Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Everything they do centers on cash (sports-related economic development)

Joan Vennochi writes in the Boston Globe, in "Owners hurl opening pitch ," about the Boston Red Sox and their negotiations to take an ownership in a radio station and switch its broadcasts to that station. She says: is not the main reason the Sox are contemplating a deal with WBOS. Everything they do revolves around cash. They always want more of it. They are expanding Fenway to increase ticket revenue. On Beacon Hill, they are still lobbying for $55 million in public money to improve infrastructure around Fenway and make it more attractive for development proposals, including their own.

As they negotiate, Sox ownership is trying to squeeze more money from WEEI -- ballpark estimates range from $10 million to $14 million. How does that guaranteed revenue stack up against the hassles and market risk of radio station ownership? The Sox will have to weigh it all. Right now, WEEI is one-stop shopping for Sox fans, who enjoy blanket coverage of on-field play and off-field antics, delivered with testosterone-laden attitude.

(Note that the Washington Redskins are creating their own radio network, sacrificing broadcast reach for 100% control. See "Redskins radio promises kickoff.")

Regency Furniture Stadium, WaldorfA proposed outfield sign shows the name of the stadium's sponsor, Regency Furniture. Groundbreaking is expected in the next several weeks. (Photo By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post) From "One Step Closer to Opening Day: Baseball Officials Reveal Stadium Name," from the Washington Post about the development of a minor league baseball team and stadium in Southern Maryland. Question: where is the place-based marketing value in naming a stadium after a furniture company? How does this build civic pride?

This is what the Comcast-Baltimore Orioles dispute is about. Money. Major League Baseball gave a majority of the Washington Nationals broadcast rights to the Baltimore Orioles, to try and shut up the owner of that team (unsuccessfully). Because the new Orioles-controlled-majority-owned cable network will compete with Comcast's own regional sports network, Comcast is refusing to broadcast games to strengthen their negotiating position.

As this Washington Times article, "Comcast, MASN negotiate" states:

Comcast, which has refused to offer MASN to its subscribers, said yesterday it would begin showing Nationals games immediately if MLB commissioner Bud Selig agreed to a new broadcast arrangement allowing networks to compete for exclusive rights for the team.

Under the proposal, an existing compensation agreement between Major League Baseball and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos for the Nationals' move to the region would be scrapped, and the Nationals then would be permitted to sell their television rights to the partner of their choice, including Comcast SportsNet. Comcast said if MLB agreed to this provision, it would begin carrying Nationals games immediately.

Why the House Committee on Government Reform focuses on the "failure to broadcast" rather than the restraint of trade issues, or how cities prostrate themselves before sports leagues and hand them fistfuls of cash for stadiums and arenas and other subsidies (when necessary) is a further demonstration that Congress continues to fail to focus on the fundamentals...

At least the Washington Times coverage of this dispute is direct, in these pieces too: "TV deal still not resolved" by Tim Lemke--a business, not a sports, reporter, and this editorial, "Rabbit ears and Peter Angelos."
Everything they do centers on cash...House Government Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., second from left, meets with Gary McCollum, vice president and regional manager Cox Cable of northern Virginia, right, and Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, second from right, prior to the House Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Friday, April 7, 2006 to discuss broadcasting Washington Nationals baseball games. Baltimore Orioles Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter Angelos is at left. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

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