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The Orioles have a new 30-year lease with the city of Baltimore to keep playing in Camden Yards. It should have been a pretty open-shut acceptance months and months ago, since the Orioles receive a $600 million public subsidy that’s already been set aside for them by signing said lease, all to be put toward stadium renovations, but team owner John Angelos has been a nuisance for at least that long, holding up a deal in attempts to acquire land, for free, that wasn’t available. All so the Orioles could build a Battery-esque space around Camden that they could profit from, just like the Braves.
As Neil deMause noted over at Field of Schemes, it’s unclear exactly what this deal is, or what pushed Angelos to finally agree to it. Did he manage to extract more from the other side, or did he just accept that the deal that’s been on the table is the only one he’s going to get? There’s a press conference on Friday that will either shed a little light on things or just be the kind that repeats what has already been said outloud, only with photo opps included.
The Nevada State Education Association formed a political-action committee, Schools Over Stadiums, to attempt to stop the public funding of an A’s ballpark in Las Vegas. In news that is very depressing to see, a coalition of businesses and lobbyists have now sued the PAC in an attempt to get the signature-collecting stage of the petition stopped, which would make becoming a referendum more difficult. The former head of the Nevada AFL-CIO is one of the plaintiffs, which is where part of that depression comes from. Sure, it would be nice for the unionized construction workers to have a big job to do in the state, but as too often happens, no one here is thinking about the long-term ramifications of any decision. Pushing for a short-term, temporary construction job is choosing stadiums over schools, which will impact the education and future of everyone in Nevada who isn’t attending a private school. How is this any different than the kind of damage that comes from bargaining in favor of short-term concessions that will lead to long-term negative consequences for a union?
This is something I’m going to want to look at before going on at length — not a lawyer and all that — but just know that if this is a successful suit, the referendum will need to be reworked to include the missing language, and the signatures to that point will not count and will need to be collected once more. A delay tactic is the best the opponents can do, because the truth of the matter is that Schools Over Stadium is in the right here, in terms of the implications of allowing the public to fund this billionaire’s ballpark.
My latest at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) is on how we don’t have to guess at how the A’s will “change” if they do get the ballpark they want out of Vegas. We’ve already seen how John Fisher reacts to getting a new stadium, because he’s also the owner of Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes. And he’s already complaining on the record about the new stadium built for a 2015 opening, and how it doesn’t provide what the club needs from a revenue perspective, which keeps the team from being as competitive as it should be.
It’s all a crock, of course, but that doesn’t stop Fisher (nor Dave Kaval) from saying it all. And they’ll come up with excuses for why the A’s can’t spend like optimists expect them to after their Vegas move, too, because that’s how this works. Once he has his ballpark, he can do whatever he wants: that lease will hold, unless he decides to break it due to a state-of-the-art clause, anyway, which will just get him even more public money from one city or another.
The Rays have a deal for a publicly funded ballpark. The A’s do, too, barring a successful challenge from Schools Over Stadiums. The Orioles have their new 30-year lease. The Brewers, though, are still searching for the public funding they want as they leverage their own state-of-the-art clause around, and the current number attached to that is $700 million. The latest version of the plan has Milwaukee and Milwaukee County chipping in $200 million of that figure — there will be a public hearing on this plan next week.
As for the Royals’ stadium efforts, well, no one really knows. The team’s weird plan to pit potential locations against each other probably isn’t working as they intended, because they delayed unveiling a winner in September like they had publicly stated they would, courtesy of a really strange letter from owner John Sherman. It would be great if both locations just keep refusing to Sherman’s overtures, because, as things stand, he’s looking for what will likely be a record amount of public subsidies to fund a new ballpark. And the fountains aren’t even expected to be as big in this new one! How can you even consider it an upgraded facility when that’s the case?
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