Friday roundup: How Kansas City evicted a team for rent non-payment and ended up costing itself $1m, and other stories

This week’s recommended reading: Girl to City, Amy Rigby’s just-published memoir of the two decades that took her from newly arrived art student in 1970s New York to divorced single mom and creator of the acclaimed debut album Diary of a Mod Housewife. (Disclosure, I guess: I edited an early version of one chapter for the Village Voice last year.) I picked up my copy last week at the launch of Rigby’s fall book tour, and whether you love her music or her long-running blog (guilty as charged on both counts) or enjoy tales of CBGB-era proto-gentrifying New York or coming-of-age-stories about women balancing self-doubt and determination or just a perfectly turned punchline, I highly recommend it: Like her best songs, it made me laugh and cry and think, often at the same time, and that’s all I can ask for in great art.

But first, read this news roundup post, because man, is there a lot of news to be rounded up:

Texas Rangers’ old stadium to be permanently converted for XFL, what could possibly go wrong here

Texas Rangers execs have announced that when their new taxpayer-subsidized stadium opens next year, their 25-year-old prior taxpayer-subsized stadium will be converted to a football stadium for an XFL franchise, reports Forbes — notwithstanding that this was already announced by the XFL last December. But Rangers vice president of business operations Rob Matwick did at least provide a couple more details of how the retrofitting would go:

“It will require us at the end of the season to convert from a baseball configuration to a football configuration.”


“Probably,” Matwick said, “because we’re going to have a state-of-the-art baseball facility across the street.”

Matwick also said the Rangers were engaged in “some preliminary talks” about hosting soccer and high school football, according to Forbes columnist Barry Bloom.

Okay, let’s start with a look at how this will likely work in terms of geometry. Here’s a composite of Google Maps images of the Rangers’ old stadium and a football field, sized to the same scale:

That’s clearly going to require the demolition of some seats in center field, which shouldn’t be a huge undertaking. It would leave fans with pretty terrible sightlines, though — the 50-yard-line seats would be massively far from the field — plus it would be very difficult to fit in a soccer pitch, which needs to be 30% wider than an NFL field. So it would be far more likely to see a configuration like this:

That will require a fair bit more demolition, especially to fit soccer, but at least you’d have decent seats along one side, and I suppose could even add temporary bleachers on the other side to provide more seats.

Anyway, all this would clearly be totally worth it for the Rangers and Arlington to land a permanent … XFL franchise, did you say? The league that only lasted ten games in its first iteration (prompting creator Vince McMahon to call it a “colossal failure”), and which is slated to try again next year, on the heels of another attempt at an NFL alternative that only made it through eight games? This is truly a great idea, and certainly not a pathetic attempt to pretend that having two stadiums designed for baseball sitting right next to each other isn’t a tragic commentary on American subsidy-driven capitalism.

UPDATE: A commenter (thanks, Joe!) shared the schematic below that the Rangers previously issued, which is similar to my bottom image only with the field running third base to right field instead of first base to left field. It also has one corner of the end zone located in the front-row seats, and the overlap would be even worse for a soccer pitch, so clearly this is a work in progress.

Friday roundup: Don’t subsidize bad people, XFL to pay St. Louis more in rent than Rams did, unscientific poll on Suns arena is unscientific

Happy first Friday roundup of 2019! I could add a whole lot of thoughts on lists I’ve read and haven’t made of the best of this and that of last year, but to save time let me just stick with saying that this song is pretty damn excellent and get right to the news of the short week:

  • Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote a column about how Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder is a bad person and a terrible owner and should never get a dime of public stadium money because that’d be “a bailout, welfare,” none of which I can disagree with, but at the same time I’m a bit uncomfortable with the implication that if Snyder were less unpleasant, he’d then be deserving of public largesse.
  • The XFL may still be considered a bit of a joke league, but at least it can pay the city of St. Louis a decent stadium rent, unlike the Rams ever did. (Of course, the “joke league” bit is exactly why they are being required to pay real rent whereas the Rams could refuse to; there’s not much advantage to being an 80-pound gorilla.)
  • This essay responding to Amazon’s tax breaks is pretty excellent, though it’s still a half-notch below this classic Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon.
  • An opposing team manager has demanded that Tottenham Hotspur be required to play the rest of their season at Wembley rather than moving into their much-delayed stadium, because … teams that got to play them while they were adjusting to their new grounds would have an advantage somehow? From what I’ve been able to tell, most of home-field advantage in soccer comes from home fans booing (or whistling) at refs to intimidate them into making calls that go their team’s way, but the last time I tried reading the literature on this it quickly went deep into the weeds, so I won’t belabor the point.
  • “Fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena” were “surprisingly” in favor of spending public money to renovate the Phoenix Suns arena, according to Fox10 Phoenix, compared to “the online response” which was more “mixed.” This is both an impressively off-label use of “surprisingly” and an impressively lazy attempt at polling Phoenix residents — two impressively lazy attempts, even — so fine job, Fox10 Phoenix!

Friday roundup: Cincy stadiums still gobbling tax money, XFL to use old Rangers stadium, Crew stadium to require $50m+ in public cash

So very very much more stadium and arena news from this week: