Sports teams shenanigans in Columbus Ohio and Miami
Last November there was an article in the Washington Post about the likelihood of the professional soccer team leaving Columbus, Ohio for the greener economic fields of Austin, Texas. (Also see "The Crew want to move to Austin – but does Austin want the Crew," Guardian.)
Oddly, the article isn't accessible, nor findable within the website, but I seem to recall it making the point that Columbus has developed into a good soccer town, especially concerning matches between countries, for the World Cup, etc. and that the "organizational and community capital" (my words, not the column) would be stranded without the pro team.
According to the Austin Chronicle ("Columbus Crew News: Delay of Game? Legalese in Ohio could slow soccer team’s move to Austin"), this may be delayed because the State of Ohio does have a law requiring teams that received local or state government financing/benefits have to come up with a relocation agreement or wait six months. From the article:
The City of Columbus filed a motion Monday seeking to slow efforts by Precourt Sports Ventures to relocate the Columbus Crew SC to Austin. City Attorney Zach Klein's motion was filed as part of Ohio A.G. Mike DeWine's suit against PSV, which cites a state law requiring pro sports team owners who benefit from tax dollars to either reach an agreement with the host city or wait six months before relocating. Klein's motion argued that PSV could potentially wait out the six-month period, effectively preventing the people of Columbus from having a "reasonable opportunity" to buy the team. Should the motion be accepted, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas could reset the start of the six-month window, throwing a wrench into Anthony Precourt's effort to have his team playing soccer in Austin by next March.Not requiring an agreement but imposing a waiting period makes for an easy out. The law isn't strong enough because it is still easy to leave, but is a start and more states should enact such legislation, but with much stronger provisions including "kill fees" for leaving if they've received tax dollars and benefits.
-- "The Columbus Crew's Austin Relocation Effort Has Its Own Oafish Astroturfing Campaign," Deadspin
2. I've written about the ongoing saga of the Miami Marlins trying to stiff Miami-Dade County out of a "success payment" of five percent of the proceeds from the sale of the team ("Protecting local government interests: Jurisdictions at risk from slimy sports teams owners and the Miami Marlins as an example").
The new owners are a party to the suit and now they are trying to claim they are a foreign corporation ("To avoid Miami courtroom, Marlins claim citizenship in the British Virgin Islands," Miami Herald; "Miami Marlins try to duck lawsuit by claiming international citizenship," Sports Illustrated) and therefore the lawsuit should be moved to federal courts, and evading the jurisdiction of local courts which thus far haven't been particularly favorable to the claims of the defendants. From the Herald:
Lawyers representing the Marlins told a federal judge that at least one corporation that owns part of Marlins Teamco — the company Jeter and majority owner Bruce Sherman formed last year to buy the franchise — is based in the Caribbean. As a result, team lawyers argued, the dispute with Miami-Dade should be governed by jurisdictional rules that apply to international disputes.
The legal argument drew a sharp brush back from county lawyers, who mocked the "Jeter Marlins" for invoking treaty law in a lawsuit involving a Miami baseball team and the municipal government that owns Marlins Park.
"This is the most local of disputes, involving a locally-negotiated contract made between local parties under local law and requiring local performance," county lawyers wrote in arguing to keeping the lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
If successful, the Marlins' request would strip the case from a Miami-Dade judge who has already sided with Miami and Miami-Dade in a preliminary ruling rejecting the arbitration that Loria lawyers requested from the outset. If the Marlins are deemed a foreign-owned corporation, a federal judge could take over and then consider whether to trigger an arbitration clause in the contract the two governments signed with Loria in 2009 to steer public dollars to a stadium complex that opened three years later.
So both the previous owners and the new owners seem to be "slimy" as it relates to their actions as "partners" as part of the "public private partnership" involving the team, Major League Baseball, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County as it relates to the city and county hosting the team and paying towards the construction of a stadium.
For all the talk of "public-private partnerships," this is an example of the reality that unless the counterparty acts like a "partner" they aren't, and we shouldn't allow the fiction to go on of calling such arrangements "partnerships".
Like with the State of Ohio legislation, it is important that contracts between the government and team "partners" need to include provisions on corporate domicile, where to sue if need be, etc.