News for the End of 2012

It’s a light end of the year newswise, yet there are enough nuggets to put together a post.

  • The A’s are getting closer to a deal to play at Hohokam Stadium, the current spring training home of the Cubs. An announcement is expected to be made in January. The City of Mesa will contribute at least $15 million of the $20 million cost of renovations to Hohokam and Fitch Park, with the team and city splitting costs between $15 million and $20 million and then the A’s paying for the rest. When the announcement is made, I’ll devote a post or two to the transition and the differences between Hohokam and Phoenix Muni. [Arizona Republic/Gary Nelson]
  • For the two spring training games being held at the Alamodome at the end of March, no lower deck ticket can be had for less than $35 (plus Ticketmaster fees, natch). If you have time, watch the Alamo Bowl today and imagine what a baseball game would look like in there. Consider that the first row down the third base line will be several feet above the field.
  • Minnesota’s Hennepin County and the District of Columbia have pulled in greater tax revenues than expected for their respective ballparks. In Washington, city leaders have chosen in the past to pay for other budget items, whereas in Minneapolis they’re paying off ballpark debt early. In the case of Target Field, ballpark debt could be retired 5-10 years early – at long as the Twin Cities doesn’t turn into Detroit or Cleveland in the next decade. Or Cincinnati for that matter. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune/Rochelle Olson | Washington Times/Tom Howell Jr.]
  • Maury Brown estimates that revenue sharing for the 2012 MLB season is around $400 million. If you look at the history of teams and their relative financial status, there are usually 10-12 who constantly are on the receiving (welfare) end, including the A’s towards the higher end. By that measure, I figure that the A’s check for this year has to be in the $40-45 million range. [Biz of Baseball/Maury Brown]
  • AT&T Park is the #1 ballpark in America when it comes to Facebook and foursquare check-ins. What about the Oakland Coliseum? I mean, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum? I mean, Oakland Stadium? I mean, O.co Coliseum? Um, nevermind. [ESPN/Bill Speros]
  • Take time to read @muppet151‘s request for the Victory Court EIR. It is on point. [TwitLonger]
  • Honestly, I should add an “Oakland dog park” item to the counter. This is laughably ridiculous. [SF Chronicle/Matthai Kuruvila]
  • If you’re not working or too hungover, head to the Exploratorium on Wednesday. That’s the last day in the wonderful Palace of Fine Arts location before it moves to Pier 15. It’s also FREE.
  • The NHL and NHLPA had conference calls to set up further talks. They’re running neck-and-neck with Congress for the most dysfuctional situation right now. Here’s the current NHL proposal. [ESPN/Katie Strang]
  • The Maloofs continue to say that they won’t sell the Kings, but privately say that they would sell for $500 million. [USA Today/Sam Amick]

Unless something major happens, this is the last post of the year. See you on the other side. Until then, have a safe and happy New Year.

News for 12/19/12

Update 9:00 PM - In case you missed it, the good folks at Next Media Animation in Taiwan posted their pithy take on the A’s signing of Japanese shortstop Hiroyushi Nakajima.

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News is fairly light, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.

  • After the summer defeat of multiple bills attempting to revive redevelopment in some form, another has surfaced in SB 33, introduced by State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis). The bill’s purpose is to create infrastructure financing districts, in which projects could get infrastructure such as roads, sewers, and other public facilities built. There is no stipulation about building stadia. Regardless, creation of an IFD could be an important piece of the puzzle as some stadium projects require utilities to be moved or other unsexy work.
  • The Dodgers are working with Fox Sports and Time Warner Cable on their ultra-rich upcoming TV deal. The sticking point is the structure of the deal, which has to work within the confines of a federal bankruptcy court’s decision to cap the Dodgers’ TV money subject to revenue sharing at $84 million. To work within the rules, the network may “force” the team to acquire an equity stake in the network, which would allow the network to pay an annual TV rights fee and a dividend. This is a similar arrangement to what the Giants and Yankees currently have with their respective networks. The Angels and Lakers are each paid a flat fee annually, which to date has been the normal arrangement. [LA Times/Bill Shaikin]
  • The cost of the mostly unseen renovations at Dodger Stadium will be $100 million. Key to this is expansion of clubhouse facilities, including the visiting clubhouse. [LA Times/Steve Dilbeck]
  • Robert Bobb may return to Oakland again, this time as the compliance director for the city’s negotiated settlement to prevent Oakland Police Department from falling into receivership. Bobb could potentially oversee all of OPD and report to federal judge Thelton Henderson on reforms being implemented throughout the department. Bobb was last hired by Oakland to fix its budget a few years ago. The position is meant to be temporary. [SF Chronicle/Matier & Ross]
  • Somehow the Oakland City Council had an hours-long discussion over whether to approve a dog park at Astro Park, and adjourned without making a decision. Think about it. A dog park created gridlock and indecision. [Oakland Tribune/Matthew Artz]
  • I don’t normally keep track of international soccer economics, but this was an eye-opener: Premier League champions Manchester City incurred a $158 million loss during the 2011-12 season. $113 million of that was transfer fees to buy players from other teams. That loss was actually half of the $307 million loss in 2012-13. Remarkably, the club is debt free because the owner, oil tycoon Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has funded all expenditures out of pocket since he bought the team in 2008.
  • CSN Bay Area/California’s Brodie Brazil took a tour of the under construction 49ers stadium, which is a third complete.
  • Unable to come to an agreement in the Nats-O’s struggle over MASN, MLB may be bringing in buyers for the TV rights for the two clubs. Remember that the whole point of creating MASN was to placate Peter Angelos when the Expos were moved to DC. Commissioner Selig probably has this mess in mind while considering what to do with the Giants and A’s. [Washington Post/James Wagner]
  • The Rays ballpark plan at Carillon is for all intents and purposes, dead. At least that’s what the developer who pitched the plan says. There currently is no plan in the works for a new ballpark within St. Petersburg, where the Rays are locked into a lease at Tropicana Field. [Tampa Bay Times/Stephen Nohlgren]
  • The Sacramento Kings have to commit to Virginia Beach by January if a deal to move there is to commence. [KTXL-40/Dennis Shanahan]
  • The Edmonton Oilers have a deadline of six weeks from now to reach a deal on a new arena to replace aging Rexall Centre. Like Virginia Beach, Edmonton’s arena plan has a nine-figure funding gap.
  • The Yankees are going with Ticketmaster instead of MLB subsidiary StubHub as its official ticket scalper reseller. They’re also instituting a price floor on resold tickets, because otherwise their normal first-sale gouging looks worse by comparison. [Deadspin/Tom Ley]

More as it comes.

News for 11/16/12

Belated congratulations to Bob Melvin for winning AL Manager of the Year. While there’s no photographic evidence, Melvin’s daughter Alexi admitted to pieing him in the face recently. All in celebration, of course.

On to the news.

  • MLB’s big three national television contracts were approved this week during the owners meetings. Apparently this was so anticlimactic that only a single tweet about the news emerged, from Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal.
  • As mentioned yesterday, all ballots in Alameda County have been counted. With that, Measure B1 appears to have been narrowly defeated by less than 700 votes. Perhaps the backers had a false sense of security due to the lack of fervent opposition. Back to the drawing board, I guess. [Contra Costa Times/Denis Cuff]
  • Fox is fixin’ to buy a big piece of the YES Network. Not the Yankees’ piece, the part owned by Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity. The network is worth as much as $3 billion, making the two-thirds share up for grabs worth $2 billion. [NY Times/Amy Chosick, Michael Cieply]
  • The Rangers have announced that they will play two exhibition games at San Antonio’s Alamodome in March. The stadium’s only full-time tenants are the UTSA college football team and the AFL’s San Antonio Talons. The seating bowl layout (see pic below) makes it even less baseball friendly than previous square/rectilinear multipurpose domes like the Metrodome and Kingdome because it has a very limited number of corner seats. It’s also a bit narrower along the football sidelines than the Metrodome and not all of the rows retract, making the right field line dimension perhaps as small as 280 feet. Backers of MLB to San Antonio see this as a good sign, but the arrangement is a double-edged sword. Just as the Cowboys staged training camp in the same Alamodome multiple times, the Ryans are doing this to reaffirm the brand throughout the state, not to promote MLB there. After all, the Rangers have some solid TV money to protect.  [San Antonio Express News/Josh Baugh]

Picture of one side of the Alamodome stands retracted for a 2010 Dallas Cowboys training camp session. Picture from Sports Nickel.

  • The ballpark for the Midland Rockhounds (A’s AA affiliate) will soon be losing its naming rights partner. Citibank has been the sponsor since shortly after the ballpark opened. The ballpark sits as part of the nicely designed and manicured Scharbauer Sports Complex, alongside one of the best high school football stadia I’ve ever seen. It is the land of Friday Night Lights. [Midland Reporter-Telegram/Sara Higgins | Bud Swanson]
  • The Mariners are going a different route to make a splash in the offseason, unveiling plans for what will be the largest video/scoreboard in MLB. The display will measure 57 feet tall by 201.5 feet wide, with a resolution of 3840 x 1080. Effectively that’s two Full HD screens side-by-side. At 11,425 square feet, the display will be 70% larger than the display the Astros had installed at Minute Maid Park last year, and 30% larger than baseball’s largest current screen at Kauffman Stadium. Panasonic will be the manufacturer, displacing Daktronics. The display is part of a $15 million capital improvements fund, negotiated by Seattle/King County and the Mariners prior to the opening of Safeco Field. [MLB.com/Greg Johns]
  • Chris Hansen released renderings for his dream arena in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle. The concept, penned by 360 Architecture, is reminiscent of 360’s Sprint Center project in Kansas City. It’s meant to house both basketball and hockey teams. Unlike Sprint Center, Hansen’s arena won’t be built without commitments from existing NBA and/or NHL franchises. Ironically, the opposite is what occurred in Kansas City, as the city chose to plow forward with an arena with no permanent tenants. That would put KC and Seattle in direct competition for any future franchise moves. [KING 5/Chris Daniels, Travis Pittman | 360 Architecture]
  • Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) played to populist roots earlier this week by decrying the Vikings’ plans to sell PSLs at their $1 billion stadium. Most everyone throughout the Twin Cities expressed confusion at this sentiment, since it was pretty clear from the beginning that PSLs were a crucial piece of the financing plan. [MN Gov. Dayton | Minneapolis Star-Tribune Editorial Board]
  • Perhaps just in time for the start of the Mike D’Antoni era in LA, DirecTV and Time Warner Sportsnet agreed to a carriage deal of the fledgling regional sports network. (Laker fans weren’t missing much the last two weeks anyway.) Terms were undisclosed, but TWCSN has been seeking $3.95 per subscriber per month, making the channel among the most expensive RSNs in the nation. [LA Times/Joe Flint]
  • The City of Reno swore in a new City Council this week, and with that came swift action. They nixed the narrowly approved debt restructuring/refinancing plan completed just before the election. That puts both the team and the city in a bind. The team is threatening to leave without a tax subsidy. The Council clearly wants nothing to do with the debt liability. This snag gives the two sides about a year to figure out some sort of solution before Aces ownership figures out a move. If the Aces leave, Reno would be stuck with the debt anyway. Already the city has stopped making debt payments, pushing its credit rating into junk status. [Reno Gazette Journal/Brian Duggan]
  • Did you know about the Sacramento Sports Commission? If you didn’t , then it matters little as it’s about to be dissolved. The commission’s job was to attract different types of sporting events and maintain relationships with governing bodies like the NCAA, so that Sacramento venues could remain in constant rotation for major events such as NCAA championships. The task will probably end up with Sacramento’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. One of the reasons for the dissolution is that SSC failed to repay a $400,000 loan taken out for the 2011 World Masters Athletics Championships. [Sacramento Bee/Ryan Lillis]

That’s it for now. Feature on media coming over the weekend.

NHL Islanders to move to Brooklyn, keep name as-is

Guess I’ll have to eat a little crow on this one.

It’s 14,500 because they have to cut into the seating bowl the same way US Airways/America West Arena was set up for hockey. This is not going to be acceptable long-term for either the NHL or the Islanders, no matter how much asbestos they find in Nassau.

Turns out that Barclays Center is perfectly acceptable to both the NHL and Islanders owner Charles Wang, because he signed a 25-year, “ironclad” lease at the new arena starting with the 2015-16 season. Wang, who grew up in Queens and went to high school at Brooklyn Tech, has owned the Isles since 2000. He lives on Long Island’s Gold Coast.

The Islanders play at the four decades-old Nassau Coliseum and have lobbied for a replacement facility for years. Seven months ago, complaints by arena employees led to an investigation that found asbestos in the building. While airborne asbestos was not detected in public areas, a cleanup effort started during the summer to ensure that employees wouldn’t face additional exposure. OSHA then wrote up 16 citations against the arena related to the asbestos problem.

Wang and Nets co-owner/developer Bruce Ratner had talked for years about a joint arena effort, but that appeared to go dormant when Wang campaigned for his own arena and master planned development on the site of the Coliseum. That project, which would’ve required $400 million in public funding, lost by a landslide in 2011. During today’s press conference at Barclays Center, Wang indicated that talks with Ratner started up again about seven months ago, making it appear as if the asbestos problem triggered Wang’s decision to give up entirely on Nassau County.

Already stuck in a smallish arena (16,250 for hockey) with incredibly poor attendance (11-13,000 per game on average over the past few years), Wang probably figured that even with Barclays’ hockey-compromised seating bowl and low seat yield (14,500 for NHL games), it’s better than staying at Nassau. Ratner and Wang will continue to figure out ways to add another 500-1,000 seats, according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. If no new seats can be added, Barclays would have the lowest capacity of any active NHL venue, with 500 fewer seats than Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.

To illustrate how bad this is for hockey, take a look at the following seating chart from Barclays Center/Ticketmaster. Like Oracle Arena, the Barclays Center seating bowl is tight around the basketball court. Only one end has retractable seats, with the other three sides having poured concrete down to near the floor. Seats at the compromised end would be high above the ice, making the only good seats the first row. If you’re wondering, hockey at Oracle Arena would look much like this. If the Warriors build a basketball-first arena as has been the recent trend in the NBA, they’d have the same problem staging hockey games.

This chart indicates that most available seats will be used.

Now looking at this seating chart, released by the arena and the Islanders for an exhibition game that was supposed to be played there a few weeks ago. Looking at this in hindsight, it’s possible that the event was scheduled to help Wang and Islanders figure out how best to stage hockey games there. With the lockout wiping out all exhibition games and at least the first month of the 2012-13 NHL season, the parties may have felt that it was simply best to move forward with the announcement, knowing that the lockout could continue for some time to come.

Seats made available for sale for Islanders exhibition game.

Bettman played down the drop in capacity, noting Winnipeg’s success and the 1,000+ seat disparity between the new and old venues as being “little material difference”. Wang affirmed that the team would continue to be called the “New York Islanders” instead of the “Brooklyn Islanders”. Though, as Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky pointed out, the current Isles’ logo doesn’t have either Queens or Brooklyn on it.

Barclays Center sits on top of Atlantic Yards, a long-used yard for the Long Island Rail Road. It’s across the street from Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn’s rail/subway hub. By virtue of that transit accessibility, Barclays will be more accessible to fans by transit than Nassau Coliseum, though many who are used to driving (most of the fanbase) may be inconvenienced.

News for 9/14/12

First, an advisory for tonight’s game, which will run concurrently with a concert at Oracle by the Mexican band Maná.

On Friday, September 14 the Oracle Arena is holding a dual event beginning at 8:00 p.m. The A’s recommend traveling to the Coliseum by BART. If arriving by vehicle, the A’s recommend early arrival. Parking availability is expected to be limited by game time. Parking gates open at 4:00 p.m. and stadium gates open at 5:35 p.m. Parking is $17 until 7:00 p.m. After 7:00 p.m. parking will cost $35.

The A’s are expecting at least 30,000 for tonight’s game. A really good walkup crowd could make it a sell out. Get there early, folks. Or take BART and avoid the hassle.

And now the news.

  • The Santa Cruz City Council approved the now-$5.4 million arena plan on Pacific Avenue near Laurel, thanks in part to the City applying concessions revenue to the $4.1 million loan. If the Surf-Dubs leave before their seven-year term is up, the team will be considered in default of the loan. The City may try to bring UCSC sports teams downtown to play at the arena, though historically the athletics program at Division III UCSC hasn’t been much for bringing out crowds. [Santa Cruz Sentinel/J.M. Brown]  Note: The “South Hall” tent at the San Jose Convention Center is seven years old this year and is scheduled to be demolished soon as it has reached end-of-life.

View of Santa Cruz tent arena site from east bank of San Lorenzo River.

  • Seattle approved its arena deal with SF hedge fund guy Chris Hansen, holding out until Hansen guaranteed loan repayment, set aside $40 million for infrastructure improvements around the SODO arena site, and threw in $7 million for improvements for what would likely be the tentative venue, KeyArena. No word so far on a NHL team to partner up with the NBA franchise. KFBK-Sacramento’s Rob McAllister thinks that Hansen could buy the Kings from Maloof family for $450 million. The NBA’s relocation fee to Seattle is expected to be around $30 million, far less than the fee for the Kings moving to Anaheim, where the SoCal market already has the Lakers and Clippers. [Seattle Times/Jerry Brewer]
  • Speaking of hockey, we’re less than 36 hours from the beginning of the NHL lockout. Players currently get up to 57% of revenue, owners want 47%, players have countered with 54%. Arena operators have already been told that if the lockout happens, the first month (October) of game dates can be cleared for other events. As for businesses around HP Pavilion, it’s not looking good. [AP/Ronald Blum; SJ Mercury News/Mark Purdy]
  • The 49ers announced that they’ve sold $670 million worth of club suites and suites at the new stadium. 72% of the suites, which cost $100-500k per year to lease in long contracts, have been accounted for. That’s important because I estimate nearly half of the pledges are coming from suites. Three years ago I wrote about the tough task the Niners would be faced with in financing the stadium. They’ve been up to the task, mostly because the premium accommodations are priced as much as double the price of other new stadia. For the Niners that’s a distinct first mover advantage in a largely untapped market, Silicon Valley. It would make sense for the Niners to wait to extend an offer to the Raiders to share the stadium until after certain sales targets are met. The Raiders could benefit from a less onerous lease package, but they’d also be somewhat shut out of Silicon Valley. [Merc/Mike Rosenberg]
  • Save Oakland Sports’ fundraiser was held at Ricky’s in San Leandro last night. Proceeds will go towards either the construction of venue(s) or “community projects associated with” the venue(s). [KRON/Brian Shields]
  • Long term lease talks between the Buffalo Bills and New York State/Erie County broke down, resulting in a one-year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills aren’t seeking a brand new stadium, but they are trying to get around $200 million in improvements to the 39-year-old stadium. The team will miss a deadline to apply for the NFL’s G-4 stadium loan program, forcing the negotiations to move in the short-term direction. NY Senator Chuck Schumer wants the NFL to modify G-4 so that teams won’t have to complete loan payments when a team is sold, a touchy situation considering Bills owner how Ralph Wilson’s advanced age and sensitive health may affect the team’s ownership situation in the near future. [AP/Michael Virtanen; Buffalo News/Tim Graham; The Score/Devang Desai]
  • The independent St. Paul Saints, last at the trough, received $25 million in economic development grants for a new ballpark to replace Midway Stadium. Renderings of the ballpark are unlike other ballparks.

Rendering of St. Paul Saints ballpark in Lowertown neighborhood

Enjoy the game tonight and the fireworks. That other miracle team of destiny is in town. I’d dress in my Boba Fett costume, but that would look pretty stupid as I asked Bob Melvin questions during today’s blogger event.

News for 9/6/12

Update 9/6 10:30 AM – Several items added.

Not much to celebrate on the field, so we’ll focus off it.

  • Sure, the A’s didn’t draw well Tuesday and Wednesday. Neither did the White Sox, Nationals and Braves. Yet league attendance is up 3% over last year. Nothing changes overnight.
  • Brodie Brazil wrote a goofy column about stuff that should carry over from the Coliseum to a new A’s ballpark. [CSN Bay Area]
  • Good to see that the regular media (Merc, NBC BA, KQED) picked up on the recent S4SJ lawsuit activity. I’ve heard that S4SJ is expected to respond with its own motion by Monday 9/10, followed by another response by the City by 9/14. If nothing else it keeps the case in the news.
  • Forbes NFL team valuations are in right on schedule. #1 is the Cowboys at a whopping $2.1 billion, followed by the Patriots and Redskins. The 49ers are at #9 with a $1.175 billion, thanks to the team’s playoff run and the start of stadium construction. The Raiders came in at #30 with a $785 million valuation, and were one of two teams to have an operating loss (according to Forbes). [Mike Ozanian]
  • We’re 9 days from the NHL’s lockout deadline, and there’s no telling what will happen. The two sides are reportedly very far apart. [SB Nation DC/Ted Starkey]
  • With ESPN’s TV deal signed, MLB may be looking for $800 million per year for the combined Fox/Turner schedules. Combined with ESPN, MLB would net $1.5 billion per year, translating to $50 million per team. Add other central revenue to that (merchandise, MLB AM, XM, etc.) teams should be able to get $70 million in national revenue every season starting in 2014. That figure doesn’t include revenue sharing (local redistribution). [Sports Business Journal/John Ourand]
  • So I guessed wrong on 95.7 The Game getting the Warriors and switching to NBC Sports Radio. The station stayed with Houston-based Yahoo! Sports Radio, and the W’s chose to renew their deal with KNBR, apparently feeling that the signal coverage was worth the third-tier status on the stations. That’s a bad loss for Entercom, though it highlights the biggest problems with The Game: its ratings aren’t going to get much better until they get more local pro teams and boost the station’s signal. The new deal runs through the 2015-16 season.
  • The good news for The Game is that the station posted a 1.1 rating for August, the highest since the programming change. The A’s haven’t moved the needle at The Game for well over a year. Perhaps this is a sign that now they are effecting change. [BA Sports Guy/Scott Willis]
  • Legislators are attempting to bring back redevelopment through various bills that have just reached Governor Brown’s desk. I won’t give the bills much attention unless Brown signs them into law. In the meantime, some groups are applying for federal tax credits to help foot the bills for projects. [ABC 7/Kendall Taggart; 10 News San Diego]
  • Save Oakland Sports has a profile in the Tribune. When talking about the upcoming fundraiser, co-founder Jim Zelinski said, “A cynic might laugh … but it all adds up.” Sure it does. Fundraisers like this, which has no set fundraising goal, can help – about 1 PSL’s worth at a time. [Oakland Tribune/Matthew Artz]
  • The federal government will lose up $4 billion in tax revenue ($146 million annually) thanks to tax-exempt bonds used on many stadia, including the Coliseum and the new 49ers stadium. [Bloomberg Businessweek/Aaron Kuriloff and Darrell Preston]

More as it comes.

News for 8/30/12

Here we go. We’ll start off with some minor league news.

  • The Santa Cruz Warriors continue to work with the City of Santa Cruz to get their tent arena built in time for the 2012-13 D-League season. Final approval hasn’t happened yet, let alone construction, so the D-League put the Surf W’s on a loooo-o-ng road trip before the team’s first home game around Christmas. That gives the two parties 16 weeks to get the arena approved, built, and buttoned up. No pressure. The Surf W’s could play on the road for additional games until the project is completed, or if there are extensive delays or the project isn’t approved, hopefully there’s a backup plan like the San Jose Civic Auditorium. Cost for the downtown arena have already ballooned from $4 million to $5 million because of foundation issues that were identified. Ticket prices have also been released. [Santa Cruz Warriors; Santa Cruz Sentinel/J.M. Brown]
  • Head north on Highway 1 and you’ll eventually get near the Cow Palace, where the San Francisco Bulls are quietly fixing up the old arena. $2 million of updates will be paid for by the team, including a center-hung scoreboard, a first for the Cow Palace. A schedule and ticket prices have also been announced. I may have to ring up the Bulls to see if I can get a sneak peek of the place. [CSN Bay Area; SF Bulls]
  • The first debate for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council happened last night, and the two main candidates, incumbent Rebecca Kaplan and challenger (and current D5 council member) Ignacio De La Fuente both had something to say about the tenant teams at the Coliseum complex. [East Bay Citizen; Steven Tavares]

On the issue of the city’s professional sports teams, Kaplan and De La Fuente differed, if not, in terms of their priorities for retaining the A’s, Raiders and Warriors in Oakland, with Kaplan being more optimistic. “Let’s face it, the A’s don’t know the way to San Jose,” said Kaplan, and adding the current Coliseum City proposal will bring shop owners, bars and restaurants to the city along with fans and conventioneers to the area, said Kaplan, while also creating jobs.

De La Fuente was less sanguine saying he would only turn his attention to the Coliseum once crime in Oakland is sufficiently quelled. “I learned from my mistakes,” he said, referring to the botched return of the Raiders in 1995. “They are in the business of making money,” De La Fuente said, believing the public sector should no longer have a role in financing stadiums.

  • The Earthquakes announced their general seat pricing and posted a seating chart. The big ticket item is the establishment of a 1,400-person supporters section in the closed end, which will have its own bar and storage area for the flags and banners they use during the game. Interestingly, the language is “1,400-person”, not “1,400-seat”, which leads me to believe that this area will be a standing terrace. That’s fine since fans in the supporters sections are expected to stand anyway. I’m pretty sure it’s the only to fit 1,400 people in what looks like a pretty small space between the elevated seating bowl and the pitch. [SJ Earthquakes]
  • The Quakes also announced today that they are negotiating with three Fortune 100 companies on naming rights for their 18,000-seat stadium. Fortune 100, eh? Club president said that some of these companies are tech or Silicon Valley firms. Recently, new MLS stadia have netted $2-3 million per year in naming rights, which if matched by the Quakes would go a long way towards paying off the stadium. FWIW, I don’t think any local tech company should be ruled out, including Cisco (and no, that doesn’t mean Cisco is dumping the A’s). [SJ Mercury News/Elliott Almond]
  • On Saturday I’ll be in Berkeley for the first Cal football game at the rebuilt Memorial Stadium. I’ll be sure to get there early to take lots of pictures and document the experience. Somehow I was able to buy one of the last available $19.32 tickets for the opening game. I’ll be in the south end zone, a mere 5 rows up. As an aside, I was somewhat surprised at how many tickets remained for the game. I expected a sell out long ago. One thing to consider is that we’re the only market with three FBS (D-I) college football teams. Combine that with small or not-terribly-fervent fanbases and two NFL teams, and it’s easy to see why our general reaction to college ball is a collective “Meh.” [UC Berkeley]
  • On a related note, the Pac-12 Network launched two weeks ago and is still negotiating carriage deals. Comcast is not an issue since the cable provider is a partner. The issue is working out a deal with DirecTV, which is not only the provider with the most regional sports and college networks, but also the provider of choice in most bars throughout the country thanks to NFL Sunday Ticket. DirecTV purportedly rejected a deal of $0.80 per subscriber/month, leaving many fans up and down the left coast without many opening week games. Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, and AT&T U-Verse customers are also affected. [SF Business Times/Eric Young]
  • The State Controller reversed a slew of land transfers between the cities of Milpitas, Morgan Hill, and their respective (and now defunct) redevelopment agencies. That doesn’t bode well for the Diridon ballpark land transfer, though it has to be pointed out that the Controller has already ruled once in San Jose’s favor, saying that Santa Clara County went to far in holding tax increment funds that were due to the City. [Merc /Tracy Seipel]

Finally, I have to thank a reader out there for giving me four prime tickets behind the A’s dugout for Wednesday’s day game against the Angels. I’m only going to use one, so if anyone’s interested in joining me and talking baseball and ballparks or economics, reply with a comment or send me a tweet.

More tomorrow.

Sharks ownership speaks out

Two great pieces on Sharks ownership by the Merc’s David Pollak. Regarding the team, lead owner execs Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos remain committed to keeping payroll near salary cap levels ($70 million in 2013) despite the ownership group losing money on an annual basis. We don’t have access to their books so we can’t validate ownership’s claims, but they are saying that they regularly make cash calls of the ownership group. If that’s the case then there is something to what they’re saying.

The second piece is a wide-ranging Q&A covering multiple off-field topics such as the possibility of competition in the form of a Warriors arena in San Francisco, a looming lockout, and a reaction to the A’s heading 35 miles south.

On the possibility of the A’s moving to San Jose:

Sclavos: “You can always look at these things as a problem or an opportunity. In our discussions, we’re led to believe there’s probably opportunity there for us. We do a lot of things really well in sports marketing and ticket sales and sponsorship sales. We think those assets could be leveraged other places.”

Compton: “Our big concern would be to see that the fan experience doesn’t change as far as parking and traffic and things like that. We’re not going to compromise on that.”

You have to think that the two ownership groups have been talking a good deal about how to share the sandbox that is downtown San Jose. It’s good to hear, and a stark contrast from the bile spewing from the Giants. Compton also had an honest take on the impact of a SF arena. It hadn’t occurred to me that HP Pavilion is now the 6th oldest arena in the league. It makes me wonder what could done to improve the arena in order to raise revenues. More clubby stuff in the rafters like MSG? Changes to the seating bowl?

Compton’s concerns about parking were partly addressed when the Sharks struck a deal with the City for a garage north of the arena. The approved Diridon ballpark EIR calls for no new parking to be built at the ballpark aside for a small amount dedicated for team use. I’m more interested in what could happen with the old San Jose Water property, since that contains the largest lot in the immediate area aside from the arena lots.

This really makes me hope that there isn’t a lengthy work stoppage in the NHL this season. It would be a shame if the only hockey we had to watch this fall were at the Cow Palace.

There’s also a sidebar listing all members of the Sharks ownership group.

News for 8/10/12

We’re overdue for a news roundup. Now seems like a good time for one.

From BANG’s Joe Stiglich:

Last week’s visit to Oakland and San Jose by Bud Selig’s three-man panel foreshadowed this.

Update 1:04 PM – Stiglich has a writeup with quotes from Wolff, such as:

“It’s up to the commissioner’s office,” Wolff said. “… This is a process that unfortunately is taking longer than I hoped, but it’s a fair process.” 

Other news:

  • Janet Marie Smith, who oversaw the construction of Camden Yards and the renovation of Fenway Park, is moving out west to Los Angeles to take a similar role with the Dodgers. If her previous work is any indication, she will keep it classy all the way. [Dodgers press release]
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has set a deadline of September 15 to wrap up labor negotiations before the league imposes a lockout. The NHL and NHLPA are always playing catchup with the other leagues in terms of CBAs. They imposed a 57% player share in the last agreement as other leagues were dropping towards the 50% mark. Now the NHL wants to drop it to 46%. It’s going to be a long winter. [AP]
  • A developer is proposing a ballpark for the Tampa Bay Rays in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg, just over the bridge from Tampa. St. Pete’s stance has been to not allow the Rays to get out of their lease at Tropicana Field unless a new stadium were conceived in St. Pete, not Tampa. No financial details were available. [Tampa Tribune/Michael Sasso]
  • The 49ers and the City of Santa Clara settled a lawsuit with a County oversight board. $30 million in redevelopment money was at stake. In order to keep local school budgets balanced, the 49ers won’t get the $30 million for several years. Seems fair. [SJ Mercury News/Mike Rosenberg]
  • Get used to metal detectors at NFL games starting this season. [Oakland Raiders]
  • Speaking of the Raiders, they are using the league’s new 85% measure to determine sellouts this season. The way it works, a team has to sell out 85% of its non-premium seats by the usual deadline (normally Thursday for a Sunday game) in order for a game not to be subject to a blackout. The catch is that any tickets sold between the 85% and 100% marks are subject to higher revenue sharing. Teams like the Raiders and Bucs chose to use the new standard, the Bills and Jags went with the old standard, which required all non-premium seats to be sold by the deadline.
  • The City of Industry approved a deal to buy 600 acres within city limits for up to $26.7 million. The land is where the somewhat-forgotten Ed Roski/Majestic Realty stadium would be located. The parties still have to scramble to find a proper replacement for now-evaporated redevelopment funding. [Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Ben Baeder]
  • MLB’s postseason schedule has been released (knock on wood). [Biz of Baseball/Maury Brown]

More if it comes.

News for 6/21/12

Good stuff in this edition.

  • Save Oakland Sports is having one of its regular meetings next Monday, June 25 @ 6 PM, at the Red Lion Hotel, 150 Hegenberger, Oakland.
  • CBS Radio and Cumulus (parent of KNBR) announced a new sports radio network that will launch in January. The network is expected to feature talent currently on CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. A key talent on the latter is Jim Rome, whose daily TV show launched in April. Rome’s radio show is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks (a News Corp. subsidiary), so there’s some natural friction there. I have to think that Rome came to CBS-SN with the idea that he might jump to this new radio network too at some point, though at some $30 million per year, his radio persona doesn’t come cheap. Both of the KNBR stations were identified as future network affiliates for the CBS Sports Radio, which creates a bit of a juggling situation for Cumulus. Will Cumulus continue to pay decent money to be an ESPN Radio affiliate and carry some Fox Sports Radio programming on the side? If not, does that free up ESPN Radio to move to The Game? And how does an ESPN Radio relationship conform with The Game’s cozy relationship with Comcast Sportsnet? Fantasy radio operators, start your typewriters.
  • Oakland’s City Council approved a $1 billion plan to finally remake the Oakland Army Base. Unlike some of the more glamorous or controversial plans that have been proposed (movie studio, casino, big box retail, auto row), this one will stay true to the base’s largest neighbor: the Port of Oakland. The plan will include new infrastructure, warehousing by ProLogis, and a logistics center. Every so often the base has come up in discussion here as a potential stadium site, but it’s an idea that’s never had legs within City Hall.
  • Greg Jamison’s quest to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes has hit a big roadblock in the form of a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute. Now there are questions as to whether Jamison, who is not a billionaire, can pull off the acquisition without the sweetheart deal approved by the City of Glendale that would subsidize the team’s continued operation at Jobing.com Arena. The franchise, which is owned by the NHL at the moment, is being forced to lawyer up to complete the sale. If that can’t happen…
  • The City of Seattle and Chris Hansen are getting ready to finalize their new SoDo arena plan. Hansen would pay around 60%, with the remaining 40% coming from public sources. The political minefield is being negotiated right now, as the City Council doesn’t want the plan to come to a public vote, and the Port of Seattle is objecting because it fears that the arena will adversely impact port operations. Any team (NHL, NBA) that relocates to Seattle would play temporarily at Key Arena while the new arena is being built.
  • This week’s cautionary tale about public stadium financing comes from Chester, PA, where not only has a MLS stadium not been a development catalyst, the stadium tenant Philadelphia Union missed a $500k PILOT payment in 2010.
  • The BCS will have a four-team playoff starting in 2014. Semifinal games would rotate among the four current BCS sites, with the championship game going to the highest bidder among them.
  • Jim Caple has another one of his ballpark column series, this time an elimination tournament of all 30 MLB parks. In the tournament, fans can vote online for their favorite ballpark in each matchup. We’re at the semifinal stage, with Fenway Park (seeded #2) facing off against AT&T Park (#3) and Camden Yards (#4) vs. tourney Cinderella Miller Park (#24). The Coliseum was seeded #28 and lost in the first round to Target Field (#5) by a whopping 91% to 9% with over 60,000 votes, which is about right. Don’t feel bad though. New Yankee Stadium also lost in a landslide. The Coli’s Mt. Davis was also awarded Worst View. Finally, Caple gets a shoutout to Shibe Park, which ended up #8 in his list of places he wishes were still around.

Happy reading.