Pro Sports Strong-arming Cities into Stadium Deals Are Flat Out Wrong
The Minnesota Vikings stadium deal collapsed earlier in the week. NFL Commissioner/Warden/Playa-Hata/QB-Lover Roger Goodell and onwer of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers Art Rooney II flew to Minnesota to speak with its governor and legislature. There was talk of Goodell throwing around the possibility of the Vikings moving to Los Angeles, where the NFL really REALLY wants to place a team.
A day or two later, the stadium bill was “renewed”.
In Sacramento, an effort to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento for the Kings fell through. The mayor of Sacramento, former NBA player Kevin Johnson, flew to Las Vegas to meet with the Maloof family (who owns the Kings) in hopes of reviving talks so the team will not move.
We all have seen this movie play out before.
We have seen the NBA move the Hornets from Charlotte to New Orleans, mainly because the city of Charlotte refused to give in to the whims of the former bumbling, cheap-ass, and scandal-ridden owner George Shinn. Recently the NBA moved the SuperSonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City.
We have seen the NHL move franchises such as the Minnesota North Stars, Hartford Whalers, and Quebec Nordiques to Dallas, Raleigh, NC and Denver respectively. The same NHL moved the old Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix of all places! (at least the NHL made things right moving the floundering Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg)
We have seen Major League Baseball move the Montreal Expos to Washington, DC. And to those of us old enough to remember, MLB relocated both Washington Senators franchises to become the Minnesota Twins (in 1961) and Texas Rangers (in 1972).
Even the mighty NFL moved the old Cleveland Browns franchise to Baltimore, as well as the Houston Oilers to Tennessee, and Los Angeles Rams to St. Louis (St. Louis?!).
The point I am making is pro franchise are wrong for strong-arming communities over the years into financing new stadiums and sports arenas with the threat of relocation.
Look, I know that there has to be some community investment with a sports franchise. The risk is often-times too great for owners of professional teams. I just think that given what ails our society – poor under-funded schools, lack of jobs, high-ass taxes, sky-rocketing inflation – that communities are better off not committing over 60% of the tab on stadium deals.
And sure, people say new stadiums and arenas will create more jobs and pay for itself over time.
Just don’t tell that to the people of Cincinnati, where it has to endure Bengals owner Mike Brown – the same dude who helped force the mother of all sweetheart deals which helped build Paul Brown Stadium. Oh, and by the way, all of the ticket proceeds – no matter the event – goes to Brown.
I hate seeing billionaires force communities into further debt in doing something that they should be doing themselves. Hell as much as I loathe Jerry Jones, at least he footed the majority of the bill for that $1.something billion palace for his Cowboys.
I really, REALLY hate corporate welfare. Professional sports leagues need to put an end to it.