UW-Milwaukee on possible Bucks arena site: Um, guys? We’re still playing here?

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Don Walker’s obsession with to build a new Bucks arena is everlasting, but sometimes there’s actual news to be covered on the “Where do we put the arena that we don’t know how to pay for?” front. For example, this:

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, interim Chancellor Mark Mone said building a new arena on the site would not just displace the men’s basketball program, but disrupt other university programming planned over the 10-year agreement to rebrand the arena.

“The larger reason for us to be there is really about more visibility and our brand image and making a statement,” Mone said. “We are not just the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, but the University of Wisconsin for Milwaukee.

“We want this to be a win-win for the community. We just don’t want to be displaced.”

So, basically, UW-Milwaukee doesn’t want to be evicted from its old arena to make way for a new Bucks arena. Whether this will hold any sway with lawmakers deciding on where (and whether — please, let someone remember that it’s also whether) to build a new Bucks arena, who knows, but it’s another small fly in a very, very large pool of ointment.

Hartford council votes tonight on $56m for stadium in exchange for promised new buildings, because that always works

Tonight is the Hartford city council vote on the New Britain Rock Cats stadium-and-other-crap project, which means it’s time for frequently asked questions!

How much will this cost Hartford taxpayers? Starting with a hard one, eh? The Rock Cats owners would actually be building the stadium, but then paying for it by leasing it to the city for $4.67 million a year, and then paying the city back $500,000 a year in rent. Plus the developers would be getting a bunch of land for free. Public estimates have generally put this at $60 million in cash value, though without attempting to factor in how much the free land is worth.

Is that definitely it? Yes, now that the council has decided to establish a hard cap on construction costs of $56 million. Except that the council has also ruled that the stadium will have to be built with union labor, which the developer insists will add 10% to the cost. That seems high (stadiums are pretty materials-intensive, not labor-intensive), but regardless, it does raise the question of who will pay for cost overruns if they can’t be made up for by using cheaper bathroom tile, which honest to god is what the developer suggested for saving money.

What does Hartford get in return?More than 1,000 jobs“! Not from the stadium, of course, but from the other crap, including a brewery, office towers, residential buildings, and a space elevator. (Possibly not the space elevator.) If all of that gets built, which will totally definitely happen, because development around a sports venue never just stalls completely without warning. Everyone involved seems to agree that the council needs to put in some kind of contractual requirement that all the bits that the city wants will actually get built — ideally, by cutting off public stadium payments if they’re not — but the council doesn’t seem to be planning on actually doing that, not tonight, anyway.

If the council approves this, is it definitely happening? The city planning and zoning commission, which already voted against this project once for going against the city’s downtown development plans, has to sign off on a special zoning permit for it, and could still say no. What they’ll do is anyone’s guess — anyone’s, I guess, aside from the developers’ lobbyists who are no doubt following the commission members around Hartford even as I type this.

Pacers to get $59m a year extra from TV deal, will still keep $16m a year in city subsidies, thanks much

So now that every team in the NBA is set to get a $58 million a year windfall from the league’s new TV contract, does that mean that teams will stop complaining that they’re losing money and need operating subsidies from their home cities? Yeah, right:

City officials said the TV contract doesn’t change their view of a deal made six months ago to lock the team into Indy for 10 years. The Capital Improvement Board agreed to use $160 million in tax money to cover operating costs and upgrades at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The team keeps revenue from all fieldhouse events — basketball and non-basketball alike.

“We still believe that our current agreement … is in the best interest of the city and CIB,” Ann Lathrop, president of the CIB, wrote in an email response to questions.

The city agreed to pay the Pacers $16 million a year to play in their rent-free arena in order to keep the team from threatening to leave, so I guess it’s true that the TV deal doesn’t make that logic any dumber: The Pacers would still get their cut of the TV boodle in another city, so the move threat is just as viable (or nonviable) now as it was when the new lease was agreed to.

Still, given that the Pacers management insisted that the subsidies were needed because the team was losing money, and that even after kicking in for heftier player salaries that will result from the TV windfall and the money that the Pacers and other former ABA teams have to tithe to the old Spirits of St. Louis owners, the Pacers should clear about $25 million a year in added revenues, this does make Indianapolis’s subsidy agreement look even worse. Which is pretty bad, given that it already looked like the worst deal ever.

Hartford council to vote Tuesday on $60m Rock Cats stadium subsidy

The Hartford city council will vote on Tuesday night on the downtown development project that includes a $60 million subsidy for a New Britain Rock Cats minor-league baseball stadium, and council president Shawn Wooden has indicated that he has the votes for it to pass. (CAUTION: Don’t click on that link if you are sensitive to terrible, terrible web design.) The council is looking to add a few more amendments to the proposal, one of which is a bit worrisome:

The revisions would also include requiring a commitment from Minor League Baseball that it would not allow the Rock Cats to be transferred during the term of the lease, and that it assures the presence of a Double A minor league team at the Hartford stadium for at least 25 years.

So does this mean that the Rock Cats’ 25-year lease doesn’t require the team itself to commit to staying put? Or just that this would guard against MiLB up and pulling the franchise out from under Hartford? A “commitment” seems awfully not legally binding, but maybe the Hartford Courant’s choice of language is just as terrible as its web design.

If this project does get approved on Tuesday, it will still have to go back before the city planning and zoning commission for a special permit, the same planning and zoning commission that voted against the project last month. Either way, though, it’s an indication that local officials can still be swayed by everything-but-the-kitchen-sink projects: The stadium part of the plan, and the subsidies for it, are pretty much identical to the previous proposal that was withdrawn in the face of massive opposition, but tack on a bunch of private development next door, and suddenly everyone is focused on the special toy surprise and not on the stadium. We’ve seen it plenty before — and not just in stadiums — and if this goes ahead, we’re only likely to see more of it.

Downtown Sacramento traffic, already getting F grade, to get super-double-F once Kings arena built

The new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings is going to cause lots of traffic in downtown Sacramento. I know, duh, but there are, like, official traffic guys saying this, so:

Jim Calkins, the head of freeway operations for the Sacramento area, wrote in one email, “I think the minimum number of vehicles would be 8,000 — not 3,600.”

In another email, a transportation planner for Caltrans wrote, “There was no feasible way to mitigate those impacts.”…

The Kings, as the developers of the new arena, are required to pay impact fees to mitigate the costs of traffic projects.

The initial calculations based on the building size required a $310,000 fee.

The Kings have agreed to pay more: $500,000.

But Caltrans officials said that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what any other transportation project would cost.

There are plans for a new streetcar line and expanded highway ramps, but neither will be in place by the time the new arena opens in 2016, so there are likely to be some decent-sized traffic nightmares, at least at the start. Think this is maybe something that Cobb County should be paying attention to as well?

Markham arena proposal still missing, declared dead

This happened a while back, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging: Remember how Markham’s crazy arena plan was pretty much killed last December, when the city council sent it back to the drawing board for further study? Well, apparently it’s now completely dead, thanks to the developer in charge of it disappearing off the face of the earth:

In the summer, staff confirmed that they were no longer in touch with Graeme Roustan, the arena’s chief promoter, and the project was officially over.

“We never heard from him again,” said Joe Li, who is running for a second term as regional councillor and was one of the first to oppose the financial plan for the arena.

Yeah, that would have gone well if they’d gone ahead with it. Now somebody just tell Howard Bloom that there’s not going to be a place for a second Toronto team to play.

Red Bulls still don’t wanna pay arena taxes, nobody told them they’d have to, mommmmm!

The New York Red Bulls (aka Red Bull New York, aka whatever they’ll be called if Red Bull sells them) are still appealing that tax court ruling from almost three years ago that they have to pay property taxes on their arena in Harrison, N.J. The tax court ruled then (and an appellate court agreed) that because the team collects all the revenue from the arena, it’s effectively a private stadium regardless of who holds title to the building; in its appeal to the state supreme court, Red Bull’s response has been that that’s not fair, because nobody told them the rules ahead of time:

Red Bull Arena “was undoubtedly the victim of a ‘bait and switch’ in this case, as its promised tax exemption vanished into thin air,” says the Red Bulls’ successful petition for certification.

Red Bull should be aware that tax rules can change, right? Oh, sorry, wrong crappy food product ad campaign.

 

Dodger Stadium “in play” as temporary NFL venue, says [out of characters, remainder of message omitted]

We have officially reached Full Hype Machine with the NFL-to-Los Angeles rumor: Following on human full hype machine Mike Florio reporting on Sunday that the NFL “plans” to put a team or two in L.A. in the next year or two, the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer has now tweeted this:

That’s, okay, “interesting” is a decent word for it. Some items of interest that presumably didn’t fit in a tweet: Who told Farmer this? Why would a team (or two) want to play at Dodger Stadium instead of the L.A. Coliseum or Rose Bowl? Does “temporary” mean while a new stadium plan gets approved, or while it gets built after it’s approved? All ripe topics for further investigation by the sports media.

Or, you know, the sports media could just do this. And this. And this.

Hartford residents speak on stadium plan, press marvels that they don’t all say exact same thing

There was a public hearing in Hartford yesterday about the proposed New Britain Rock Cats stadium project (which is supposed to include lots of other development, but it’s the stadium that would require city subsidies), and not everyone agreed!Some people believe history will blame Hartford if it fails to seize this opportunity:

“Are we going to be the city that cannot get a $350 million development deal together?” [Mayor Pedro] Segarra asked. “If we don’t allow this to happen, picture us a year form now wondering what went wrong. If we can’t work this out, why would any other private investor come to Hartford?”

And some believe history will blame Hartford if it does seize this opportunity:

Resident Bernadine Silvers asked it this way: what will they think of us if we do build it? “I want you to know that when you’re gone, and your grandkids know who you are, and everybody else that looks in the history books knows who you are,” she said, “and there’s a big, empty building sitting there in the middle of our downtown, they will know that you had something to do with it. That’s the reason I’m scared about that stadium… I just want you to know that I’m concerned, and I want all of you to please look at the things in this city that were supposed to be good ideas, but they were follies.”

And some people, according to WNPR, “stood out” for not believing anything at all:

“I see [councilmember] Ken Kennedy nodding his head, as always,” [Carmen Rodriguez] said. “I know you love Hartford, and I know each and every one of you love Hartford, and these people here, whatever moved them, love Hartford. That’s all I’m going to say. I ask that you look for the best plan.”

Also, a certain book is reported to have attended the proceedings. WNPR did not report on whether it testified, and it never tells me anything:

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