NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the big announcements today: Super Bowl L (2016) has been awarded to San Francisco/Santa Clara. Houston was awarded Super Bowl LI (2017). Miami is officially left out in the cold until they get publicly-financed stadium improvements.
Anyone who has been following the process with even a passing interest should know that this was as anti-climactic a decision as it gets. Once a funding package for Dolphins Stadium died without coming to a vote in the Florida House. South Florida bidders and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have no choice but to go back to the drawing board as they have to deal with future competition from Dallas/North Texas, Indianapolis, Minnesota, and in all likelihood, Atlanta (see below).
While Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium will physically host the game, Media Day, and other activities, San Francisco will host most of the peripheral events. Chief among these is The NFL Experience, the temporary theme park, which will be held at Moscone Center. The SF bid committee has not made public all of the details of the bid, but we’ll see everything emerge in the coming months. Daniel Lurie, SF philanthropist and part of the extended Haas family, put together a coalition of business interests and civic leaders to raise $30 million of pledges to host the game, the two weeks of events leading up to the game, and contributions to community groups. The list of companies in the fray is who’s who of Bay Area heavyweights, including Google, Apple, HP, Intel, GAP (yes, that GAP), Virgin America, SAP, Brocade, and others.
NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen couldn’t help but gush over the 49ers’ doing the seemingly impossible:
The fact that somebody turned a shovel for a stadium in (California) is mindboggling.
Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Jed York and the 49ers still deserve major kudos for getting this done. They combined a steady political drive with some fortuitous on-field success to execute exceedingly well. They’re also getting the benefit of a major first-mover advantage at Levi’s Stadium. When the big game is held there, chances are the MLB’s Lodge will take a look and think, We might’ve been first movers here. (Sorry, the Sharks are still bit players compared to NFL & MLB).
York and Lurie have pitched Super Bowl L as the first truly high-tech experience, with no paper tickets and extremely connected fans in the seats. Whether SF/SC becomes a regular rotation player among Super Bowl host cities will depend largely on how well the technology works, and, of course, the weather during the game.
Not to be lost in the news is that Atlanta was approved for $200 million in G-4 funds for their crazy new stadium to replace the still-young Georgia Dome. If you’re keeping track, that’s now three stadia that have gobbled up a full-sized G-4 share: Levi’s Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings’ next home, and now the Falcons’ downtown digs. With the Packers getting $58 million for a Lambeau Field expansion, nearly all of the G-4 program money has been spoken for, with maybe one full slot or a few smaller slots remaining. The Raiders have indicated that they may not participate in the program, probably because they have to match the NFL’s cash dollar for dollar and get additional privately-sourced commitments to secure approval. The Chargers and Rams are also interested, and in the latter’s case, St. Louis is obligated to give them a ton of money if they want to keep the team in town. The Chargers and Raiders have an uproad battle to get public funds.
The Merc’s Internal Affairs folks probably got a chuckle last week when Dan Orum, the San Jose Giants’ CEO since 2012, sent the paper an email criticizing them for their coverage of the Stand for San Jose lawsuit. After Orem’s missive, IA decided to look into the case to confirm Orum’s suggestion that the team was not a plaintiff in the suit. Turns out that the Giants were an original plaintiff in the lawsuit, which has everyone scratching their heads about what Orum’s intent was.
Orum became CEO of the Giants only six weeks after the lawsuit was filed, so unless someone forgot to give him a memo or two, he should be well acquainted with the basics of the case. He was brought in to beef up sponsorships, and he may be running into resistance by local South Bay companies who are rightly confused about the little Giants’ role in the case. If Orum could somehow distance the team from the lawsuit, companies could be less reticent to commit. Of course, the paper had to go and muck that up. The SJ Giants are already in a tough spot trying to get breaks on a lease extension at Municipal Stadium, similar to the A’s current situation in Oakland.
Thankfully the lawsuit will be underway shortly, so there’s hope that much of the confusion (and frankly, obfuscation) will be cleared up through the normal legal process. As the teams and public entities continue talks into the offseason, we’ll see which parties want to be partners and which ones prefer to be adversaries.
As the MLB owner meetings were held this week in New York, the owners may have spent a lunch or two observing the proceedings in Dallas, where the NBA’s Board of Governors was deciding the fate of the Sacramento Kings and Seattle. If they paid attention, they probably noticed that there was a commissioner in David Stern who encouraged independent thought, debate, and consensus via democratic vote instead of decree (the vote was 22-8, not a bogus “unanimous” decision). By having a transparent, well laid out process for arriving at a decision with the Kings/Sonics, the matter was decided in four months. Compare that to what’s happening to the A’s, who have been in limbo for four years.
As usual, the A’s were not on the agenda at the meetings, with no reports issued or recommendations made. With the A’s continuing to get their annual revenue sharing check and keeping their expenses in check, the A’s are effectively a model franchise for MLB from an operational standpoint. Status quo it is, fans be damned.
I heaped praise on Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on March 1st for his handling of the Kings’ situation. With no support from the Maloofs, KJ put together a big money ownership group, assembled an arena deal with public funding, and rallied the vast majority of other NBA owners to his side. The feat was positively Herculean, and will serve KJ well in his future political or business endeavors, whatever way he wants to go. More importantly, KJ created a blueprint (one based on the efforts to keep the Giants in SF) for any city to keep a team in danger of moving.
Which brings us to Oakland. At present, the City and Alameda County are at loggerheads with the A’s over the future lease, even as baseball is encouraging the City to loosen up on some negotiating points. As the months progress, chances are that the A’s and baseball will be more desperate to get a deal made since there is no other ballpark solution immediately available. It’s a calculated risk that could pay off big for the revenue-short public agencies. On the flip side, MLB won’t take kindly to the A’s being gouged by the Coliseum JPA.
Long term, Oakland is doing some of the things KJ did – for the Raiders, that is. They’re trying to build business support within the community, with the two sides holding events to determine the economic potential in the East Bay. They have a program level EIR started for Coliseum City and have worked with the Raiders and the NFL on stadium concepts. For the A’s, Oakland has trotted out three stadium sites and little else. Community groups such as Save Oakland Sports and the new Oakland Fan Pledge (which has gotten 1,179 pledges worth $2.87 million so far) have tried to fill the gap for fans. If we’re judging by the level of effort, the City wants to keep the Raiders in town a lot more than they want to retain the A’s.
City officials and others will point to the A’s ownership group’s lack of cooperation as a motivating factor. Given the hell that Sacramento fans and pols had to go through, that’s not a good excuse. Oakland should be presenting its best vision for the A’s – whatever it is – and it should be doing all of the necessary background work so that if a decision comes down in favor of Oakland or Wolff/Fisher actually decide to sell the team, the ballpark effort can use some procedural and political momentum to secure a deal and get the park built. (San Jose got an EIR certified without any promises, why not Oakland?) Without a sincere and honest effort, what are the owners supposed to think? What are fans supposed to think? At least one owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, has both MLB and NBA franchises, and there’s no doubt the others at The Lodge were picking his brain to see how the boys in Dallas arrived at their decision. They can point to a commissioner who properly guided the discussion, a mayor who cared enough to fight, and a fanbase that was small but vocal. There’s still a ways to go before Sacramento has a shiny new arena, but they’ve already crawled through the proverbial river of shit. Congrats Cowtown. Don’t go spending all $258 million in one place! (er…)
While we’re watching the A’s fight for the division title this summer, we’ll also watch the Giants and A’s duke it out in court. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph Huber has released a hearing schedule for the Stand for San Jose-vs.-City of San Jose trial:
- June 6 – Petitioners Opening Brief
- July 8 – Respondents & Real Party Opposition
- July 29 – Petitioners Reply
- October 4 – Hearing on the Merits
Unless the sides decide to settle out of court, chances are that the case will drag on through the end of the year.
Less than two weeks ago, Amy Trask came on The Game’s morning show to talk about the Raiders’ ticket donation program. While there she talked up the Coliseum as the best location for a future stadium and defended Raider Nation to the hilt – as she has done frequently. So it came with some surprise that Trask resigned her CEO post over the weekend. She went out honoring the team and its fans. She could easily write a book on her 25-year tenure as a rare female executive in pro sports. Chances are that she’ll write a paean about her experiences with the Raiders instead.
Under the surface it seemed Trask’s days were numbered. With Reggie McKenzie handling the football side and Dennis Allen as his coach, Trask was marginalized to the role of figuring out the Raiders’ future stadium situation. Even then, the team got little momentum on that front as its lease was renegotiated and running towards its end. According to Tim Kawakami, at first Trask pushed for a stadium-sharing model with the 49ers, a move that would’ve been highly practical. As the 49ers pushed forward in Santa Clara, any murmurs about sharing died, replaced by a renewed push for something new in the East Bay. Mark Davis made calls to folks in the Tri-Valley about Camp Parks while Trask emphasized that the Coliseum was the best spot. Davis is working in conjunction with the NFL on the Raiders’ spot within Coliseum City, a less showy vision than what Oakland pols are promoting.
Now that Trask is gone, it’ll be up to Davis and a hired gun to sell the prospects of a new stadium at the Coliseum. Rumors abounded during the offseason that a new team president would be hired. There was even talk that Davis would give the reins to Jon Gruden, which went nowhere. It would seem that Andy Dolich would be a natural fit since he performed that kind of role for the 49ers and he’s perhaps Oakland’s biggest booster outside of the city limits. Yet Dolich took a job with recruiting firm Odgers Berndtson instead. Perhaps Davis wants to go with someone younger or someone not previously associated with the 49ers. Whatever the reasoning, it’s a puzzling non-move.
Successful stadium/arena campaigns are usually the product of a solid public-private partnership. The Giants had Larry Baer, Peter Magowan, and Willie Brown pushing for a ballpark. The 49ers had Jed York go door-to-door and two mayors, Patricia Mahan and Jamie Matthews. The Earthquakes had Lew and Keith Wolff, David Kaval, and Chuck Reed keeping San Jose’s bureaucracy from getting in the way. Miraculously, Kevin Johnson had no help from a team owner, but KJ had a history and reputation as a great NBA player to help himself within the NBA. Let’s assume for the moment that Jean Quan, Larry Reid, and Rebecca Kaplan can capably lead the public side. Mark Davis isn’t going to do the heavy public campaign himself, will he? It’ll be up to the new President/CEO/COO or whatever the proper title is to pound the pavement, rally the sponsors, gather the votes. Without that effort there’s little chance Coliseum City will get the necessary support behind it to be successful.
The flights for the Chicago-Milwaukee trip have been booked. Barring any unforeseen changes, I’ll be flying in Wednesday evening, June 5th, coming back June 9th. Here’s the game itinerary:
- Thursday, June 6, 7:10 PM - Phillies @ Brewers. Promotion: Harley Davidson Crew H-D night.$18 upper deck ticket + free admission to Harley Davidson museum.
- Friday, June 7, 1:20 PM – Pirates @ Cubs. Promotion: Cubs floppy hat (fishing cap), first 20,000 fans
- Friday, June 7, 7:10 PM – A’s @ White Sox. Promotion: Fireworks
- Saturday, June 8, 3:10 PM – A’s @ White Sox. Promotion: 1983 White Sox T-shirt, first 20,000 fans [I loved the old logo BTW]
- Sunday, June 9, 1:10 PM – A’s @ White Sox. Promotion: N/A
It’s sure to be good times. If you live in either the Chicagoland or Milwaukee areas or happen to be passing through, let me know and we can have a chat over a beer (or several).
If there’s one significant takeaway from the 49ers/Levi’s press conference today, it’s this: the “SF” on the Niners’ helmet remains a very strong symbol.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee deflected a question about the stadium being in Santa Clara instead of the city proper, talking about moving forward with the stadium as a regional solution. But it was 49ers owner Jed York and Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh who repeatedly emphasized the historical ties between the 49ers and the City, going back to the Gold Rush days. It’s a brand synergy that can only be borne of history, one that may not have been possible if the 49ers dropped the “SF” on the way south. This affirms Levi’s position as a strong sponsor of San Francisco teams – first with the Giants in 2006. That deal, which featured the prime arcade wall (replacing Gap’s Old Navy) marked the start of a growing presence in the sports world for Levi Strauss. Previously under the Haas family, Levi’s sports presence wasn’t nearly as large even though Wally Haas owned the A’s. So it’s somewhat ironic that Levi’s aggression in the market came after the Haases gave up prominent leadership roles in company, the company choosing to go with outsiders (Bergh is from Proctor & Gamble, Phil Marineau came from Pepsi) as debt and a changing market threatened the company’s very existence.
Bergh also mentioned off-hand that the scoreboards, on which enormous Levi’s logos will be placed, will be 190 feet long. That’s 10 feet longer than the frame I informally measured a couple weeks ago. Interestingly, the logo may be slightly taller than the rim of upper deck. Couple that with the gaps in the upper seating bowl, and the logo should be plainly visible for miles around, especially at night when it is lit up.
At $220 million over 20 years, the revenue the 49ers and Santa Clara Stadium Authority will realize is very solid, behind only MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. That stadium is home to two teams. It’s less than the in-limbo Farmers Field deal, but that was also for two teams and would’ve involved more uses as a retractable domed facility. All in all, Levi’s is setting the bar for the Bay Area, including new venues for the Raiders in Oakland, Warriors in SF, and the A’s deal with Cisco. Cisco’s deal, negotiated in 2006, was for $4 million per year over 30 years in Fremont. The argument that the A’s should get more with a San Jose ballpark is only strengthened by the news of the Levi’s Stadium deal.
The 49ers and Levi Strauss have scheduled a 11 AM press conference outside the jeansmaker’s San Francisco headquarters. While both sides are mum for now, multiple outlets are reporting that during the presser the two parties will announce a naming rights deal for the 49ers’ Santa Clara stadium.
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Lauren Hepler, the City of Santa Clara, which has to approve the naming rights terms, will make those terms public at 4 PM today. The City Council/Stadium Authority Board is expected to discuss the terms in a special session tomorrow.
The presser will be streamed at 49ers.com/live at 11. This post will be updated as appropriate.
Update 10:45 AM – The Mercury News’ Mike Rosenberg has tweeted that the deal is $220 million over 20 years.
No one to date has ever confused Sacramento for a big market. Thanks to a promise made by potential Kings buyer Vivek Ranadive, Sacramento may be treated like one.
The Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kasler wrote today that Ranadive pledged to take the Kings off the NBA’s revenue sharing plan if he and his group were allowed to buy the franchise. It’s no small amount, thanks to terms negotiated as part of the NBA’s 2012 collective bargaining agreement. According to a 2012 Sports Business Daily article, the revenue sharing receipt for a small market team such as the Kings or Milwaukee Bucks was worth as much as $16 million per year. The scheme is similar to MLB’s plan, except that teams in the NBA share 50% of local revenues (as opposed to baseball’s roughly 40%). A ramp-up period was imposed so that the scheme won’t fully take effect until the 2013-14 season, the same time extremely punitive repeat luxury tax penalties will also start being levied.
The Kings will face their own transition to being net payers, as Ranadive has even agreed to receive reduced revenue sharing for the remaining years at Sleep Train Pavilion. The exact amount isn’t known, but even if it were 50% of $16 million, the Kings would be hard pressed to make up the rest of that revenue solely by selling out the arena for the next two NBA seasons (my estimate of increased revenue: $8.8 million). While Sacramento is a top 20 media market, the Kings don’t get TV revenue from Comcast as a bigger market should. Either Ranadive will have to negotiate seriously lucrative increases (2X at least) or the Kings will be a very revenue-limited team.
Ranadive will have one other constraint that doesn’t hamper poor baseball teams – a salary floor. In the NBA, teams have to spend at least 85% of the salary cap. For the 2012-13 season that translated to more than $49 million. The Maloof-owned Kings spent $54 million on payroll during that period. Revenues should be a good deal higher with a new arena and increased goodwill from the community, but the fact remains that Sacramento simply isn’t a big market. It’s not going to surpass Phoenix or the Twin Cities because the population is simply not big enough, and teams like the Orlando and Cleveland will continue to get the competitive benefit of revenue sharing, plus a ton of upcoming draft picks to help their rebuilding efforts. Even Oklahoma City and Memphis, playoff teams with no need for help, will benefit at the expense of Sacramento because they’re small markets.
The Kings’ roster is made up of players without the talent or leadership ability to deserve max contracts, so for the next few years this shouldn’t be a big deal. If the team can make the right moves to have a competitive team built and timed to coincide with a new arena, all will be well. If not, even the solid ticket-buying support by Kings fans will be tested. Ticket prices are sure to be a good deal higher at the new arena, and with that comes higher expectations for success. Even if the team is successful and has multiple max-deserving players, they could be more quickly stuck in a situation like the Thunder and Grizzlies, who had to give up critical players in order to keep their payroll in line.
Sacramento backers framed their argument to keep the team in the Capitol with the idea that unlike Seattle’s competitive multi-sport market, the Kings are the only game in town. By virtue of last week’s relocation rejection, the owners are taking that to heart. Sacramento asked to be treated like a bigger market, and by golly they will be, whether they like it or not.
Finally! The Warriors released detailed images of their planned arena at San Francisco’s Piers 30/32. In doing so, developers Snøhetta and AECOM made changes to the scope of the arena. Least noticeable is a proposal to reduce the height of the arena from 135 feet to 125 feet. The kayak ramp planned for the south end has also been removed, replaced by the cruise ship terminal fought for by the Port and the ILWU.
To minimize the visual impact of a 12-story tall structure, Snøhetta is breaking up the façade on all four sides in different ways. Along the north side there’s some terraced landscaping along with a two-level peripheral building which will serve as additional retail or arena support space. Streetside (west) has its own retail buildings and an upslope to the arena’s main level. The south side is marked by a long exterior ramp that leads to a balcony on the east that looks into and out of the arena, which is something I hoped for from the beginning. The ramp divides the space in such a clean way that it looks as if God could reach down and pry the arena open along that “seam” with one hand. The bowl’s curtainwall façade will be made of clear glass, mounted in a slightly diagonal fashion.
The original plan called for 630 parking spaces on site. The revised plan and Matier and Ross note that spaces will be reduced to only 500. There are no plans to build additional parking anywhere else close to the site. While the changes being proposed are meant to satiate some critics of the plan, the most strident opponents are steadfast in their belief that the site is simply not the right place for an arena due to the visual and traffic impacts. These new changes are typical of the CEQA process, which factors in feedback from citizens and interest groups during community meetings. More are likely to come, though no one should expect any major changes from here on out.
Get ready to roll out the red carpet in Santa Clara, because Super Bowl L (2016) is coming. Florida legislators and lobbyists have been working overtime to get a state funding component for Dolphins Stadium through the legislature. The package was sneakily amended to a transportation bill in the Senate and passed, but didn’t even come up for a vote in the House. With that non-action, the entire package can’t come up for a referendum in Miami-Dade County unless the Governor calls a special session to take up the issue.
The NFL will decide between Santa Clara and Miami in three weeks, and if Miami doesn’t have its ducks in a row Santa Clara is expected to win by default. The loser is expected to “compete” with Houston for Super Bowl LI. At this point it’s unclear if the Dolphins would go back to the drawing board or resurrect the deal in the next legislative session. Still smarting from the defeat, stadium boosters blasted lawmakers in Tallahassee.
The House’s reticence can be blamed on the stench that continues to emanate from the Marlins Ballpark swindle, which remains fresh on Floridians’ minds. One has to wonder how much a similar sentiment may hurt the prospects at Coliseum City. Many are still aware of how bad a deal Mount Davis was, and some local pols are hesitant to move a plan forward without a better understanding of the public cost.
May 21 is the date of the owners’ vote on the site of Super Bowl L. The vote is expected to be little more than a formality at this point.