BOB: Stadium updatesby Brian Borawski
May 08, 2013
Wrigley Field stadium posturingLast week I talked about how the city of Chicago and the Chicago Cubs came to an agreement over Wrigley Field stadium renovations as well as the uphill battle both sides face in getting those renovations in place (while keeping everyone happy). Then, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts came out firing and said that if the renovations weren’t approved, the Cubs might have to move. He later backed away from the threats but it looks like the usual stadium posturing is out in full force in Chicago—it happens in just about every other city that goes through this.
As usual, Field of Schemes is all over this one. If the article doesn’t address it directly, it had links to why the Cubs would never move as well as what Ricketts originally said. The article says that while the Cubs aren’t looking for direct public money, they are looking for city subsidies that are just as, if not more, valuable in the long run.
The Cubs are looking to install a new video board as well as add quite a bit of outside signage (to the tune of 35,000 feet). Residents are worried about a “Times Square effect.”
Palm Beach looks to nab two spring training teamsIn the past I’ve talked about the “spring training wars” between Arizona and Florida, with Arizona getting the better of it over the last decade. We haven’t seen any teams jump from the Grapefruit League to the Cactus League in a couple of years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t movement. Florida plans on helping out the area by paying for a two-team complex in Palm Beach County to lock in a couple of teams for the long haul.
The new complex would put two teams just four miles away from the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins in Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium. The two teams that appear to be most likely to occupy the new complex are the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros, because both have agreements that expire in the next couple of years.
Athletics lease extension hits tax revenue snagIt looked like it was a forgone conclusion that the Oakland Athletics and the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority would agree to a lease extension that would give the Athletics a home for the next few years while they hash out their stadium situation. Even that now has hit a snag as it appears that the Athletics may have been short-changing the county.
It all comes down to parking revenue. The team collects a set amount for every car that parks in its lot each game, then is supposed to pay a portion of that back in taxes. The problem is, the A's are supposedly not paying back the taxes and between that and the rent on the extension, we now have a stalemate. The Coliseum says that the team owes $7 million to the authority.
Spring training attendance sets recordsBut both the Cactus League and Grapefruit League had solid showings at the box office this spring. More than 1.6 million fans bought tickets to spring training games in the Grapefruit League, with seven venues setting attendance records. For the second straight season, eight teams topped the 100,000 mark. The Boston Red Sox edged the New York Yankees in spring training attendance with 164,840 tickets sold.
In Arizona, the Cactus League set an overall attendance record with 1.68 million tickets sold. Of the 15 Cactus League teams, 14 showed an uptick in attendance with only the Colorado Rockies showing a small dip from the year before. The Cactus League Association estimated that the solid attendance brought $360 million to the local economy.
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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