Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
June 15, 2005
Coliseum No Longer an Option for A’s
Bud Selig’s fraternity brother and Athletic’s owner Lew Wolff has abandoned the Oakland Coliseum area as a prospective site for the Athletics' new home after opposition arose from the Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors. A new site has been proprosed by Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, and Wolff refused to comment on it because it’s only been brought up in one brief conversation. The site is a city-owned 65-acre piece of land just west of I-880 where Signature Properties has agreed to build 3,100 housing units and 2,000 square feet of retail space.
While they’d be packing it in, De La Fuente feels that there’s room for a park. A normal-sized park takes up about 15 acres, but some ballparks, like Pac Bell in San Francisico, occupy a mere 12.5 acres of ground space. Michael Ghilmetti, the president of Signature Properties, has said that while nobody has asked him to fit the park into his plans, he’s open to discussing it with the team's front office.
Mets Win in New York’s Pursuit of 2012 Summer Olympics
It’s incredible what desperation can do for you. And it’s the City of New York and Mayor Bloomberg, desperate to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to New York City, that have helped the New York Mets get a commitment from the city to help them build a new stadium. Under the plan, the Mets are responsible for the cost of the stadium, set to open in 2009 next to Shea Stadium in Queens. The city and state will pay $180 million for infrastructure improvements surrounding the stadium, and they’ll also pay $100 million to convert the stadium for Olympic use if New York is the chosen site.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon had put together plans for a stadium modeled after Ebbets Field, but it’s unclear whether this will be part of the plans with the city. The estimated cost to the Mets for building the new stadium has been estimated at around $600 million.
Steinbrenner to Build New Yankee Stadium By Himself
For years, George Steinbrenner has threatened New York City into providing him funds to build a new ballpark. He’s used Manhattan and New Jersey as prospective locations, but now he seems to be turning over a new leaf. As usual, I’m skeptical about Steinbrenner’s intentions, but at least according to The New York Times, the Yankees are going to call a news conference in the coming weeks to announce their intentions to build a new ballpark in the Bronx.
The rumored $800 million project is led by team president Randy Levine, who served under Rudy Giuliani’s administration and is being paid in full by the team. The state is expected to pay $300 million to build parking garages around the stadium, but the state will get all of the parking revenue; they’ll actually be getting a return on their investment as opposed to giving their return away like past stadium deals in other cities.
Billionaires Always Get What They Want
Okay maybe not always, but it seems like after years of bickering with the cities, states and counties in Minnesota, the various government agencies now appear to bending over backward to get billionaire Twins owner Carl Pohlad his retractable roof. At least he’ll get the roof if some state lawmakers have anything to say about it, as it appears that an amendment to the current Hennepin County sales tax bill is going to provide the necessary $115 million for the retractable roof through a tax increment financing plan.
The logic is that if they later decide to add a roof to the proposed stadium, it would cost two or three times as much as if they just add it on at the beginning. The chief sponsor of the original stadium bill Brad Finstad has offered some reservations regarding the amendment. He feels they currently have the votes to pass the sales tax increase, but he’s unclear as to whether he has the votes if the roof amendment is added.
Tax increment financing is a subject I could cover in an entire column. Basically the state will borrow the money to pay for the roof and pay off the debt with the increased tax revenue from the stadium. State officials are anticipating a $7-million annual tax revenue increase, which they feel is enough to pay for the roof.
The problem is the deficit the state will incur if they don’t meet their anticipated goal, which in this case is the $7 million. There’s also controversy because many feel that these extra tax proceeds should be used to bolster the state’s general fund. Supporters feel that the extra money wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the new development, so spending it to help the project is valid.
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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