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On Sunday, the Oakland A's sewage system backed up. Neil deMause of fieldofschemes.com said one thing was certain: there would be renewed calls for a new, subsidized stadium. True. Major League Baseball quickly jumped in and declared, "As we have stated many times, the Oakland A's need a new ballpark. Sunday's unfortunate incident is a stark illustration that they need a long-term solution." Translation: taxpayers will have to ante up to keep poop from polluting the place. However, when asked if he deliberately sabotaged the plumbing, A's owner Lew Wolff declared, "It's all a bunch of c**p."

And on the topic of subsidized c**p, the Miami Heat basketball team wants a subsidy for the arena it plays in. Some history: the team got a subsidized arena in 1988. But only eight years later, it got another one. So the current one is still pretty young. At least, Miami taxpayers may be in no mood for dishing out more for a pro team. In 2009, the Miami Marlins baseball team wangled a $490 million subsidy for a new ballpark -- $2.49 billion, actually, through 2049. So the owner, Jeff Loria, reduced the payroll from $108 million to $35 million. (Some say he shed almost $150 million in future payroll. These numbers can be interpreted a number of different ways.) Attendance is terrible. So is the team. As of today (June 18), Miami is last in the Eastern Division of the National League with a record barely over .300. Miami citizens are so mad that the basketball Heat and football Dolphins may face problems fleecing taxpayers.

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Comments

David Dodd June 18, 2013 @ 11:06 a.m.

I have no idea about how much money the Athletics are expecting from public funds, but MLB is supposed to provide additional funding in some circumstances. When I get a chance, I'll research it. The city of San Jose is suing MLB, that's a breaking story. MLB dragged it's feet over giving the Athletics permission to relocate to San Jose. And the Oakland Colosseum is a dump, maybe worse than Qualcomm. The reason that the raw sewage backed up, flooding out the club houses, is because the field is below sea level (flooding on the field has always been an issue, much like at Qualcomm), and so are the club houses. The baseball teams had to use the Raiders locker room (both teams in that room), as it is conveniently located ABOVE sea level.

Bad planning, Don, irrespective of the issue with a new stadium from public funds.

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 12:25 p.m.

David Dodd: Is Qualcomm really a dump? I am told it is still a fine stadium -- more than adequate for the use it gets. Keep in mind that we have college stadiums (University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, etc.) that have been in use for around a century or more, with occasional upgrades, of course. I am also told by one who goes there regularly that the Oakland baseball field is a good one. If these stadiums are not adequate, then private capital should pay to build new ones. Don't count on Major League Baseball or the National Football League, for that matter, to put significant capital into new facilities. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark June 18, 2013 @ 3:09 p.m.

Don--unfortunately, Qualcomm IS a dump. Adding seats at the Q several times does not constitute an upgrade. The plumbing is not good (although I don't believe it has reached the depths of the Oakland stadium issues). The place is crumbling, but that falls on the City for not maintaining it properly. The only good thing about Qualcomm Stadium is the playing field--that is usually in excellent condition. The scoreboard is an antique that is hard to see during the late afternoon. The P.A. system is pieced together--since the city can't get parts for it, they have to "mickey-mouse" it to keep it somewhat functional (according to a conversation I had with Donna Frye about that several years ago). Broken seats--an outer parking lot that is starting to look like many of San Diego's streets--the list could go on and on. Don't get me wrong; I am not advocating that San Diego spend hundreds of millions of $$ on a new stadium, but the city has created the current mess at Qualcomm by many years of deferred maintenance (similar to most of the rest of the city). Perhaps the only thing the city can hope for is something La Playa Heritage (I believe) has posted before--that Farmers will give San Diego the $700 mil to put their name on a stadium here, instead of giving it to AEG in LA for their failed downtown stadium plan.

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 8:32 p.m.

aardvark: For $700 million, I would think a company would want a larger market than San Diego. LA market is 13 million, San Diego at 3.1 million less than one-fourth that. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark June 18, 2013 @ 8:56 p.m.

I agree. I was just repeating what someone else said in a different forum. I don't think Farmers wants anything to do with any stadium in San Diego.

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Don Bauder June 19, 2013 @ 10:02 p.m.

aardvark: Yes, San Diego is too small a market for that kind of investment. As this drags on and on, Farmers may not want LA either. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 18, 2013 @ 11:20 a.m.

When are "sports" fans going to figure this game out? The ground rules are simple: filthy rich owner insists on usually unnecessary upgrades, or worse, a brand new colossus, threatening to move the franchise if not enacted, triggering mass hysteria amongst the fandom, who then head to the voting booth in order to bankroll the billionaire boy in his admirable crusade to liberate them from the alleged hordes lying in wait to sack their heroes.

After the changes are in place, the insatiable despot either breaks up the team, keeping the bargain-basement players, and/or sends prices through the dome, for tickets, parking, food, beverages, memorabilia, etc., ad infinitum, in the process attracting more fatcats, and rendering the games unaffordable to the majority of the loyal fans who enabled the tyrant's swinishness in the first place!

Oh, the horror.

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 12:31 p.m.

Duhbya: The team that gets a taxpayer-financed stadium ALWAYS raises prices. That's a big part of the scam. First, the owner vows, as John Moores did, that he won't raise prices. Then when he gets the new stadium, he jacks them up considerably. Teams with new stadiums always enjoy a period of novelty effect when attendance is very good, whether or not the team is. For the owner, it's all gravy during those years. Later, prices come down. That's exactly what the Padres did -- jacked them up for the novelty effect years, then started cutting. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 18, 2013 @ 1:27 p.m.

Perhaps the lower prices occur more often with baseball teams, but as far as I know, the lone NFL team to drop prices last season was Tampa Bay, due to lagging attendance. And it seems that that inane blackout rule comes into play with ever-increasing regularity in taxpayer-subsidized locales with a soupçon of well-to-do football fans. I'm amazed that they get away with it. On second thought, I'm not amazed at all.

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 1:49 p.m.

Duhbya: I don't know if Tampa Bay was the only team to drop prices. Those data are available from a Chicago company whose name escapes me now, but you can find it on google. High def, big screen TV is a competitor for teams now -- another factor in the mix. That should be another consideration in new stadium decisions. Some people expect MLB or NFL to chip in on a stadium. Hey, the leagues make loans. Loans have to be paid back. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd June 18, 2013 @ 3:16 p.m.

Don: Qualcomm is a dump. I've been inside of the guts and all over the field, several times. San Diego can't afford a new stadium, so the Chargers are going to play there until they move somewhere else. With Oakland, if you want to chase a story in your spare time, follow how the Athletics have been trying to get out of there for years. The City of San Jose filed a lawsuit against MLB this morning for not moving on allowing the A's to pursue a stadium there and move. MLB has now come back with this statement, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, that the lawsuit "has no basis in law or fact." This one will get juicy before it's over.

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 8:36 p.m.

David Dodd: This is true of any business. If it can't make money in one location, it has to find another one. But the Chargers still make plenty of money at Qualcomm. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark June 18, 2013 @ 8:59 p.m.

And they make that money at the expense of the millions of $$ that the city must fork out to keep Qualcomm running. If anyone thinks a new stadium will be any different, they are fools.

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Don Bauder June 19, 2013 @ 7:37 a.m.

aardvark: You can be certain that the taxpayers will be raped in any stadium deal. The team will make promises, a compliant city council will buy into them, city bureaucrats will juggle numbers to make the promises look credible, the team will spend millions to publicize its lies, and in the end the taxpayers will get fleeced. Example: Petco Park. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd June 18, 2013 @ 3:21 p.m.

In fact, here's the entire statement from MLB media relations:

Statement from MLB EVP/Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred in response to the lawsuit filed by the City of San Jose today:

“In considering the issues related to the Oakland Athletics, Major League Baseball has acted in the best interests of our fans, our communities and the league. The lawsuit is an unfounded attack on the fundamental structures of a professional sports league. It is regrettable that the city has resorted to litigation that has no basis in law or in fact.”

Keep in mind that baseball teams are franchises of MLB, so MLB has more clout than if this was some other type of business lawsuit.

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aardvark June 18, 2013 @ 5:07 p.m.

If MLB had a real commissioner, he would tell the Giants to pound sand, and allow Oakland to move to San Jose. The stadium (last I checked) was projected to cost $400 mil, and seat somewhere in the mid 30,000 range (making it the smallest in MLB). Didn't see who was going to pay for it...

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David Dodd June 18, 2013 @ 5:27 p.m.

I agree. Both clubs are in the same market anyway, and the Giants sell out every game. The Athletics aren't going to pull any fans away from the Giants no matter where they play. Bud Selig is a puppet for MLB ownership.

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 8:41 p.m.

David Dodd: Every commissioner is a puppet for the owners. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 8:40 p.m.

aardvark: It would not be so easy to tell the Giants to pound sand. They are an institution. And they have won two of the last three World Series, haven't they? Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark June 18, 2013 @ 10:04 p.m.

To me, the fact that the Giants have won 2 of the last 3 World Series is irrelevant. The A's would be moving 40 miles farther away--the Combined Statistical Area which includes San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco is almost 8.4 million people. With Oakland moving to San Jose, that would not change--both teams draw from the same regional area. I think any fan drop off for the Giants would be negligible, but it should help the A's tremendously.

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Don Bauder June 19, 2013 @ 7:44 a.m.

aardvark: The 8.4 million figure for the total Bay Area, embracing San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose-Santa Clara, etc. is correct. The income, of course, is heaviest in Silicon Valley, or the San Jose-Santa Clara area. The income figure is quite important. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 18, 2013 @ 8:38 p.m.

David Dodd: There are very few lawsuits in which both parties do not proclaim that the suit "has no basis in law or in fact." Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard June 26, 2013 @ 1:19 a.m.

I'm late to this thread, but I have to laugh at the silly attacks on our wonderful Stadium. Since when do you buy a new house when the plumbing goes bad, or your sound system or television seems old fashioned? Is it a good idea to move to the slums because you deferred repairing your home? Fact is, the present stadium is a masterpiece in a great location. Certainly it should be maintained better, but the proposed monstrosity will likely cost more to maintain.

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