The city of Cleveland is going to pay for upgrades to the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the non-profit corporation who decides whether to approve these projects, Gateway Economic Development Corporation, also has no idea how, where or even if they can pay for it. Which does seem to be a slight problem?
The idea that this Philadelphia 76ers deal can be looked at as privately funded is crazy. Nobody can say whether this project is actually privately funded until all the details of the project are released by the team. We don't know who is paying for the land where the new arena would sit. Furthermore, the 76ers still intend to demand a “tax increment financing deal” that would cut their property tax rates and allow them to take taxpayer money to fund the construction.
Several weeks ago, the current mayor of Oklahoma City (OKC) stated that an agreement for a new arena with the Oklahoma City Thunder should be finished “before the end of 2023”. He also called the current Arena “not what it used to be…the building itself is a growing liability”.
In September of last year, the San Antonio Spurs General Manager and City Manager met to discuss improvements to the city-owned Alamodome, where the Spurs play home games. We know this because the San Antonio Express-News has text messages showing the GM asking to meet the city official to discuss "facility infrastructure".
Weeks ago, MSE met with DC leaders to discuss expensive improvements that the team wants to be done to the arena. MSE apparently went into this meeting with the hope that “the city (would) help pay for (the project) as an investment in a major economic driver in the struggling downtown”. Normally, the city is obligated legally to give the sports team whatever it wants for renovations or upgrades (see the Bengals as the king of this tactic). Here, the District has no obligation or requirement. That hasn't stopped the District from giving MSE $70 million in 2007. But according to MSE, the arena needs substantive “structural work”. MSE somewhat implies that the city should give the team money since MSE has “has invested $125 million into the arena since 2010” and plans to invest an additional $80 million this year with building development.
Last week, Michael Jordan decided to cash out as majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. The new owners will have an upgraded arena thanks to the city council, last week, voting to spend $215 million dollars in taxpayer money for Spectrum Center upgrades. For these upgrades, the team extended its lease until 2045. Included in this deal is not just arena upgrades. The new agreement includes plans to build a $60 million dollar practice facility.
Did we mention that San Diego, the city who did win the expansion team, paid a $500 million expansion fee? That is three times what their proposed stadium was supposed to cost. Yikes. The mayor also seems to enjoy telling the public how much he is doing behind the scenes. He can't just tell us because...he can't. He told the Sacramento Bee that when it comes to whether Sacramento will get an MLS team, the mayor wishes that he “could tell you and the public everything, but I can't”. What about possibly getting an MLB team? The A's? He can't tell us this either but know that he talked “with people who are very involved in these questions”.
Sacramento's debt manager recently announced that at the end of 2024, a city assessment will need to be done to figure out how the city will pay off the arena's bond debt. The city may be forced to dip into their general fund to pay off the bonds that are due. Similar to what the city had to do in 2021-2022 when arena revenues were again down to a point where the revenues did not pay off the yearly bond payment.
Last summer, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they were going to try to build a brand-new $1.3 billion dollar arena in the Chinatown district of Philadelphia. This comes after the city spent roughly $250 million on the arena in 2018. Even though the team continues to publicly assert that the arena will be “privately funded”, nobody has seen a contract which proves it. Two years ago, the 76ers owners claimed that they would “privately fund” a business development, while also wanting almost $750 million in tax breaks and incentives. Therefore, the public was, in fact, paying a lot for the project.
Why exactly is the city of Raleigh even entertaining the team if they want more money in the near future? The team pays $0 per year in rent yet collects 100% of revenue from “concessions, gameday advertising, television rights, parking and luxury and club suites”. Moreover, keep in mind that the team already gets $4.335 million per year to “offset arena operating expenses”. Doesn't the city do that anyway?