(Photo Courtesy of USA Today)
Yesterday it was announced that the NFL was allowing the San Diego Chargers to relocate to Los Angeles. Today we get this statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
For more than a decade, the San Diego Chargers have worked diligently toward finding a local stadium solution, which all sides agreed was required. These efforts took on added intensity in the last two years. A year ago, NFL owners granted the Chargers an option to move to Los Angeles. Rather than immediately exercising that option, the team spent the past year continuing to work on finding a stadium solution in San Diego.
The Chargers worked this past year tirelessly with local officials and community leaders on a ballot initiative that fell short on election day. That work – and the years of effort that preceded it – reflects our strongly held belief we always should do everything we can to keep a franchise in its community. That’s why we have a deliberate and thoughtful process for making these decisions.
Relocation is painful for teams and communities. It is especially painful for fans, and the fans in San Diego have given the Chargers strong and loyal support for more than 50 years, which makes it even more disappointing that we could not solve the stadium issue. As difficult as the news is for Charger fans, I know Dean Spanos and his family did everything they could to try to find a viable solution in San Diego.
The NFL is great at fleecing cities out of taxpayer money. Right now It’s about a billion dollars a year, calculated in public subsidies to NFL owners and this is a group that consists primarily of billionaires and yet receiving significant public subsidies every year. But with the NFL making ungodly profits, is it right for cities to spend public money on these type of projects? The simple answer is NO, especially when over half of NFL team owners are ranked on the Forbes billionaire list.
Nowhere has this more apparent than in Los Angeles, where the league spent nearly twenty years trying to bring a team back to the city. Though many well-known economists have demonstrated that sports stadiums don’t increase the local economy, it hasn’t stopped financially strapped cities like L.A. from approving a $1.2 billion dollar stadium deal that is being financed with an incredible $350 million in taxpayer-backed bonds. Now, remember the City of Los Angeles is already in debt, but yet they have voted for more debt for a team owned by a billionaire and a team that will play only ten home games. Why should taxpayers have to flip the bill for these stadiums? The Owners of the team can obviously afford the Stadiums financially, so why do cities continue to fall for the extortion?
Obtaining money through a threat is the real definition of extortion, and it’s a universal practice when it comes to building new sweetheart stadiums for American sports teams. While Major League Baseball and all the other main sports have used public money without remorse, the NFL’s standing as America’s preeminent sport has given it unparalleled leverage to extort cities in stadium negotiations.
That status, paired with the league’s dangling the past twenty years of the Los Angeles relocation carrot in front of teams, has opened the coffers of plenty of the league’s home markets for more than two decades.
Over the last two decades, the American public has spent more than a whopping $7 billion dollars to build or renovate NFL stadiums, taking on a staggering 46 percent of the total costs of those projects. Remember this is for teams that play ten home games and are owned by Billionaires.
Minnesota’s replacement for the outdated Metrodome, the U.S. Bank Stadium, is costing the public just shy of $500 million. The state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis put this deal together with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who it just so happens in 2013 was ordered by a New Jersey judge to pay $84 million for “organized-crime-type activities” — namely racketeering and fraud. Now, why is this owner even allowed in the league, he has been connected to organized crime?
Maybe the worst stadium deal of all is in the city of Cincinnati who spent an incredible $424 million for the $449 million dollar Paul Brown Stadium in 2000, which was a cost record that stood for eight long years. It doesn’t stop there the deal gets even sweeter for the Bengals. The team’s new lease also had a clause written in it that if 14 other NFL teams add a new stadium feature — like a massive scoreboard — then Hamilton County where the Stadium is located must buy the Bengals that item with the cost being absorbed by taxpayers. That lease is all-encompassing too, no matter what it is Cincinnati has to pay for it. Owner Mike Brown may not be able to put a winner on the field, but he just may be the best at fleecing an entire community.
The Stadium deal that beat the Bengals deal was in Indianapolis where the city had to pay $619 million compared to the Colts 100 million. At the time of the deal, the Colts were worth over 1 Billion dollars.
Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, built the monstrous AT&T Stadium for $1 Billion dollars, $444 million was publicly financed. My question is why could he have not built the stadium for $600 million and left the city alone. Better yet why didn’t city officials tell Jones to take his $600 million and create it himself?
Why would the NFL care about fans? They went decades without taking care of the players that made the game. The NFL’s lack of caring in the past for retired players has been appalling, and they have been better on the concussion issue and taking care of retired players. Unfortunately, they still fall way short of what they should be doing. The quality of play in the NFL just isn’t what it used to be, and it seems every week that there is at least one game that is decided by poor officiating. The television rating are dropping for the NFL, and if it weren’t for gamblers and fantasy football, the drop off would increase even more dramatically. Can anything be done? Here is an idea If your a fan of the game, maybe it is time to stay home and go to church on Sunday, do the yard work, play with your kids, do anything but hand over your hard earned money to a big corporation that couldn’t care less about you. Rich people will only listen to you when they start losing money.
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