Turns out nobody actually wants to buy Diamondbacks’ stadium, oops

The crazy-ass plan for Maricopa County to sell the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Chase Field — which the Diamondbacks owners want either upgraded or replaced or they’re threatening to move — to some out-of-state investment bankers turned out to be even more crazy-ass than anyone expected, as the potential buyers haven’t even shown up to any meetings to discuss a sale price. Apparently a used stadium with an angry tenant who has to approve your purchase and probably won’t isn’t a hot commodity among real-estate investors, who knew?

Instead, the county may hire an outside firm to appraise the stadium and its surrounding land, to see if its $60 million asking price was reasonable. Which, sure, go for it, Maricopa County. But it’s still hard to see how shifting ownership of the stadium resolves the underlying problem, which is that D-Backs owner Ken Kendrick is demanding at least $187 million in stadium upgrades, mostly for things his lease says he has to pay for, a battle that is likely to end up in court. Maybe the county should sell the stadium to a bunch of lawyers — at least they’d guarantee themselves lots of billable hours.

Clark County officials ask questions about Raiders stadium plan, but none of the right ones

With the Nevada legislature not in session, it’s been left to the Clark County Commission to debate the proposed $750-million-plus subsidy for a Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland Raiders. They did so yesterday, and of the seven commission members, two asked lots of questions about the deal:

A barrage of questions came from Commissioners Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Chris Giunchigliani…“It gives a lot of authority to one group of folks to determine … how the dollars are spent, all of those leases that are created early on, and a lot of the protections I think we need as a county on the bonding are done by somebody else without any input from us,” [Kirkpatrick] said after the meeting. “None of that said they had to live in Nevada. There was a lot of detail left out on who can actually sit on that authority.”

Kirkpatrick added she wanted to see language guaranteeing Nevada workers the bulk of the jobs created by the stadium project.

Giunchigliani, who has opposed public financing for the stadium, said she needed more information about the proposed hotel room tax increase. The commissioner added that she would rather see Adelson put his entire $650 million stake into the project before the county began paying.

Those are questions, all right. They’re not any of the questions that they should be asking — like “Is it really worth it to Clark County to put $750 million in tax money into this?” or “When are we going to see a proposed lease so we know whether taxpayers will be on the hook for future maintenance and upgrade costs?” — but it’s more than commission chair Steve Sisolak, who was on the appointed task force that proposed this deal and was in the position of defending it, or the other four commissioners, who “were near silent on the matter” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, would-be stadium subsidy recipient Sheldon Adelson’s pet newspaper.

Or if you want alternative coverage, here’s an entire report from KSNV-TV that thinks that the appointed task force consisting largely of casino executives is a county “tourism committee.” I’m done, see you tomorrow.

Goodell asked about Raiders’ Vegas move, answers like NFL commissioners are paid to answer

Roger Goodell was asked on Sunday if the NFL would approve an Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas, and said everything you would expect from a man who needs to balance keeping various owners happy, not pissing off local elected officials, and keeping open the option of some kind of stadium bidding war:

“There’s still a lot that has to happen before we would get to that stage,” Goodell said of the owners approving Las Vegas as an NFL city. “Recognizing that they came out of committee with a bill, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to improve that recommendation.”

He said he is still evaluating whether having a team play in a casino-filled city is a good idea…

“Well, you never want to see a community lose their franchise once, much less twice,” Goodell said. “That’s why we work so hard with our communities to say, ‘This is what you have to try to get to,’ because you need to try to make sure this franchise continues to be successful.’

“The Minnesota community did that in a great way. I think we can do it in Oakland. I think there’s a solution there, but it takes the community to help identify it.”

You can parse this in a million different ways, but the way that makes the most sense is “We’re keeping our options open.” Or maybe “Keep throwing money on the table, we’ll count it up later to see who wins.” Right now it’s tough to imagine the NFL owners turning down an offer of at least $750 million if the Nevada legislature offers it, casino city or no, but there’s still a lot of haggling left to go.

Rams celebrate return to L.A. by making fans sit in sun, running out of water by halftime

The Los Angeles Rams will play at the Los Angeles Coliseum for the next three seasons while their new stadium in Inglewood is being built, and they got off to a terrible start in Sunday’s home opener. This had very little to do with the Coliseum being 84 years old, and everything to do with it being so hot that 160 fans were treated for the heat including 14 who had to go to the hospital (it doesn’t help that the Coliseum lacks even a partial roof), and to the Rams management not doing proper crowd control and not thinking to order any jumbo cases of bottled water. From Deadspin, which has been diligently compiling all the horror stories:

Here are your best stories from the game. From Ian, a success story:

I went to the game with a couple buddies yesterday and the concession stand debacle was as big of an abortion as advertised. Left with 4:20 left in the 2nd quarter to grab waters for our group and ended up having to wait in 3 different lines since the first two I was in ran out. Continued to wait through the entirety of halftime and returned to my seat with about 7 minutes left in the 3rd… BUT I GOT THAT DAMN WATER!

Matt tells us that concessions were woefully understocked in St. Louis too:

My wife volunteered regularly for charity concession booths at all of the pro sporting events in St. Louis, including the Rams games. She always said that the Rams ran out of everything before half time. The Cardinals and Blues never had all of the problems she saw at the Rams games.

The whole organization is obviously run by amateurs. The product on the field, marketing blunders, concessions, drafting players. They fail in literally every way they can. Not any different than the other teams that asshole owns.

Another tipster describes the traffic, both human and motor:

Traffic, gridlock. Entry, chaotic and overcrowded. Concessions, sorry we’re out by halftime!? Protection from elements, nada! Rams fans, smack talking and booing their own team with chants to kill the Seahawks kicker! People smoking. Security, what security? Leaving the stadium, dangerously crowded in all walkways. Gridlock at the trains/busses. Complete hell! The NFL should not allow that stadium to host ANY games until they can provide safety and security for the fans!

At least fans only had to pay between $50 and $1,000 for parking. Welcome back to the NFL, Los Angeles!

 

Rangers owners say if city builds them new stadium, old one can be stores or something

And this is just bizarre:

In an letter released Sunday on WFAA/Channel 8 Inside Texas Politics, Rangers managing partner Ray Davis said the team is working with the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. to develop retail shops along the Randol Mill Road side of Globe Life Park: “It is the Rangers’ intent to preserve the beautiful exterior facade.”

So if the Texas Rangers owners get more than half a billion dollars in public money to replace their 22-year-old stadium with a new stadium so they can have air conditioning, they’re going to keep the old, un-air-conditioned building around to use as … shops? Or part of the building? And the field could be “refitted for another purpose” somehow? Possibly as “park and festival spaces”?

This is all extremely strange, since it’s unlikely anyone cares much about the Rangers stadium’s facade, unless this is meant to win people over with a “Hey, we’re not tearing down a perfectly good 22-year-old stadium, we’re just gutting it to use it for something it wasn’t meant for instead of for baseball!” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams also said the city could collect rent on any retail space leased out at the old stadium, which maybe could help offset construction costs, yes — but then, nobody’s saying how much it would cost to gut and redevelop the existing stadium, so who knows if there would actually be a net gain?

Supposedly there’s going to be a press conference about all this tomorrow, so we can boggle some more then. Stay tuned.

Brand-new Vikings stadium forces players to be carried to locker room through sports bar

The Minnesota Vikings held their first regular-season game yesterday at their new US Bank Stadium — or, as Minneapolis City Pages readers voted to nickname it, A Bad Use of Taxpayer Money — and star running back Adrian Peterson got hurt, as football players will do with alarming regularity. Then he had to be carried to the locker room through a restaurant:

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Having players walk from the locker room to the field past fans is an increasingly popular design decision, and this was being sold as a plus just a couple of months ago:

After Vikings players get ready in the locker room, it is really just a short walk out onto the field — and that walk will be a cool part for fans and players alike.

They go down a pathway through what is called the Delta Sky Club, which fans can be at pregame, during the game and postgame. Players walk right past the fans and out onto the field for pregame warmups.

This, it now turns out, was a really really bad idea. Maybe there’s a shortcut that Vikings staffers could have taken with Peterson but they didn’t? That would be a good thing. Otherwise, the Bad Use of Taxpayer Money just got a little bit worse.

Sacramento paper says Kings arena won’t cost much in taxes, ignores tens of millions in taxes

Want to read a long, involved article about sports arena finance that tries to clarify things but is only likely to make readers much, much more confused? Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee have you covered:

Welcome to Golden 1 Center. That’ll be $18.3 million, please.

That’s how much the city of Sacramento will pay each year to help fund the Kings’ new $556 million downtown arena, set to open Oct. 4.

So far, so good. The original projection was $21.9 million a year, but the city got a 5.67% interest rate instead of an even more extortionate 6.7%, so phew.

The Kings will pay an estimated two-thirds of the debt service through lease payments and property taxes generated by the new arena.

Errrr? The Kings’ lease payments start at $6.5 million a year, and do eventually escalate to $16.7 million by by the end of the lease. but while that may average almost two-thirds of the costs (57%, according to the Bee), it’s heavily skewed toward the distant future, and as anyone who’s taken out a loan (or, you know, handled money) should know, cash flow is way more valuable now than it is 30 years from now. (If you disagree, please lend me $10,000, and I will repay 100% of your costs with a $10,000 check in the year 2046.) So in present value terms, which is how one should be calculating this, it’s a whole lot less than two-thirds.

As for “property taxes” paying for the bonds, I have no idea where that’s coming from. Here’s the actual bond payment schedule, from the city council’s official plan:

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I guess if you count the increased property taxes coming from the arena as a team “contribution,” then maybe that offsets some more of this. (The Bee counts them at $25 million, but doesn’t indicate if that’s present value or what.) But getting to use your property tax money to fund your construction costs is a rather special subsidy not available to normal humans, so shouldn’t be counted as something that is somehow reimbursing taxpayers for their costs.

Increased parking revenue only has to support about 10 percent of the debt, according to the city’s latest cash flow projections. About twice as much money will come from dollars that will get freed up when existing debt on city parking garages comes off the books several years from now.

What? Taking parking-garage debt payment money that otherwise would have returned to the general fund when the garages were paid off and instead funneling it to pay for the arena isn’t free money — it’s, well, money that otherwise would have been returned to the general fund. It’s good that it won’t have to come from parking meter fees, sure, but it’s still the public paying for it.

What this all adds up to is less “this won’t cost the public much” and more “don’t worry, the amount of public money we projected to pay off the arena will be enough to cover the bills.” Which, to be fair, is what Kasler and Bizjak say in the article, if you read carefully enough. (“City officials say Sacramento can handle the debt with room to spare, and without dipping into its general fund.”) Unfortunately, whoever wrote the Bee’s headline did not read carefully enough, and came up with this:

New Sacramento arena relies on city parking fees – plus lots of cash from Kings

And that, kiddies, is how journalism becomes spin.

Yard Goats stadium features rusting rebar, doors that don’t fit, hole in men’s room floor

Just when you thought the sad saga of the Hartford Yard Goats‘ never-completed stadium was almost over, along comes the stadium’s architect to do an audit of everything that’s still wrong with the place and make you goggle in horror once more:

The report, which The Courant obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act request, details exposed rusting rebar, cracking stairs, honeycombing and chipping concrete, improperly poured concourse slabs that invite pooling water, and clogged and improperly installed drains.

The report notes “cracks at both dugout roofs (underside fascia and above roof)” that “when exposed to freezing and thawing conditions will expand and move.”

Oof. That’s pretty bad, indeed, and suggests that there’s a lot more work to—

The report detailed multiple instances of doors being much smaller than required to match openings, which resulted in large amounts of sealant being used to close gaps, electrical outlets installed in the wrong places and in contrast to the designed drawings, improperly installed sprinklers, cable trays that interfere with signs, and gaps where walls and other structural elements meet throughout the ballpark.

Man, who were these bozos doing the construction work on this place? Anyway—

The report, dated Sept. 5, found repeated instances of “daylight” — around doors in premium suites, around ventilation and exhaust ducts, in the roof above the fireplace and sports bar, and in one case a gap in a men’s room floor that allows one to see into the floor below.

Guh.

The city’s insurance company still needs to hire a new contractor (or the old contractor, but maybe that wouldn’t be the best idea, under the circumstances) to repair all these defects and finish other unfinished elements, all in time for the stadium to open next April. Oh, and it’s about to be winter in Hartford, which tends to come with ice storms. There’s still a chance that the opening day 2017 construction deadline is blown, and the Eastern League ends up pulling the Yard Goats franchise and sending it to another city — or that Hartford just says screw it, slaps a new coat of paint on everything, and opens up a brand new taxpayer-funded ballpark where you get to look down on your fellow fans while peeing. Either way, it promises to be a lot more entertaining than watching Double-A baseball.

Unelected board okays $750m-plus Raiders stadium subsidy, democracy maybe to commence soon

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee yesterday approved spending $750 million in hotel tax dollars on a new stadium for the Oakland Raiders and whoa whoa hold on, take a deep breath and read back to the beginning of the sentence, okay? The SNTIC, despite that official-sounding “committee” in its name, is an unelected body appointed by Nevada’s governor to “explore potential funding mechanisms to support new tourism-related initiatives,” and looks like this:

  • Steve Hill Chairman Executive Director Governor’s Office of Economic Development
  • Len Jessup Vice Chairman President University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Carolyn Goodman Mayor City of Las Vegas
  • Steve Sisolak Chairman Clark County Commission
  • Kristin McMillan President and Chief Executive Officer Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce
  • Tom Jenkin Global President Caesars Entertainment
  • Bill Noonan Senior Vice President of Industry and Governmental Affairs Boyd Gaming
  • Bill Hornbuckle President MGM Resorts International
  • Kim Sinatra Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Wynn Resorts
  • George Markantonis President and Chief Operating Officer of The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas Sands Corporation
  • Mike Sloan Senior Vice President of Government Relations Station Casinos

So, one governor’s aide, the mayor of Las Vegas, the county chair, the president of the university that would get to play at the stadium, the head of the chamber of commerce and six casino executives — including a top exec of Sands, the company that would be getting the $750 million — thought it was a good idea to send this plan to the state legislature. There, exactly none of them will have a vote on actually approving the deal, though Sisolak might get a vote if the state punts it to the county, as is its right if it can’t get a two-thirds majority to pass a stadium bill.

So what, exactly, did these seven business leaders, two appointees, and two elected officials approve? Take it away, Las Vegas Review-Journal:

At a meeting stoked with enthusiasm and a few minor squabbles, the 11-member committee unanimously supported the stadium developers’ preferred funding option, which requires a $750 million public investment, eliminates a 39 percent public contribution cap and allows the private partners to reap all stadium profits during the lifetime of the Raiders’ lease.

And that’s how it was reported by the paper that is owned by Sands owner Sheldon Adelson, mind you. So stark was the SNTIC’s capitulation to every one of Adelson’s demands that even the paper that isn’t allowed to say anything bad about the deal had to shake its collective head in wonderment.

What we know about the stadium proposal: Clark County would raise hotel taxes by 0.88%, and direct the proceeds to paying down $750 million in public stadium construction debt. (The hotel tax hike is projected to be plenty big enough to cover those costs.) Adelson would kick in $650 million, and Raiders owner Mark Davis would provide $500 million, though they would presumably get to offset their costs with naming rights fees and PSL sales and NFL G-4 funds, whereas the county would get none of this money. Another $10.4 million a year (roughly $150 million in present value) in sales tax, live entertainment tax, and business tax from an area around the stadium would get siphoned off by the stadium authority, though the SNTIC’s stadium Powerpoint makes it appear that maybe that money would go toward the same $750 million payment, and not be on top of it.

I’m hedging on that last one because the state-controlled stadium authority could well be stuck with additional costs — future capital improvements to the stadium, say — depending on the ground lease that it agrees to with Adelson. A ground lease, mind you, that hasn’t actually been negotiated yet. This, people, is crazytown, but sadly the kind of crazytown that is all too common in public stadium negotiations, particularly when it’s between the developers that are asking for the money and an unelected body that the developers themselves sit on.

The next step now is for Gov. Brian Sandoval to decide whether to call a special session of the legislature, since Davis would want to apply to the NFL for relocation at its January owners’ meeting, and there’s no regular legislative session scheduled before then. (Why should the Nevada legislature be playing to the NFL’s clock? The two-minute warning, duh.) If he does, which seems likely, then the battles will start over getting the necessary two-thirds vote of the legislature to approve the tax hike — or, if that can’t be arranged, a simple majority vote to punt the deal to the seven-member county commission, which would then have to vote at least 5-2 for the stadium to be approved.

It’s still no sure thing, in other words, but the SNTIC has set the framework for debate, which is no longer “What, if anything, should we offer the Raiders to move to Vegas?” and now instead “Should we give Sheldon Adelson at least $750 million in tax money, and possibly a whole lot more, so the Raiders will move here? Y/N.” Residents of Nevada, if you have an opinion about this, let your state lawmakers know.

UPDATE: Almost forgot to mention the best thing ever in the history of things: