BOB:  Barry Bonds and Derek Jeter in trouble with the law

Rays hope to sell land they don’t own to finance new stadium

The Tampa Bay Rays made the news earlier this month when they not only unveiled a new logo and uniforms, but they made public their plans for a new waterfront ballpark in St. Petersburg. While the Rays said they’d chip in with $150 million of their own money, the hope was to make up most of the difference when the land is sold underneath the Rays’ current home, Tropicana Field.

There’s just one problem: the Rays don’t own the land or the stadium. The land is owned by Pinellas County, and while the team can say that the taxpayers won’t have to pay for a new stadium directly, there is an opportunity cost of selling the stadium and the land and using that money to pay for a new stadium as opposed to plowing the money back into the county. Regardless, in order for a new ballpark to become a reality, the Rays would need to have their current lease revised because it doesn’t expire until 2027.

And that doesn’t even take into account the $60 million the team hopes to get from the state. The Florida Marlins have tried to get just that amount the past few years without success; how the Rays think they’ll get it with the Marlins first in line is anyone’s guess.

Steroids and Barry Bonds

This story didn’t get much coverage last week so in case you missed it, Barry Bonds was indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. The issue is whether Bonds lied about the fact that he knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.

It appears that an IRS agent is the guy who finally got the goods on Bonds. For an interesting look on how the evidence was compiled and the process behind it, I highly recommend you check out this New York Times article by Duff Wilson and Michael S. Schmidt.

This comes just weeks before the expected release of the report by the Mitchell investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, so steroids look to be front and center this winter. It also looks like Congress will get back into things; an Illinois congressman has already said there will be a new set of hearings soon.

Scott Boras takes it on the chin

Sports agent Scott Boras had not one, but two setbacks in the past week, and while we can hardly say it’ll be the end of free market baseball, this certainly made for some good stories. The first setback was when Alex Rodriguez went around Scott Boras to reopen negotiations with the New York Yankees. In what appears to be a complete misjudgment of the current market, Boras set the bar too high, and at the behest of financier Warren Buffet, Rodriguez contacted the Yankees directly and eventually worked out a deal well below the 10-year, $350 million that was initially thrown out there.

The second setback was when Kenny Rogers ended his relationship with Boras. While neither Rogers nor Boras has elaborated on the end of the professional relationship, there’s been speculation that a push in the direction of the Rangers might have prompted the move. Rogers appeared set to come back to Detroit, but at the last minute, he decided to test the market. Now it looks like he’s backtracked a bit, without Boras, to re-sign with the Tigers.

In a way, this is a good thing because you have a couple of players who appear willing to give their teams a hometown discount. It’ll be interesting to see whether this trend continues or not and to what extent, but for now it’s a small breath of fresh air.

Derek Jeter vs. the State of New York

From 2001 through 2003, Derek Jeter filed non-resident tax returns in the state of New York saying he was actually a Florida resident. Now New York is coming back at him saying he’s a New York resident. The exact dollar amount that the state is coming after him for hasn’t been disclosed but it’s in the millions.

I’m a CPA and it looks like Jeter was the recipient of what was hopefully some solid tax planning. Florida doesn’t have a personal income tax, so if Jeter did get that tax planning and he followed the rules his advisors gave him, he should be okay. Regardless, New York is pointing at his Trump World Tower apartment that he purchased in 2001 as the point he became a New York resident.

As someone with a tax background, this should be an interesting case to follow. I’ve had indirect dealings with the tax returns of a couple of NHL players and I remember them being quite complex considering the multi-state issues. A player would have to file a tax return in every state that he “worked” and keeping track of the number of days in each state can be just as much an art as it can be science.

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