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How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers
October 14, 2013 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams. (SL Atlantic)
posted by beisny (79 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love this comment: "At least in Rome, they got bread AND circuses. We just get the circus."
posted by Slothrup at 9:51 AM on October 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


Whenever someone starts talking about sports, I feel the way most people would when some nerd starts talking about Dungeons and Dragons or starts speaking Elvish or something. My takeaway from this: nerds need to unite to get the government to support our idiotic hobbies, too!
posted by brenton at 9:56 AM on October 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yes please. Instead of starving the poor, can we stop shovelling money at the rich?
posted by nevercalm at 9:56 AM on October 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


The vendors outside The Linc sell great cheap soft pretzels. I consider that the bread.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:01 AM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


"At the time of the agreement, 30-year Treasury bonds were selling for 3 percent, meaning the Santa Clara contract values the NFL as a better risk than the United States government."

Hah hah! Doesn't seem like such a bad bet now, does it? I welcome our new NFL overlords.
posted by frontmn23 at 10:04 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


My takeaway from this: nerds need to unite to get the government to support our idiotic hobbies, too!

You do know this whole Internet thing was a government project to begin with, I assume? And think of all the idiocy that enables!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:05 AM on October 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Among the many and spurious claims that these stadiums will benefit the city they always say it'll "revitalize" whereever it's going in. But usually they end up as urban deserts; just onramps and parking and crappy hotels that are about as fun to be in as a dentist's waiting room. There's no bustle or activity and nothing to attract anyone but a skateboarder -- assuming they're allowed which they typically aren't.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:15 AM on October 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Hey, sweet. If I own part of the Green Bay Packers, does this make me a feudal lord? I've always wanted my very own vassals and serfs.
posted by slkinsey at 10:16 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


In fairness, I think that Heinz Field/PNC Park have played a role in the re-vitalization of Pittsburgh's North Shore. Whether that was worth the public funding is another issue.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:21 AM on October 14, 2013


slkinsey: "Hey, sweet. If I own part of the Green Bay Packers, does this make me a feudal lord? I've always wanted my very own vassals and serfs."

The serfs belong to the land, not to the lord. Jeez.
posted by Mister_A at 10:22 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought Green Bay was an autonomous collective.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:24 AM on October 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hrm, maybe they can bulldoze SunLife stadium and turn it back into swampland.
posted by tilde at 10:24 AM on October 14, 2013


Stadium subsidies are odious for all sports, but in the case of football, the idea that any politician can justify the "economic benefit" of spending a billion taxpayer dollars on a stadium that is filled TEN DAYS PER YEAR, maybe 20 when you throw in playoffs and concerts, with a straight face is really beyond the pale.

But really when the city fathers of bankrupt Detroit can somehow find a way to give Mike Illitch, Dominoes pizza billionaire, $285 Million in public subsidies for a new arena for the Red Wings, you realize you're through the looking glass.
posted by dry white toast at 10:25 AM on October 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


Whenever someone starts talking about sports, I feel the way most people would when some nerd starts talking about Dungeons and Dragons or starts speaking Elvish or something. My takeaway from this: nerds need to unite to get the government to support our idiotic hobbies, too!

Man, the amount of teeth pulling that went in to getting a hotel tax to pay for San Diego's convention center expansion (required to keep Comic Con) was impressive. Even then the Chargers whined about not getting a football stadium in the deal.
posted by zabuni at 10:25 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've always held that the correct response to the team owners' demands for concessions from municipalities is 'OK, have fun in Paducah ya morons!'
posted by Mister_A at 10:29 AM on October 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm a sports fan who very much agrees with this.

I have a colleague who once worked on the public financing of Miller Park in Milwaukee. He told me that after the public committed to raising hundreds of millions dollars of bonds to fund the stadium, the value of the Brewers franchise increased by hundreds of millions of dollars. Maybe it wasn't a 1:1 ratio, but it's still pretty sick. The public takes all the risk and the owners reap all the rewards.

Hmm, what else does this remind me of?
posted by MoonOrb at 10:31 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Drinky Die: I thought Green Bay was an autonomous collective.

"King of the 'oo?"
"The Packers."
"Who are the Packers?"
"We all are. We are all Packers. And Mark Murphy is our King."
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:34 AM on October 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Mike Illitch, Dominoes pizza billionaire

Please, Little Caesars.
posted by dudemanlives at 10:36 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The serfs belong to the land, not to the lord. Jeez.

And who does the land belong to? And what happens when "the land" would rather own sheep?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:44 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But really when the city fathers of bankrupt Detroit can somehow find a way to give Mike Illitch, Dominoes pizza billionaire, $285 Million in public subsidies for a new arena for the Red Wings, you realize you're through the looking glass.

The really distressing thing about stuff like this is what was Illitch going to do if they didn't give him money? Move his iconic team to someplace like Seattle or Kansas City where they will have no fanbase or tradition of professional hockey and will be seen as betrayers? Good luck making more money that way. I guess the problem is partly that an owner can shop around until he finds some municipal government somewhere that's dumb/easily plied enough to give them whatever they want, and once you get into the weeds of suburban governments the level of sophistication of the government officials tends to drop (see the lunacy that was the Phoenix Coyotes extortion of Glendale for more evidence of this).

More broadly, between the NFL's disgusting greed and hubris and the concussions issue, it's getting harder every year to really care about football. The Bears have given me some great times and I'll probably always keep up with them a bit, but my enthusiasm is slowly being drained away every time I see Goodell's charmlessly smug face reassuring America that there are definitely no problems with the NFL, at least until the next labor dispute when the NFL will suddenly be run by paupers.
posted by Copronymus at 10:45 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I predict the owners will be the bad guys right up until the players--largely undereducated and heavily minority that have a career length of ~3 years on average--want a few more crumbs from the table, then the owners will be noble heroes boldly keeping those greedy millionaires from ruining the sport.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:54 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


According to the article, Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)6 grants not-for-profit status to “business leagues, chambers of commerce, real-estate boards, boards of trade, or professional football leagues.”

The lobbyist who got that passed is worth his weight in gold. Gold paid out of our taxes.
posted by Triplanetary at 10:54 AM on October 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


I predict the owners will be the bad guys right up until the players--largely undereducated and heavily minority that have a career length of ~3 years on average--want a few more crumbs from the table, then the owners will be noble heroes boldly keeping those greedy millionaires from ruining the sport.

I listen to a fair amount of sports-talk radio on my commute, and during the last labor dispute, the public was absolutely fed up with the owners. Thanks to the 24-hour sports news cycle, everyone is well aware of who's making money off of whom.
posted by Etrigan at 10:59 AM on October 14, 2013


The NPR show Planet Money did an excellent episode on Is Hosting The Super Bowl Worth It?
posted by Triplanetary at 11:00 AM on October 14, 2013


Copronymus they did it to the Browns. I feel like that was the litmus test of what they can get away with.
posted by Carillon at 11:02 AM on October 14, 2013


Metafilter: Think of all the idiocy that enables!
posted by Rangeboy at 11:10 AM on October 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is The Super Bowl Hosing Worth It?

Not unless it helps you get to host the Olympics!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:11 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Triplanetary: The NPR show Planet Money did an excellent episode on Is Hosting The Super Bowl Worth It?

And as could be expected, Betteridge's law of headlines provides you the answer without reading the synopsis: no.

Big sports events, even below the level of a Super Bowl, have costs that no one seems to line up besides those benefits. Hey, great, more people come to your sporting complex area during a major sporting event! But are the traffic routes changed for this event? Are extra police called in to patrol and streamline the parking? Is there a major effort to clean up the extra debris left in the wake of the event? How many people stay home instead of shopping in the vicinity of the arena, as they would on another weekend?

But new stadiums look shiny, and having a stadium in town means fancy box seats and such, which companies use to ensure deals are made and whatnot. So if you don't have a local major sporting event stadium, you might noght get a big company to come/franchise in town. I wonder if anyone has really looked into all the tiered costs and benefits of stadiums, like those listed above, and beyond? It would be fascinating to chart all the financial eddies that swirl around these occasionally used facilities.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:11 AM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


One that really got me was when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl a couple years ago. There was a call for Indiana crocheters and knitters to produce handmade scarves (in specific colors, not just whatever you had already) for the volunteers who would be staffing the stadium for the game.

I'm all for pretty much any excuse, no matter how ridiculous, to crochet, but everything about that seemed super sketchy to me, including the excuse that the volunteers were "ambassadors for the city" or something like that. They can't pay the volunteers? They can't just buy a bunch of scarves to distribute? They can't even donate the yarn? There's some kind of actual social good associated with my donating hours of work to keep necks warm at a damn football game?
posted by asperity at 11:12 AM on October 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


This quote best sums up what I think of the NFL's transparency:

During the lobbying battle, Joe Browne, then the league’s vice president for public affairs, told The New York Times, “I finally get to the point where I’m making 150 grand, and they want to put my name and address on the [disclosure] form so the lawyer next door who makes a million dollars a year can laugh at me.” Browne added that $150,000 does not buy in the New York area what it would in “Dubuque, Iowa.” The waiver was denied. Left no option, the NFL revealed that at the time, Browne made about $2 million annually.
posted by antonymous at 11:14 AM on October 14, 2013 [33 favorites]


I was just about to quote that, antonymous. You can't make this stuff up. Liars and thieves everywhere.

The more I learn, the more I become convinced that the world is basically just run by the rich on the Pirates of the Caribbean Principle.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:18 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The economic thought process involved is always "decide on emotions (sports yay!) then try to justify with appeals to economic impact."

Without trying to pit one against the other per se, it would be interesting to interview the same man in the street on a million here and there for an orchestra then ask about a billion here and there for an NFL franchise. Then you'd see how consistently that thought process works.

Whatever you think of public funding for the arts, it's staggering to think that a #1 or #2 rated sport in terms of popularity needs public funding to make it happen. Seems like the supply/demand curve ought to work in its favor somehow...
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:19 AM on October 14, 2013


Copronymus they did it to the Browns. I feel like that was the litmus test of what they can get away with.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts, to name a few, would tell you that this sort of thing has been going on a lot longer than the Browns defection to Baltimore.
posted by slkinsey at 11:19 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


My takeaway from this: nerds need to unite to get the government to support our idiotic hobbies, too!

The problem with nerds is they're too used to getting 13 gold or a nice Elven Mace of Whacking for several hours' work. They need to think bigger.
posted by sneebler at 11:22 AM on October 14, 2013


And who does the land belong to?

Technically, the king. Or possibly several kings. It's pretty complicated, feudalism.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:25 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't forget to factor in the scores of public universities that serve as farm teams for the NFL.
posted by 3.2.3 at 11:27 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whenever this subject comes up, I have to remember that my hometown is different from most other cities. The relationship between the Superdome and the city of New Orleans — whose main industry is tourism — is a positive one.

From its initial construction, all the way through its multiple renovations, the state of Louisiana has paid most of the bill, but then the Superdome was never home to just the Saints. It hosts a couple of major bowl games ever year, a Final Four every 6–8 years, a bunch of conventions and expos and high school football games. The Rolling Stones sold out the place, eighty-thousand plus tickets, in the early eighties. It's a busy dome for most of the year.

And that matters for a city that thrives when people are staying at its hotels and drinking its beer and eating its food. If other cities are truly building stadiums that are used only a couple dozen days out of the year, then perhaps that's also worth looking into. In New Orleans, you won't find many people arguing about whether the Superdome was a good investment.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:28 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Lambeau Field is the oldest professional football stadium in continuous use. All of its expansions and renovations have not only avoided building a new stadium but kept the frozen tundra intact. Not incidentally, the Packers are the only American major-league sports franchise to release its financial balance sheet every year; surplus revenues go to the Packers Foundation, which supports a variety of good causes. The team (not the taxpayers) paid for/is paying for:
  • all of the ongoing 2013-2015 $140 million renovation to the Atrium;
  • all of the 2011-2013 $145 million expansion of the south end zone;
  • a chunk (maybe 10 percent) of the 2001-2003 $295 million renovation/expansion of the stadium itself.
While both the county and the state contributed to the 2001-2003 endeavor, much of this money came from directly from fans, either through the sale of additional shares (then $200 each but most recently at sold for $250 each) or via a seat tax.

As Vince Lombardi said, "Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.”
posted by carmicha at 11:29 AM on October 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Copronymus they did it to the Browns.

This is a very funny sentence.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:30 AM on October 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Don't forget to factor in the scores of public universities that serve as farm teams for the NFL

I have more sympathy for the university teams, which at least do help to create a sense of community. I think it's unlikely that the University of Alabama is going to pick up and move to Georgia if its demands aren't met.
posted by tyllwin at 11:31 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe the band Anthrax summed it up best when they sang: "NFL! Efilnikufesin! NFL!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:35 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You might think so, tyllwin, but you'd be...

INCORRECT!
posted by Mister_A at 11:37 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is why I don't feel guilty at all about being a curling fan.

No shame or denial, and brooms.
posted by sonascope at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sorta like Quidditch, then. Except for the shame and denial part.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:39 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not incidentally, the Packers are the only American major-league sports franchise to release its financial balance sheet every year;

The Packers are a publicly held corporation and are required to do so.

Don't get me wrong. Utter than utterly hating them and all they stand for* what Green Bay has done is brilliant and would be emulated across the league, except, of course, the league has made it illegal for a team to be held by a public corporation. They have something really brilliant going, and they've made damn sure they can keep it, and I'm glad they've done so.

*As a native born Chicagoan, my first word was "mommy", my second was "daddy" and my third through fifth were "fuck the packers".
posted by eriko at 11:42 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Copronymus they did it to the Browns. I feel like that was the litmus test of what they can get away with.

Yeah, I'm probably being a bit naive, although the reaction from the Browns thing was so bad that Cleveland got a team back almost right away and the NFL basically decided to pretend that never happened. Enough of that sort of thing could actually start to hurt profits, and I'm guessing that would be fundamentally unacceptable to the NFL.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts, to name a few, would tell you that this sort of thing has been going on a lot longer than the Browns defection to Baltimore.

The situation of the New York Giants in 1958 or the Dallas Texans in 1962 are massively different than the one iconic sports teams are in right now. Is there any amount of money that would convince the Yankees to move to Oklahoma City or whatever the best spot that's not already covered by an MLB team would be? (Jacksonville? Portland? Charlotte?) There are absolutely teams that can and will probably move in the next 10 years, but it's not going to be the Lakers and it's not going to be the Detroit Red Wings. It's probably still dumb to spend money to convince the Tampa Bay Rays/Jacksonville Jaguars/Charlotte Bobcats to stick around, but teams like the Yankees/Cowboys/Celtics should be paying the city for the right to stick around instead of getting a payoff for magnanimously not shooting themselves in the foot.
posted by Copronymus at 11:42 AM on October 14, 2013


As Vince Lombardi said, "Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.”

Sounds like a commie to me, Dan.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:45 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if it makes sense to talk about the Walmartization of sports, when sports did it first? Support your local farm team! (Though of course that's a little more appropriate to baseball.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:45 AM on October 14, 2013


"At least in Rome, they got bread AND circuses. We just get the circus."

And afaik, they did not pay for the circus, it was Oh So Generously offered by whoever was in charge to appease the public. But it was free of charge, nonetheless.
posted by elpapacito at 11:53 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am always glad to see someone reminding the American people how often we are "shoveling money to the rich."
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:57 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Chargers had the most ludicrous sweetheart stadium deal in history--for ten years, the San Diego City Council paid for tickets which weren't purchased by game time to the tune of over $25 million dollars--and to this day make fairly explicit threats about moving to Los Angeles if they don't get a new stadium.

I do think they need a new stadium (Qualcomm is ugly, hulking, and way too big for the fan base they have), but I damn well expect them to pay for it themselves. No doubt they disagree.

Instead, the latest drama is that the game tonight was almost blacked out locally--first Monday Night Football game in years to almost suffer that indignity--because fans didn't cough up to attend the game; ultimately, ESPN and others did.
posted by librarylis at 12:01 PM on October 14, 2013


Copronymus they did it to the Browns.

This is a very funny sentence.


Copronysterical!
posted by The Tensor at 12:06 PM on October 14, 2013


They'll never let a team move to LA, it's more lucrative for the NFL to have it around as a bargaining chip for owners who need new stadiums.
posted by zempf at 12:15 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Previously (I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet, but it provides useful analysis)
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 12:21 PM on October 14, 2013


I'm in a region where shuffling teams is a thing right now. This having been a thing in recent history, we've got some perspective. If you're a Big City, losing your iconic sports franchise is no big deal. There'd be a lot of bummed Yankee fans if they left NYC but in the morning New Yorkers wouldn't be left feeling that somehow they'd slid down into cultural obscurity. Smaller towns, its kind of a deal. Sacramento isn't much of a cultural touchstone but dangit, 80 times a year we're on someone else's radar to the count of tens of thousands and thats not nothing. Whether we should be on the hook for housing a bunch of richies, I dunno, but I understand the root.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:37 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Minneapolitans have just been told that 975million dollars was maybe not enough to build a stadium. It would, for instance, not have escalators from the top level to the main level at only 975million.

$975,000,000.
posted by lstanley at 1:01 PM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Minneapolitans have just been told that 975million dollars was maybe not enough to build a stadium. It would, for instance, not have escalators from the top level to the main level at only 975million.

$975,000,000.


Don't worry, I'm sure the bountiful revenue from e-pulltabs will cover everything.

zing!
posted by COBRA! at 1:09 PM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


These articles come out with depressing regularity, but nothing seems to change. Politicians fear being blamed for the loss of a beloved team so they grumble some but eventually pay up.
posted by Area Man at 1:25 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Move his iconic team to someplace like Seattle or Kansas City where they will have no fanbase or tradition of professional hockey and will be seen as betrayers?

Three words: Minnesota North Stars
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:12 PM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whenever I get into a discussion about the 1% -- who they are, what they are like, how blind we are to their machinations -- I use the NFL as an example. Between this thread, the one on concussions and the one on the Washington franchise's name I challenge anyone to come up with an example of a group of individuals (the owners and commissioner) more nefarious, save perhaps the US senate, and yet, like the Senate, we tend to like our own (home city owner/senator) and blame the evil on everyone else's.
I actually went to a game yesterday. It's amazing how having a super bowl contender has permeated the psyche of our city (seattle) down to its core. Macklemore was there, all of the local pioneer square businesses were reaping the benefits of gameday, the grocery store in my neighborhood was filled with jersey wearin' fans.
But more than once i thought, as someone mentioned above -- Bread and Circuses, man, Bread and Circuses.
No lie the person sitting next to me on the train (an awesome way to get to the city too bad there is only service on weekends if there is a game!) spent the entire trip missing the connection between the hopelessness of graduating without prospects for a job good enough to repay student loans and life for a family of 5 and the fact that said family of 5 (3 young kids) were going to the game, were decked out head to toe in NFL store gear, were checking scores on Iphone and were prepared to take a cab home after the game if they were too drunk to make the train.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:17 PM on October 14, 2013


AND at 975 million, the Vikings stadium roof will not be retractable. WTF?

I'm giving myself a break from football. I'm no fair weather fan, but when my franchise ceases wanting to give a damn like the Vikings have, I find another use for my three hours on a Sunday. The safety issue and fleecing taxpayers does sicken me, it makes me conflicted on how much pleasure I take in this game. It even clouds watching my FCS alma mater and they're a long way from being an NFL farm team. I know at some point, maybe a season or two down the road, I'll find myself switching the pro games back on. I've quit my habit before and then climbed back off the wagon again. But cold turkey is feeling a whole lot better this time, thanks to pigs like Goodell and Zygi.
posted by Ber at 3:02 PM on October 14, 2013


The Vikings stadium deal is an unqualified disaster, financially and politically. The machinations that went into ensuring taxpayer money will finance 58+% of the $1B initial price tag of the stadium, while simultaneously ensuring that citizens would not be able to democratically decide (via referendum, as per the Minneapolis City Charter) whether or not they want that stadium, have been mind-bending. It is absolutely a failure of democracy. America's sport, indeed.
posted by MetalFingerz at 3:25 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


From Wikipedia:
The project is projected to have a $975 million price tag, with the Vikings covering $477 million, the state covering $348 million, and $150 million covered by a hospitality tax in Minneapolis. The city of Minneapolis must pay a total of $678 million over the thirty year life of the deal, including interest, operations and construction costs.
Ho. Lee. Fuck.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:30 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


You would think that people would vote against financing stadiums, since they're paying for it, but it's always a matter of "civic pride". When I lived in Houston, it was my rule to vote against public funding for any professional sports stadium. Never did a lick of good, but at least I protested against the tax fleecing.

Just remember when your big city municipal government is having a pension contribution shortfall that they had to pay for the football stadium instead.
posted by immlass at 3:53 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The project is projected to have a $975 million price tag, with the Vikings covering $477 million, the state covering $348 million, and $150 million covered by a hospitality tax in Minneapolis.

It's even worse than it appears here, because the Vikings' share is almost completely covered by a combo of seat license sales to fans and grants from the NFL. The state's portion crosses over into ridiculous pretty fast, too, because the whole deal is based on imaginary revenue from new forms of bar gambling. With several months' worth of data, that revenue just isn't. fucking. there.

It doesn't take much to get me thinking that Mark Dayton ought to be tarred, feathered, and carried out of town on a rail for pushing this bullshit through.
posted by COBRA! at 4:05 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole sports issue pisses me off majorly. City and country budgets can't be balanced, yet we allow the rich to fund their little games. What a crock.

The argument is that sports is a great equalizer, and everybody loves sports. Once again, it's a matter of privilege. If you can afford season tickets, you're doing pretty damn good. Once or two games? You're doing OK. You have ESPN? You're comfortable.


...the Superdome was never home to just the Saints.

And that's as it damn well should be. I don't care if you have yard sales in it, stadiums aren't some kind of shrines--they should be self-subsidizing and open to all sorts of public events.


In fairness, I think that Heinz Field/PNC Park have played a role in the re-vitalization of Pittsburgh's North Shore. Whether that was worth the public funding is another issue.

I'm sure the funding could have been used to re-vitalize the North Shore in a way that benefited more people than just owners and sports goers.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:06 PM on October 14, 2013


You would think that people would vote against financing stadiums, since they're paying for it, but it's always a matter of "civic pride".

In Minneapolis, we didn't get to (directly) vote on the new stadium deal.
posted by MetalFingerz at 5:19 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


They'll never let a team move to LA, it's more lucrative for the NFL to have it around as a bargaining chip for owners who need new stadiums.

Our city charter makes it almost impossible for any public money to go towards a pro sports stadium, so the owners aren't exactly beating down the door to bring a team here since they'd have to pay for everything themselves.
posted by sideshow at 5:22 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gregg Easterbrook is well worth paying attention to outside of this article. He has a weekly column Tuesday Morning Quarterback that always pushes difficult angles, and just released a book The King of Sports about different up and downsides of football.

There are issues with stadium funding, and I'm glad Easterbrook is talking about them. Opposition to public funding for stadiums is pretty broad but politicians don't want to be the ones who "lost" a sports team. How many times did they threaten to vote on the thing in Minnesota? Yeah.

As for teams moving to LA - in theory it's possible for San Diego to lose the Chargers after this year (their lease at Qualcomm expires and they want a ton of public money) and there is a temporary venue as the Rose Bowl will be able to host a team for several years during stadium construction. If not, the Rams could leave St Louis in 2015 if they don't get stadium upgrades. The real issue is keeping a team out of London, which would be ridiculous.
posted by graymouser at 5:35 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


They could always finance the new stadium/expansion by selling the seats as condominiums or time shares, as some colleges have done. See this WSJ article for examples.
posted by carmicha at 5:44 PM on October 14, 2013


In Minneapolis, I don't understand why we got a state of the art, nice looking college stadium a couple years ago for a relatively modest $250m that most people like. Then they're trying to build a facility with the exact same function not even 2 miles away, and charge 4 times the price?

Even if they sell out every game for 30 years, the city will still be subsidizing hundreds of dollars per ticket.

Part of the reason for this catastrophe is that the metro area has no single dominant local government, instead it's split into dozens of cities and 9 counties. Everyone in Minneapolis was afraid that if we didn't get it, a suburb would. I think more unified metro areas with one big municipality and one big county can negotiate much better.
posted by miyabo at 6:46 PM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't forget to factor in the scores of public universities that serve as farm teams for the NFL.

Indeed. I recently wrote a letter to my college's Chancellor stating that maybe making millions of dollars from kids who suffer life altering concussions wasn't such a great thing. He didn't write back.
posted by mrhappy at 7:21 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If not, the Rams could leave St Louis in 2015 if they don't get stadium upgrades.

The problem here is the Rams are dealing cards they don't really have. The Rams aren't that popular -- St. Louis is the Cardinals and I think they have a hockey team*, and the city got royally fucked over building the whateverthefuckitscallednow dome the first time. And, on top of all of that, when the best start you've had in a decade is 3-3....

Back when it was the Greatest Show On Turf, that was one thing, but now, the city seems to be "I dearly hope the door hits you on the ass on the way out." The county might be annoyed, but the county doesn't get a vote, unless the county wants to pay for their own dome. Which they might. The county is dumb sometimes.

As for teams moving to LA

Somewhere upthread, someone proved themselves more cynical than I by stating the NFL would never allow it because it was the perfect lever to force small cities to build massive domes.

I wish that I could come up with *some* argument against that, but I can't.

(looks upthread, finds that zempf was the cynical bastard. I tip my hat and cast my wary eye upon you, sir.)

The real issue is keeping a team out of London, which would be ridiculous.

Oh, I think this would be "wonderful" in so many ways.

1) Worst. Road games. EVAR!!!1!Eleventy!!

2) You thought Thursday Night Football sucked now? Wait until the London Handeggs** game. I really hope it's a home game for the Handeggs.

3) Hey, think of the Frequent Flyer Miles!

4) Hey, think of the pitch at Wembley. There will be an actual reason for it to be in cruddy shape!

5) Put them in the East, so All Of London may experience the joy of a home and away with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

6) Suddenly QPR and Cricket start looking good again, huh?

7) Footie chants at Football Games. Hell, there would be songs *after the ref calls penalties*. 'If you keep holding him, why not kiss him....' EPIC.

*GO BLUES! Oshie Oshie Oshie! Oi! Oi! OI!

Yes, I know, but you know it. It's the Cardinals. The Rams and Blues are a distant second, third is the Billkens when they make the big dance, and that's it. Hell, right now, the Rams could move and nobody in St. Louis would even know if they put the games on the Jumbotron in the whateverthefucktitscallednow dome.

**Of course, since those blokes in the different colored jerseys keep grabbing the ball, clearly the game they play over there is handspheroid.

Also, I would *so* buy a London Handeggs Jersey. And, if there was a god, there would be a #00 on the team, so I could have handeggs on my Handeggs Jersey. It Would Be Epic.
posted by eriko at 6:16 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can understand, psychologically, why some cities fall for the stadium swindle. I'm not saying I agree with it - I don't - but I can see it. You're Detroit/Pittsburgh/Cleveland/wherever, you're afraid the team will move to some Sun Belt boomtown and you'll be left with "Jesus, all the industry is gone and the economy is shit and now we have no team! We're doomed!" You're really not doomed, you can still turn it around (and sports have basically nothing to do with that), but I can understand the psychology.

What I do not understand is why big, thriving cities fall for it. NYC gave tons of subsidies to the Mets and Yankees for new stadiums. Why? I'm a Mets fan. If I were mayor of New York, and Fred Wilpon showed up in my office asking for money to build a new stadium (and I could manage to rein in the urge to punch his lights out, because God do I hate that guy) I'd laugh in his face. "Where are you gonna go? San Antonio? Charlotte? OK, good luck with that." They want to move to Long Island? Hey, that's fine - the psychic impact would be minimal, and there's absolutely no economic argument for giving public money to a sports team, ever. I just don't understand it.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:02 AM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's even worse than it appears here, because the Vikings' share is almost completely covered by a combo of seat license sales to fans and grants from the NFL. The state's portion crosses over into ridiculous pretty fast, too, because the whole deal is based on imaginary revenue from new forms of bar gambling. With several months' worth of data, that revenue just isn't. fucking. there.

I'm hoping that the Viking's pitiful on-field product this year will give their season ticket holders pause over shelling out for the PSLs, and force the Wilfs to cough up their own cash.

It's not much, but it's more than the say I got as a voter.
posted by strange chain at 9:29 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you at least circulate petitions for an initiative to force them to name it Corporate Welfare Stadium?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:49 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Correction: There are scores of public universities that serve as farm teams for the NFL without paying a dime to the players who put their bodies and encephalons on the line on gameday. Say what you will about Minor League Baseball, but at least they dole out some bread.
posted by samuelcramer at 3:13 PM on October 19, 2013


Can somebody local explain the Alamodome to me? It seems on the surface like the ultimate expression of stadium insanity. The price tag is nothing compared to the spending that goes on now, but they built a dome largely in part to attract an NFL team that never came.

The Alamodome is a domed 65,000 seat, multi-purpose facility used as a football, basketball stadium and convention center. It's located on the southeastern fringe of Downtown San Antonio, Texas, USA. The facility opened on May 15, 1993, having been constructed at a cost of $186 million.

The multi-purpose facility was intended to increase the city's convention traffic and attract a professional football franchise. It also placated the San Antonio Spurs' demands for a larger arena. The Spurs played in the Alamodome for a decade, then became disenchanted with the facility and convinced Bexar County to construct a new arena for them, now called the AT&T Center.


I google around for stories about it and find some unexpectedly positive stuff: The Alamodome, Now 20, Made San Antonio a Bigger, Better City
posted by Drinky Die at 3:43 PM on October 19, 2013


The headlines in other cities should read "Remember the Alamodome!"
posted by miyabo at 8:41 AM on October 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


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