Dear public can ya spare a dime for a new arena?
Armond Budish is not a household name outside of the Cleveland area but the local county executive probably said more in a couple sentences about the business of sports than politicians and sports owners want to reveal. In an interview with a local Cleveland newspaper Budish let a secret out. Sports stadiums and arenas are not forever and need to be replaced rather quickly after opening. Budish was talking about the Cleveland arena that opened in 1994.
“It is one of the oldest arenas in the league, which is hard for some of us to believe because it seems like it was just built. But the useful life of arenas is not considered to be all that long.” Budish must have studied the useful lifespans of arenas in other NBA cities. The Charlotte Coliseum was deemed useless by Hornets owner George Shinn after just 14 seasons but Shinn who moved his team to New Orleans in 2002, didn’t set a record in fleeing a new building. That belongs to the Miami Heat franchise. The team fled the Miami Arena for a new building just 11 years after the arena opened. Miami built a new arena and Sunrise, Florida built an arena for the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers. In Orlando, the owners of the NBA’s Magic knew within five years that the Orlando Arena wasn’t good enough and started a long campaign to get a new building. The Magic ownership got a new building eventually. The NBA has already put out the message that the present arena in Cleveland needs major upgrades to be considered a venue for an All Star Game. A Cleveland arena contemporary, the building in Phoenix is getting old and area politicians are trying to put together a new arena plan for the local NBA and NHL teams. Sports owners must never have been in the Roman Coliseum which is still around after two centuries.
Republished with permission Evan Weiner for the Politics of Sports Business.