Have public subsidies disappeared with the recession?
Ken Belson’s latest deals with the dwindling public subsidies for sports stadiums and there’s a ton of good stuff in the piece. He discusses the New York Yankees and New York Mets paying for their ballparks with mostly private funds, and he poses the question—are these exceptions to the rule or a result of growing resistance to public subsidies?
There’s also a brief discussion of the cities that have balked at public subsidies, and there’s even a discussion of the situation in Arizona, which is a state that eventually caved with regard to both the Chicago Cubs spring training home in Mesa and a stadium for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Of course there are public subsidies and then there are those more deceptive ways that cities help ball clubs without actually putting forth the cash. Neil deMause has a nice rebuttal to the column at his website, Field of Schemes. There he talks about how the public subsidies for the New York stadiums were well over 50%, and he’s a little harsh (but he backs it up) in his criticism of Belson’s piece.
Frank McCourt meets with MLB
After the legal blow that Frank McCourt took in his divorce battle last month—he’s now co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers with his estranged wife, Jamie McCourt—Frank sat down with executives at MLB to talk about his plans for the team. There were three days worth of meetings in which he outlined his plans for keeping the team. It looks like the only person McCourt didn’t meet with was Bud Selig himself.
There were no details on what exactly was discussed, but the meeting was noteworthy due to McCourt’s insistence that he’s going to keep the team. Then again, it’s looking less and less certain that the situation is going to allow him to do so, at least fully intact, so we'll have to wait and see what happens next.
Phoenix looks to keep Brewers in Cactus League
On the heels of the city of Mesa, AZ giving in and paying for a brand new spring training home for the Chicago Cubs, the city of Phoenix is looking to avoid a confrontation with the Milwaukee Brewers by signing them to a long-term lease. The Brewers have the option of leaving the city after the 2012 season and if the Brewers choose, they have as many as three two-year lease extensions. Still, it looks like the city wants a more stable commitment moving forward.
While the Brewers demands haven’t been made public and while they haven’t threatened to leave, it looks like it’s going to take some ballpark enhancements to get them sign on for the long haul. It looks like they’re not going to start from scratch though and build them a brand new ballpark.
Kinston Indians celebrates bittersweet anniversary
Kiston has hosted the Cleveland Indians for nearly 25 years and while this is an anniversary worth noting, it’s also sad because the streak is coming to an end. With new ownership, the Kinston Indians are going to move to Zebulon, N.C. beginning in 2011. That leaves baseball in Kinston in limbo.
This is the focus of Ben Hill’s latest, and there’s a lot of good stuff in his piece. He talks about the impending move, has a discussion on how the city will cope with a lame duck team as well as some of the fan reactions. Just one more reason Ben Hill’s column is one of my favorite reads.
Red Sox postpone bullpen renovation
The Boston Red Sox had plans to widen their bullpen at Fenway Park by nine feet, but things fell through when a state commission decided not to give the team a tax break for it. The Boston Landmarks Commission was on board, but the Massachusetts Historical Commission eventually determined the Red Sox wouldn’t get the tax break for the renovation.
It looks like the plans aren’t dead, but are on hold indefinitely. Because Fenway is considered a designated landmark, they have to go to these commissions before they do any renovations to the historic ballpark.
MLB playoff, instant replay expansion on hold
Yesterday, Bud Selig announced that MLB wouldn't expand either the playoffs or instant replay in 2011. He said both issues are being talked about in committee but that nothing is going to be set when the season opens on March 31. The owners meet this week and it looks like they're going to continue to talk about it, and it looks like the talks are going to begin internally with regard to the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.
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