Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Think our stadium renovations are pricey?

Few things kindle public outrage like professional sports teams asking local governments to help pay for stadiums and stadium renovations. That's what the Panthers did Monday night with a $125 million request to spruce up Bank of America Stadium. The angry letters already are hitting the inbox here at O-pinion. We'll be publishing some in tomorrow's Observer, and we're crafting an editorial today explaining our view of the request.

Meanwhile, in Miami, an NFL team went big with an ask of its own Monday. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants to make $400 million in renovations at Sun Life Stadium - including a canopy to protect fans from the elements. Ross says he'll pay for half of the renovations, which he says are necessary if Miami wants to keep attracting Super Bowls. Miami is a candidate to host the 2016 title game - the 50th Super Bowl - but the 2007 game there was a washout.

Ross also pulled out the relocation card in a Monday press conference, promising that he would keep his team in Miami for 25 years if public officials came through with the money. The implication: no fix-it-up money, no promise we'll stay.

You can guess how that went over. "This is welfare for a billionaire," said Norman Braman, himself a billionaire Miami auto magnate. Said Miami NewTimes writer Tim Elfrink: "For decades now, team owners have exploited the emotional ties between the public and their franchises to extort ever more cash."

There's some history to justify at least some of the bad feelings in Miami, where city and county officials spent $500 million on a new Florida Marlins stadium that opened last year. After a dismal 2012 season, the team traded away most of its top talent, infuriating fans.   

Give the Dolphins' owner credit, though: Ross made his request in front of the cameras and notebooks Monday, unlike the Panthers, who were allowed to discuss theirs in a closed-door City Council meeting. The team and the city have both benefited from a strong partnership throughout the years, but taxpayers deserve a public explanation of the $125 million request. The Panthers should offer their perspective soon.  Peter St. Onge



WashuOtaku said...

Wow, Peter has been on a role lately here. I personally believe that anytime an owner wants to move, I say let'em; we can ask George Shin how well that worked-out for him. And you are also right, at least the Miami situation is in public while the Panthers keep it behind doors.

Wiley Coyote said...

Notice the tax was implemented to avoid a run-in with the Chamber and the CCCP.

A taxk on hotel/motels and or tax on rental cars would have been better, as the bulk of the sting would be removed from Mecklenburg County citizens.

What a bunch of wussies.

Garth Vader said...

The seven who voted for this must be removed from office, immediately and by any means necessary.

blockhead said...

You will be sadly remiss if you do not give a good, solid reason why The Observer failed to go to court to seek an injunction forcing the city to open that meeting. There traditionally have been three and only three reasons for closing public meetings: Property acquisition; personnel matters; and conferences with counsel. Once, when newspapers were more than apologists for business interests, The Observer (or the previous Charlotte News) would have been in court in a heartbeat to force the city's hand.

The Observer Editorial Board said...


It's a fair question, and reporter Steve Harrison, who covered the meeting, explains in an article that should be posted soon. Short version: The city has a case for saying the meeting is legal.



Garth Vader said...


Deleting my post about the conflict of interest between your boss Batten and the uptown interests his wife works for will not make that conflict go away.