Just because this was proposed back in 1964 doesn’t mean that there was every really a serious chance of San Diego building a floating convertible baseball/football stadium for the Chargers and Padres, especially since the Padres were still a Pacific Coast League team at the time. Still, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the holy crapness of it all:
When the owner of the fledgling minor-league soccer team Indy Eleven said that a new $87 million publicly financed stadium could pay for itself by generating $5.1 million a year in ticket taxes, I did a little math: Even if the team jumped to the major-league level, I estimated, it couldn’t expect to generate much more than $8 million a year in ticket sales, which would mean $800,000 a year in ticket taxes, which would mean a whopping big budget hole for the state.
That analysis took me about two minutes. Now somebody with actual time to do some real research has conducted a more in-depth projection, and it is so much worse than even I had predicted:
An analysis by the Legislative Services Agency, an independent body advising the legislature, estimated this week the soccer team would generate just $2 million to $4 million a year in ticket sales, significantly less than the team’s estimate of $51 million.
Yeah, by a little bit. The LSA study was based on average ticket sales in the NASL (the minor league that Indy Eleven currently plays in), not the MLS, which is one reason its numbers are lower than mine. But no matter how you slice it, it’s inconceivable that Indy Eleven would get within shouting distance of generating enough ticket tax to pay off the public stadiums bonds — as the Indianapolis Business Journal notes, to reach the $5.1 million target for ticket-tax revenue, the soccer stadium “would have to sell in tickets alone more than four times the total revenue of the [minor-league baseball] Indianapolis Indians. The well-established Indians reported a record $11.8 million in revenue in 2013, including tickets and concessions.” (They also play 72 home games a year compared to 17 in MLS, one reason the Indians sold more total tickets than all but one MLS team in 2013.) The IBJ also reports that team owner Ersal Odzemir “did not immediately respond to an IBJ request for a breakdown of how much of his estimated revenue would come from non-soccer events.”
As a reminder, if the ticket-tax money falls short, as now seems inevitable, the next revenue stream would be income and sales taxes paid by the team, most of which would be cannibalized from existing tax revenues. (Unless people in Indianapolis are suddenly going to find a giant pile of new spending money as soon as they have soccer tickets to buy.) So this is really the difference between a project that could pay for itself and an $87 million gift to a team that hasn’t even played its first game, and has gotten no indication that it will even be allowed to apply for a jump to the majors. The soccer plan has only just begun to move through the legislature — a bill to increase by $2 million a yeae the amount of sales and income taxes that can be diverted to Marion County’s Professional Sports Development Area has passed the state house, but that money doesn’t have to be used for a soccer stadium — so hopefully legislators will actually look at the numbers before rubber-stamping the plan. Even if this is Indiana.
World’s most expensive high school football stadium shut down after two years because of giant cracks
A $60 million Texas high school stadium that got national attention for its grandeur and price tag will be shut down indefinitely 18 months after its opening, school district officials said Thursday.
Eagle Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Allen will be closed until at least June for an examination of “extensive cracking” in the concrete of the stadium’s concourse, the district said in a statement Thursday. The closure will likely affect home games at the stadium this fall, the district said.
Ben Pogue of Pogue Construction, which built the stadium, told reporters that the cracks range from a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch wide.
The ESPN report goes on to add that the school district defended the $60 million cost “by calling the stadium an investment for generations of future Eagles fans and a much-needed upgrade from the district’s previous 35-year-old field.” It also cost so much because the district decided to go with pricier items like concrete instead of aluminum benches, because they wanted a stadium that would last decades.
Irony is a harsh mistress.
Have you ever bought anything really expensive that you want but don’t absolutely need, like a car or a house or a Death Star? In my experience, it goes something like this: 1) Figure out what you can afford; 2) Look at what’s available for sale; 3) Cry; 4) Adjust your expectations accordingly; 5) Either buy something within your budget, or decide to just scrap the entire idea and treat yourself to a nice meal instead.
This is, apparently, not how things go in the stadium world, as evidenced by the University of Nevada–Las Vegas’s 11-member stadium panel:
It’s one thing to draft a plan to build a stadium of 45,000 or more seats that could be covered, or at least equipped with a sophisticated shading system like the shading technology at Baylor’s new football stadium.
That’s the easy part for the 11 members, who include executives representing five of the six biggest gaming companies in Las Vegas.
It’s quite another thing to find public dollars to pay for the venue that Snyder said is pivotal to UNLV’s aspirations…
The panel’s consultant, Bill Rhoda, principal of CSL International, didn’t have great news for the board on the funding front, noting there are limited public-money options at the local level.
And he doubted that any high rollers would be willing to cough up millions of dollars in suite and seat rights.
“It’s not going to be easy to raise $200 million in seat rights,” Rhoda told the Review-Journal after the 2½-hour meeting.
Yes indeed, it’s hard to find $900 million for a 60,000-seat domed college football stadium for a program that has had a winning record once in the last 13 years and resorted to giving away tickets for free to get people to go to its last home opener. You might even wonder if the benefits will be worth the cost — but that’s not how big thinkers operate:
“We have to look creatively,” said stadium board Chairman Don Snyder, UNLV’s acting president. … No longer was Snyder rolling out his pet phrase of “game changer” to describe the stadium wish. Now, he’s using another phrase — “thinking outside the box” — to describe what it will take to pay for the proposed venue.
Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle sat down with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis on Sunday, and just got around last night to posting the bit of the interview where he talked about Davis’s plans for where the team will make its home in the future. Short version: He wants it to be in Oakland, but says talks have “gone silent” and he’s running out of patience.
This one-year extension is really based on the hope that Colony Capital can get something done. I don’t want to call it a last-ditch effort, but it does seem to be the last chance that Oakland is going to get. We can’t continue to play in that stadium, with the baseball field and all of that stuff. The A’s have two years left, and are talking about a 10-year extension. We can’t keep getting pushed off, off, off, off …
And if nothing happens with this “last chance,” then what?
I wouldn’t talk about Plan Bs or anything like that. I don’t want to talk about using someplace else for leverage. If I get something done in Oakland, I am staying.
To his credit, Davis does genuinely seem to want to work something out in Oakland (if only because his other options aren’t great), and specifically mentions Concord and Dublin as two sites that probably wouldn’t work for the team. Less to his credit, he still seems to be trying to threaten Oakland into approving a new stadium for him ASAP, even without saying what he’s threatening to do if his demands aren’t met. “It’s all tough stuff,” Davis tells Tafur; I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes, except for the part where those shoes come with a $300 million check from the public if he’s successful, and just with owning an $825 million NFL franchise that he inherited from his dad if he’s not.
The nearly two-year-old petition drive to hold a public vote on the proposed Sacramento Kings arena plan finally met its maker yesterday, as Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled that the Sacramento city clerk was correct in having given it the boot:
In his written decision, Frawley said the proposed ordinance should be excluded from the ballot because it conflicts with the city’s charter and is “beyond the power of the voters to adopt.”
He added that the court found the “volume and magnitude of the proponents’ procedural errors undermined the integrity of the electoral process.”
Hey, remember a few weeks ago when Florida house speaker Will Weatherford announced that he wanted an actual process for deciding which sports teams should get state tax breaks, instead of the time-honored local custom of just throwing all the money in the air and letting team owners stuff whatever they could grab into their shirts? There’s an actual bill now, sponsored by state senator Jack Latvala, and here’s its list of criteria, as related by the Tampa Tribune:
- The kinds of “signature events” — like Super Bowls, all-star games or racing championships — the facility might attract.
- The likely boost in ticket sales and attendance the project would create.
- The likelihood of attracting out-of-state visitors.
- How long a team has been in the state.
- Whether the new or renovated stadium could host a variety of sporting or other events.
- The ranking process also would give extra points to teams that can put up half or more of the total project funds.
So that, um, a start, I guess? It’s arguably a pretty stupid start — why teams that have been in the state longer should get dibs is unclear, and there’s tons of evidence that “signature events” are essentially worthless to local economies — especially compared to a more reasonable metric like, say, whether a project would actually create a net return on investment for the state. And it sounds like this is just an attempt to create a ranking system for who’d be allowed to dip their beaks first into the state’s annual funding pool (which would be set at $13 million a year), which negates the possibility of deciding that there aren’t $13 million a year of projects worth funding at all.
Still, at least mediocre criteria are criteria, and they can always be tweaked later if (okay, when) they prove to be inadequate and ridiculously easy for team owners to game. Not that I really expect the Florida state legislature to pass bills twice in my lifetime putting more strings on sports subsidies, but in an infinite universe, anything is possible.
Toronto city councillor (and Exhibition Place chair, because that’s how they roll in Canada) Mark Grimes tells the Toronto Sun that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which owns Toronto F.C. in addition the Maple Leafs, is “getting close” to a deal to expand BMO Field for both the soccer team and possibly the CFL Argonauts, who currently play at whatever SkyDome is called these days. As for what the deal would look like, though, it’s about as vague as when MLSE first discussed it last month, with Grimes saying only, “It is going to cost us money to expand, there is a portion that we would pay that we’d be guaranteed back.” (Eeeagh, comma splice!)
The big question remains whether “guaranteed back” means actual revenue to the city to repay the money it would be fronting, or some bogus “repayment” involving taxes the teams would have to be paying anyway. It would be really, really nice if someone with better access to the principals involved — I don’t know, maybe some Toronto newspaper named after Earth’s nearest star? — would ask these kinds of questions at some point, but I guess there’s only so much one can ask, even of Canada.
So the Washington, D.C. council held that hearing yesterday on councilmember Vincent Orange’s plan for a 100,000-seat football stadium/hotel/golf course/indoor water park/etc. on the site of RFK Stadium, and I’m sure there was lots of important testimony about how much it would cost and how it would be paid for and stuff like that. Right? Right?
“I believe RFK Stadium and the surrounding land could be turned into a successful financial venture for the District of Columbia,” testified D.L. “Corky” Calhoun, a D.C. business executive and former member of the 1976 championship NBA Portland Trail Blazers.
“Like the Washington Wizards and the Washington Nationals the Washington Redskins should be playing their games here in a facility in Washington D.C.,” said Calhoun.
Okay, people in the sports world think sports teams are peachy keen. What else?
“It creates new opportunities and lots and lots of new jobs. One hotel, the size of 500 rooms, could create as many as 1,000 new jobs in the area,” [Hotel developer William] Conway testified.
And hotel developers think hotels are peachy keen. Come on, somebody testified about the details of the plan, right?
“If there is to be a new football stadium built in the metropolitan region, and the Redskins organization certainly wants that, there is no better site than where RFK now sits,” declared D.C. Council member Jack Evans, a member of the Economic Development Committee.
We got it, people like football. Anybody?
District resident Ronald Dixon said, “The Redskins need to be in D.C. Because they are a destination. You can build on that.”
From the looks of things, the only person who actually talked about economics or finances was neighborhood advisory commission chair Brian Flahaven, whose website I’ve linked to before, and who raised the issue of a football stadium being a terrible anchor for hotels, given that “there’s only ten football games a year … plus maybe you get a concert here or there. The rest of the year, the stadium is not open… it just sits there.” Which is an interesting point, but, you know, FOOOOOOOOTBALLLLLLLLLL!!!! Because that’s what public oversight is all about.
Cubs holding off on Wrigley reno until 2015, except for giant ad sign, because ad signs wait for no man
This should surprise absolutely no one given that Opening Day is just a little over a month away, but Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has announced that renovations to Wrigley Field will be put off until after the season, what with the lawsuits and the move threats and everything. Until at least after the season, I should say:
“It’s our goal to get the [Wrigley Field] project started at the end of the season,” Ricketts said. “I’m not sure if there’s a hard date that goes with that.”
But even if the long-awaited Brand Plaza will have to wait, Ricketts is hoping to have his “see-through” advertising sign (note: not actually see-through) installed in April, because hey, that’s another year of revenue, right? I’m not sure how that’s going to work given that the neighboring rooftop owners are suing under the charge that this will block their views of the field (which are protected under the rooftop owners’ contract to share revenue with the Cubs, though there’s an exception for any “expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities”), but I’m sure it’s nothing a few more injunction requests can’t solve.