Our J.R. Lind weighs in on a bad deal at Sulphur Dell and the only way to rescue it — just buy the team. It's been done elsewhere and the manageable tab would bring with it some big benefits.
The value of the Sounds is hard to pin down (though, presumably, it's gone up with the promise of a new stadium). But Forbes' recent estimate of the 20 most valuable minor league teams did not include the Sounds. The 20th ranked team on that list — the Oklahoma City RedHawks — came in at $21 million.
For, say, $20 million, the city gets the team ... and it gets the revenue. Not just the increased sales taxes budgeted in the financing plan — all of it. Ticket revenue, beer money, parking costs. All of it.
The proposed Sounds stadium at Sulphur Dell — more details of which were revealed at numerous presentations Monday — will be designed to provide views of downtown over the outfield wall.
One rendering showed the stadium perfectly parallel to Bicentennial Mall, which would give a south-southeast orientation.
Baseball obsessives noted that this would be fairly unusual — and they are right.
Major League Baseball Rule 1.04 says: "It is desirable that the line from home base through the pitchers plate to second base shall run East Northeast."
This "desire" is born of a need to keep the afternoon sun out of the eyes of batters (and the customers sitting in the pricier seats behind home). It's long been accepted that this layout is why left-handed pitchers are called "southpaws," though that's disputed.
In any event, the Sulphur Dell stadium would not be aligned in the normal way.
Take a look at this graphic from Flip Flop Flyball. It's a little out-of-date (you'll notice the now-defunct Dolphin Stadium and Metrodome are included) but it still gives a great picture of how ballparks are aligned:
Sulphur Dell's alignment would be almost exactlythe same as Detroit's Comerica Park, the southernmost line on the infographic.
Rather interestingly, among the other extreme southern-aligned parks is Miller Park, home of the Sounds' parent club in Milwaukee (though Miller Park is mostly enclosed and sun is less of an issue).
The original Sulphur Dell, for what it's worth, was aligned in the more traditional way.
Five things from the week to read today:
From Astor Place Riot: "I Love You, Greer Stadium, I Really Do"
Brooklyn-based playwright (and Nashville expat) W.M. Akers — follow him on Twitter — wrote a lovely piece for The Classical about the joys of Greer Stadium. You'll have to subscribe to The Classical Magazine to read the whole thing, but Akers put the opening few paragraphs on his blog. A sample:
This leaves Tammen, who will give a speech at this year's winter meetings about "how to make the best of an old ballpark," in limbo—patching leaks and fixing seats, but holding off on major renovations in hopes that a new stadium is on its way. As it turns out, limbo is an excellent, or at least fascinating, place for a ballpark. Greer Stadium's concourses are cramped, damp, and lit by eerie fluorescents; concessions are limited to burgers, hot dogs, and—most nights—peanuts. There are no amenities but cold beer, green grass, and cheap tickets. Its problems are plain enough, but Greer Stadium is one of the finest minor league parks in the country, precisely because it is good for absolutely nothing at all but watching baseball.
From Grantland: "The Crisis"
Charles Pierce has the must-read about the NFL concussion settlement and what it means:
This is why, for all its legal merits and for all its practical benefits to many of the plaintiffs and their families, the settlement of the concussion lawsuit is a national tragedy and a moral failure. The NFL had a chance to come clean, to inform the public fully about what it knows and when it knew it, and about what its own research told it about the dangers involved in the product it promotes. The NFL could have risen above the cover-your-ass standards of American corporations pioneered by the tobacco industry, which knew exactly how it was peddling addictive poison, but which chose not to share the information until a barrage of lawsuits forced it out of them — and furthered by the people in Texas who run the fertilizer industry, who don't much care how many towns blow up as long as they can keep the inspectors outside the gates. The NFL, with its patriotic pageantry and tin-pot nationalist America-[heck]-yeah fervor, could have been better than all that. Instead, it bought itself out from under its responsibilities, and that makes it considerably worse.
From the Nashville Business Journal: "Nashville entrepreneur offers solution to NFL clear-bag policy"
This whole time it seemed obvious that the NFL's new security policy, which focuses on largeish bags, was a good way to get people to buy bags at stadium pro shops. But, as Jamie McGee reports, other people can make money, too:
Rottmann has been selling clear tote bags, lunchbags and handbags to those who work in places with bag restrictions, such as warehouses and casinos, since 2010. The product was inspired by a former job that required Rottmann to carry such a bag and she noticed a lack of available clear products. After the NFL announcement in June, she increased production. That she already had a line being manufactured has given her an edge over club merchandise outlets selling bags with team logos and she has sold to hundreds of fans so far, according to a news release.
From MC79Hockey: "Spanish finance students, airport security and Corey Crawford"
On the heels of the Chicago Blackhawks giving goalie Corey Crawford a six-year, $36 million deal — Boclair wrote about why it matters to Nashville — Tyler Dellow looks at why teams pay so much for goalies — and maybe why they shouldn't Lots of interesting math in the post, but here's the nuts:
On the basis of the analysis here, goalies don’t tend to age that well in recent history. We are reasonably confident that one good year from a goalie tells us pretty much nothing about him – the list of guys who posted a .925 or better in a season in which they played 25 or more games includes such immortals as Vesa Toskala, Byron Dafoe, Andrew Raycroft, Ron Tugnutt, Marty Turco, Jose Theodore, Chris Mason, Ryan Miller, Manny Legace, Cristobal Huet, Brian Elliott, Roman Cechmanek and Sergei Bobrovsky. We know that unexceptional goalies have exceptional years.
I suspect that teams want to believe that the great goaltending season happened because of a great goalie. I’m sure that they want to ensure that they keep a great goaltender. It just seems to me that, if we know that most goalies flame out sometime in their early thirties and we know that single seasons don’t tell us that much about a goalie, it’s a pretty hellacious risk to take. It’s a vast cost for a questionable benefit that may actually have made the Chicago Blackhawks less safe in net, in that they’ve made a big financial commitment to god knows what.
From ESPN: "A look inside SI's Chris Johnson story"
Sports Illustrated has a good article on Chris Johnson this week and while the dead-tree is on newstands and in mailboxes and dentists' offices everywhere, the mag hasn't posted online yet. Paul Kuharsky summarizes:
In a story loaded with great detail, the highlight for me is this from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains:
"People see the exterior and yeah, he’s not the most polished kid in the world, so they misjudge him. But he’s one of my favorite players. Everything is 'yes, sir' or 'no, sir.' I’ve never seen him back talk a coach or get into any kind of confrontation with a teammates. He works hard, does what you ask, shows up every Sunday. I’ve seen him at 10-0 and at 0-6, and he was the same kid.”
People get down on Johnson because of all the runs for no gain or losses last year and because they tire of his personal-goal predictions.
He's a good teammate, a good guy and a good running back, and I expect him to have a good year.
Mayor Karl Dean simultaneously managed expectations and doubled down on his desire to put a new baseball stadium in North Nashville today.
At a courthouse press conference, the mayor confirmed reports from The Tennessean that Metro is pursuing a return to "baseball's historic home in North Nashville," before taking a big pause and emphasizing a crucial conjunctive adverb.
"However," he said. "We are still early in the process."
Dean confirmed the city is exploring the acquisition of state-owned and private land on Jackson between Third and Fifth avenues north, but repeatedly said few details beyond what had already been reported would be forthcoming in the short term.
The crucial question — how the reported $80 million project, including a $40 million stadium — will be paid for went unanswered, beyond Dean's statement that "the deal would have to make sense for the taxpayers."
"We are committed to moving forward only if it makes economic sense," he said.
But, crucially, the mayor did say, at least during his time left in office, there would be a new park in Sulphur Dell or there'd be no new park at all, quashing once and for all any hopes of a stadium at the old Thermal Plant site in SoBro or at the foot of the Korean Veterans Bridge on the East Bank. The former was all-but a done deal in 2008 and the latter was briefly considered a frontrunner as late as last year.
Indeed, the Sounds — and even former Nashville Vols who actually played at the original Sulphur Dell — were on the record, in the past, as being unenthused about the prospect of moving to North Nashville.
Sticking with the theme that all of this is very early — the mayor wouldn't commit to any "hard timeline" on the project — Dean said at some point the area's neighborhood associations would be brought into the discussion, though he said "this is a project for the whole city."
That notwithstanding, At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard said the relocation of the Nashville Sounds was another positive step for North Nashville.
"Three years ago, we we were working with the mayor and talking about having economic development in North Nashville, north of Broadway. But this is a step process. First of all we did the 28th Avenue Connector, millions of dollars in investment. Look at Jefferson Street. Without the mayor, we would not have gotten that $3 million in grant money to clean up Jefferson Street," Maynard said. "The Sounds were not going to come to North Nashville had we not made the investments on Jefferson Street, Hope Gardens, with Germantown, all of those investments going on there. The Sounds were not coming. And so with all these investments and with the economic growth taking place because of the leadership of the mayor and the council, now the Sounds have agreed to come. And so you have to give credit to the mayor. But we've been working closely with him for the last four years."
One little bit of news, though not unexpected: Toby Compton, executive director of the Sports Authority, was in attendance, all but confirming the new stadium would be part of the authority's bailiwick. Greer Stadium is administered as part of the Metro Parks Department.