Trying to figure out Raiders lease talks by quoting mayor not involved in them might not be best idea

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said on Sunday night that she wanted to get Raiders owner Mark Davis to sign a new lease before opening talks on a new stadium:

Schaaf explained that the goal is to secure a renewal of the lease for the Raiders at Coliseum before then focusing on negotiations with team owner Mark Davis that would lead to a “permanent, beautiful home for those Raiders” in Oakland.

At a time when taxpayer money is scarce for stadium projects, Schaaf mentioned only that “limited public tools” would be available to assist the process.

Then Schaaf said on Monday that it’s Davis who wants the new lease, and she’s eager to start talking stadium:

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf said the team’s focus seems to be geared on securing a lease extension at Coliseum.

“It’s my impression that’s the Raiders’ priority,” Schaaf said Monday at a Super Bowl 50 host committee news conference. “That’s the communications that I’ve heard from them. Of course, I’m anxious to get them back to the table to talk about a new stadium.”

Also, Schaaf isn’t directly involved in lease talks, since those are up to the Coliseum Authority. Also also, she hasn’t actually talked to Davis lately.

Tea-leaf reading is hard!

Bills fans like to get drunk and act stupid, blogger says stadium is to blame

As an early entrant to the “Craziest Reasons of 2016 to Build a New Stadium” competition, I present to you SBNation Buffalo Bills blogger Matt Warren, who thinks the Bills need a new stadium because their fans keep getting drunk and acting stupid in the parking lot of the old one:

As Bills fans’ behavior continues to make national headlines for all the wrong reasons, that timeline might be moved up; the rationale holds that that behavior can be ameliorated by moving the stadium to a more controlled, downtown location.

“The rationale holds” — not sure whose rationale this is, but Mr. Straw Man has some ‘splaining to do about how a parking lot downtown is any more “controlled” than one out in the sticks. Warren adds that “a new downtown stadium could change not only the zip code, but the clientele in attendance at the game,” which seems to imply that he thinks people who attend football games at schmancy downtown venues don’t get drunk, or at least when they do are less likely to do backflips onto folding tables. Which, I haven’t spent that much time in Buffalo, maybe he’s right — but spending a billion dollars on a new stadium just in hopes that your doofus fans don’t end up on Deadspin seems like an awfully inefficient use of resources.

Billionaire wants $780m in tax money to build an NFL stadium for him in Las Vegas

We now have a hint of how Sheldon Adelson’s “public-private partnership” for a Las Vegas football stadium would work, and it’d probably be better called a “public-public-private partnership,” or maybe a “public-private partnership”:

A domed stadium proposed for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas football team has a price tag of $1.2 billion, and developers would seek $780 million in public financing, according to a document provided by Las Vegas Sands Corp., which is leading a consortium behind the project.

Private investors would contribute $420 million toward the planned 65,000-seat stadium, with various tourist-driven tax sources — commercial conveyance on taxicabs, rental car taxes or hotel room taxes — providing the bulk of the funding.

This is more or less the same funding scheme put forward by UNLV two years ago, except that the stadium price tag has gone up by $300 million since then, so the subsidy demand has as well. Putting in $780 million in tax money would be a stupendous amount of public cash — depending on how you count and whether the stadium would also get property tax breaks (probably), it could end up the most expensive public subsidy ever for a football stadium.

Of course, Adelson’s casino company also provided numbers to justify how this would be a great thing for Clark County to spend money on, telling the newspaper that Adelson owns that “the domed stadium would provide $600 million to $800 million in total annual economic benefit,” which is even more than consultant Convention, Sports and Leisure estimated two years ago.

But, you know, inflation or something. Or maybe just the fact that an extra $300 million in cost means you need an extra $300 million in economic benefit to make it still look good, But surely a consultant owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees would never reverse-engineer figures like that, right?


Chargers agree to move to L.A., vow to stay put in San Diego, all in a day’s work as an NFL owner

So here’s some things that happened on Friday:

  • The San Diego Union-Tribune reported (in an article no longer online in its original form) that the Los Angeles Rams (we should start calling them that now, right?) and San Diego Chargers had reached agreement in principle on a deal to share the Rams’ new Inglewood stadium.
  • Chargers owner Dean Spanos issued an open letter to fans stating that “our team will stay in San Diego for the 2016 season” and while he has an “option” to move to L.A., “my focus is on San Diego.”

So what does this mean, exactly? Clearly, Spanos has gotten Rams owner Stan Kroenke to agree to give him the rest of the year to lobby San Diego to cough up more money to keep its team — or as Spanos put it in his letter, to “determine the best next steps and how to deploy the additional resources provided by the NFL.” (That’d be the extra $100 million that the NFL is offering Oakland and San Diego as a sweetener for stadium deals, something that was completely unthinkable when it was St. Louis asking for it.) So expect some nasty, nasty stadium talks to continue the rest of this year, with Spanos clearing his throat and glancing in the general direction of Inglewood anytime someone suggests he kick in more of his own money.

The big question San Diego needs to be asking now is at what point Spanos will feel comfortable walking away from the table and going to Los Angeles — which unfortunately is unknowable, since the details of the deal between Kroenke and Spanos aren’t public. In fact, we have no way of knowing if the details have even been spelled out yet — it’s entirely possible that Spanos went to Kroenke and said, “Stan, let’s put out an announcement, I gotta light a fire under San Diego, we can work out the rest later,” and Kroenke grunted enigmatically.

In short, the NFL owners are playing this perfectly, levying move threats while openly proclaiming their love for current NFL cities (the better not to provoke pitchforks and torches) and holding their cards close to their vest. Which shouldn’t be surprising, as this is the business they’re in, but it’s always inspiring to watch evil geniuses at work up close. If the Chargers do end up getting the cash and staying put, it’ll be interesting to see if Raiders owner Mark Davis can pull off the same trick with Oakland.

Adelson wants $1b Vegas stadium funded by “public-private partnership,” possibly to lure Raiders

The University of Nevada Las Vegas’s plans to put off further discussion of a new campus football stadium until 2017 just got upended yesterday, as Sands casino company owner Sheldon Adelson announced that he wants in on building a $1 billion domed stadium for UNLV — and plans to meet with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis about possibly having his team play there.

Adelson should be familiar to anyone with an interest in national politics or the journalism industry: He’s a major Republican campaign donor who has had all the GOP presidential candidates competing for his sweet, sweet cash endorsement, and recently bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal while hiding behind a Connecticut newspaper publisher who curried favor with his new boss by writing positive articles about him under a pseudonymous byline.

It may or may not be connected, but the Review-Journal’s story on Adelson’s proposed stadium contains some of the more hilariously credulous statements about a stadium proposal that have been seen in these parts in some time. Let’s begin:

Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands’ senior vice president of government relations and community development, said Thursday that Las Vegas needs a modern stadium with at least 65,000 seats to drive additional tourism to Southern Nevada…

“We are moving forward with the stadium concept with or without an NFL team,” Abboud said Thursday. “We see a lot more opportunities — conference championships, bowl games, NFL exhibition football, boxing, soccer, neutral site games, and music festivals. There is an entire segment out there.”…

Abboud said the project would be a “public-private partnership” in which Las Vegas Sands or the Adelson family would contribute an unspecified large portion of the financing.

Okay, sure, it’s Abboud saying all those things, not the R-J. But still, letting stand unchallenged the notions that 1) Las Vegas — Las Vegas — is missing out of tourists because it doesn’t have a 65,000-seat football stadium, 2) stuff like boxing and music festivals is going to represent a significant amount of income for a domed football stadium, and 3) an amount of money can be simultaneously “large” and “unspecified” is pretty dismal journalism. You couldn’t even pick up the phone and call one person not involved in the deal to see whether any of these claims are remotely realistic? Maybe we should check that byline again…

MLS to St. Louis: Sorry about your football team, you know we play “football” too, right?

It’s official: With the St. Louis Rams gone, every other sport in town (or not in town) is hoping to grab a piece of that $477 million in public stadium money that the NFL team turned down. Just ten days after the Rams announced their move to Los Angeles, MLS commissioner Don Garber sent a letter to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon expressing his sympathies and offering to provide St. Louis fans with some kind of football, anyway:

Garber in his letter, dated Friday, said he was surprised and disappointed at the Rams’ departure and “in the wake of recent developments” wanted to reaffirm his commitment to considering St. Louis as an expansion city.

“I look forward to working with you, your staff and local leaders to explore ownership candidates and to investigate viable stadium solutions to bring MLS to St. Louis,” Garber said in the letter.

Yeah, like Missourians are going to accept a whole different sport as a substitute for anoth —

A Florissant lawmaker who earlier offered up a sales tax financing plan for a new riverfront football stadium is now saying a similar idea could be used to bankroll a new soccer stadium in St. Louis.

State Rep. Keith English has introduced legislation that would put a tax of not more than one-tenth of one percent on the ballot in St. Louis and St. Louis County. A green light from voters could generate between $10 million and $15 million annually, he said.

Note that this plan would have to go before city and county voters, so would almost certainly fail, especially given that nobody thought a similar Rams vote could pass, and some people actually already liked the Rams. Still, mute those cheers that by losing the Rams St. Louis has at least saved $477 million — there are plenty of other sports leagues lining up for a shot at it. How long before the Cardinals‘ stadium is 20 years old?

Coyotes plan to announce something about arena plans someday

Here’s Arizona Coyotes owner Anthony LeBlanc talking about his plans for a new arena in Phoenix or Tempe or someplace that’s not Glendale, because screw those guys for not wanting to pay him to play there:

“I’m very positive that we will have something out in the community if not in the next month or two but certainly by the end of the regular season,” LeBlanc said. “We need to partner with a community or institution that wants to be a partner and that’s the first and foremost thing. The good news is that all of the discussions we have had have been pretty open as have other organizations — be it the city of Phoenix or Tempe or Arizona State. Everybody has been pretty open that we have had discussions with and they have all been positive.”

So the owner of the Coyotes is hopeful that by April he’ll have “something out in the community” about partnering with somebody on building something somewhere, and everyone he’s talked to is “positive.” Got it. My only concern is that the English language may need a new verb tense for this — may I suggest the hyper-subjunctive?


Study finds higher home values cause NFL stadiums to spontaneously appear

Correlation does not imply causation” is one of the basic principles of statistics and logic — basically, just because your alarm goes off every morning right before sunrise doesn’t mean the sun is controlled by your alarm clock. Yet journalists and (especially) people putting together reports to promote their businesses forget it time after time after time.

In unrelated news, this:

Trulia_AllNFLStadiums_Graphic2Feel free to explicate on your own conclusions from this, but I’m going with “don’t go to a real estate listings site for your sports stadium economic analysis.” Or for proper use of commas.

Tampa’s plan to raze low-income housing for Rays stadium could doom historic school, too

DRaysBay has more on that plan to build a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium on the site of a low-income housing project, and it’s even worse than it sounded at first:

  • The housing complex is co-owned by a nonprofit originally founded by members of the local African-American community to provide services that were unavailable in the segregated South, which for some reason bears the name the Lily White Security Benefit Association. It barely exists nowadays — no website and a meager $361,327 budget — but is still eager to sell the land under the housing complex for $9 million.
  • Relocating the 372 families currently occupying the apartments would cost from $9.3 million to $27.9 million, assuming somewhere can be found to move them to.
  • The site is too small for a stadium, so to make sufficient room the city of Tampa would also probably have to raze the historic Booker T. Washington Elementary School. Plus maybe a public library and a Catholic church.
  • The highway access isn’t great, so somebody would need to pay for new ramps from I-275 and I-4.

And as a punchline, DRaysBay recounts this troubling list, then notes:

For all these reasons, Mayor Buckhorn has indicated his support for this site.

Florida, man.

Developer offers to sell imaginary arena to Senators for imaginary price

The private developer competing with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk to build an arena (among other things) on the LeBreton Flats site now says it would consider allowing Melnyk to own the rink if that would make things easier:

“Our attitude is, if we win the bid – and we firmly believe that the Senators should be downtown – we’re there and we’re willing and able to have a variety of discussions,” said Daniel Peritz, Canderel senior vice-president and spokesman for the Devcore Canderel and DLS Group, in an interview.

When asked specifically if that included the Senators owning the arena, Peritz answered: “Under the right conditions, everything is on the table.”

Presumably Devcore wouldn’t build an arena and then just give it to Melnyk for free, so how much would he have to pay for it? And how much would he be willing to pay for it? There’s a hint of a hint elsewhere in the Ottawa Sun report:

Earlier in the day, Melnyk told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch that playing in a new downtown arena could mean as much as $10 million more for the Sens’ payroll, so the team “can spend more.”

Does that mean $10 million more after paying for arena construction? Because if not, a new arena sounds like a pretty crappy investment, since it would cost around $500 million to build and only produce $10 million a year in new revenue. And even if that’s net gain, it’s a pretty marginal return on that kind of investment — Melnyk would be better off just putting his money in a mutual fund. (Okay, not the past few months, but in the long term.)

The takeaway here, as always, is follow the money. Once somebody has any idea how to pay for all this, it’s worth taking seriously. Until then, it’s not even pretty pictures.