You will get hoodwinked on stadium costs

Indianapolis city officials promised taxpayers a Super Bowl if they would just pony up for Lucas Oil Stadium. They got the Super Bowl…and lost money on it.
  • Indianapolis city officials promised taxpayers a Super Bowl if they would just pony up for Lucas Oil Stadium. They got the Super Bowl…and lost money on it.

On August 17 of last year, San Diego Chargers flack Mark Fabiani told a KPBS audience that local taxpayers would have to pick up most of the tab for a new stadium so the team could stay competitive. “The average [public] subsidy in the [National Football League] is about 65 percent of the cost of a stadium,” quoth the silver-tongued spokesman. “If we spend 100 percent private funding for a stadium, we’d be in a worse financial position than we are now, vis-à-vis our competitors.”

Mark Fabiani

Mark Fabiani

Wrong again, Mark. A new book by Harvard urban planning professor Judith Grant Long, Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities, shows that for the 121 venues in use during 2010, the public picked up 78 percent of the tab, not 65 percent. This means that if a new Chargers stadium costs $1 billion, which is likely, local taxpayers would plunk in almost $800 million — an outrageous sum.

Judith Grant Long

Judith Grant Long

In total, American taxpayers spent $10 billion more on those 121 facilities than they were told they would shell out by the media and the sports industry. Professor Long figures that hidden costs of land, infrastructure, and lost property taxes add 25 percent to the taxpayer bill. She subtracted money that comes back to cities and states from rent payments and other deal-related revenue.

Writes Long, “Given that popular reports set expectations of more or less equal partnerships between host cities and teams, those estimates of public costs indicate that the public/private partnerships underlying these deals are highly uneven.” In nonacademic prose, she would say that what is presented to the public is malarkey, and the people are likely to get screwed while billionaire team owners rake in the bucks.

She concludes that the public should not pay any part of the building costs. “Land and infrastructure you help with,” she told Bloomberg news. “The building? Let them go it alone.” She says that the realistic cost of sports facilities receives little attention from researchers “because most economic analyses demonstrate that sports facilities produce very few or no net new economic benefits relative to construction costs alone, and, so, in this sense, more accurate cost estimates would only serve to reinforce a case already made.” Objective economists have already shown that sports facilities don’t jack up the economy, as promoters claim.

Warning to San Diego: small metro areas fare worse than larger ones because they have to put up more bucks to keep a team from moving to a juicier market, according to Long.

Sports economists I talk with say Long’s figures are definitely in the…er, uh…ballpark. “You can take Judith Long’s figures to the bank,” says Rodney Fort, professor of sport management at the University of Michigan. “She has done the most extensive and most important work on figuring the totality of subsidies [in pro sports].”

I, for one, have always believed that a big part of the sports scam is that the team counts naming and advertising-signage rights as parts of its contribution, thereby skimping on its own capital. Why doesn’t the city get, or at least split, the income from naming rights? Long does figure that in certain cases, granting naming rights to the team is essentially a public expense, and Fort agrees.

Why is the public misinformed? “The press doesn’t think to ask [about hidden costs],” says Fort. People focus on bonds needed to pay for a project and neglect to ask the right cost questions.

Roger Noll, professor of economics emeritus at Stanford, says infrastructure costs, which could come to 10 to 15 percent of the expense of a project, might be downplayed by the promoters, “although if you ask them [for the numbers], they will tell you.”

Dennis Coates, professor of economics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who blesses Long’s figures, says that forgiveness of property taxes is increasingly a part of subsidized deals. “Some will say that [tax forgiveness] is not really a cost, but of course it is a cost,” he says. He also feels mainstream media are often responsible for the public’s ignorance of a project’s cost. “Local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters get an enormous amount of revenue” from sports coverage. Reporters realize that.

Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati racked up more in public subsidies than it cost to build.

Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati racked up more in public subsidies than it cost to build.

Long points out in the book that three facilities — Miller Park in Milwaukee, Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis — actually racked up more in subsidies than they cost to build.

Bud Selig

Bud Selig

Miller is classic. Bud Selig, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, promised he would build a ballpark with his own money if local officials would only move a highway at a cost of $6 million. Later, he went to then-governor Tommy Thompson for help. In a slick move, Thompson got the state legislature to hike sales taxes in the counties around Milwaukee. Selig would still have to put in money, but he wiggled out of that, too. Ultimately, he got the stadium for nothing. Awed team owners made him commissioner of Major League Baseball. (Thompson, who was defeated for the Senate last month, was known as the politician who conquered social welfare — but hardly corporate welfare.)

The Wall Street Journal called Cincinnati’s football stadium and ballpark “one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government.” Costs for the stadium escalated, taxes jumped, and the stadium fund went deeply into the red. According to Cincinnati magazine, the Bengals owner’s “litigious bullying” has prohibited compromises from lifting Hamilton County out of desperate straits caused by the one-sided deal. (The arrangement with the Cincinnati Reds for the baseball park wasn’t quite as financially disastrous.)

When Baltimore wouldn’t give its Colts a new stadium in 1984, they moved in the middle of the night to Indianapolis, which gave them one. Several years later, the Colts wanted another one, or they would move. Indianapolis caved. Hotel, rental car, and restaurant taxes went up. City fathers appeased taxpayers, saying Indianapolis would get a Super Bowl in 2012. It got one — and lost money on it. ■

Contact Don Bauder at 619-546-8529

Comments

Mark Fabiani lies as well as the team plays.

SurfPup: This column is mainly about the findings of Harvard's Judith Grant Long. Fabiani is not a major part of the column. Best, Don Bauder

dwbat: Fabiani has several other very remunerative clients. Best, Don Bauder

Murphyjunk: Fabiani and I have exchanged some insults through the years. In one email exchange, he called me, in effect, a dumbbell. I wrote back that he must feel great: he rakes in great sums of money stealing funds from California schools so that the billionaires who pay him can get even richer. Best, Don Bauder

San Diego Chargers flack Mark Fabiani told a KPBS audience that local taxpayers would have to pick up most of the tab for a new stadium so the team could stay competitive. “The average [public] subsidy in the [National Football League] is about 65 percent of the cost of a stadium,”

How did it come to this, the middle class, the poor and poverty stricken- supporting billionaires. This country has major problems, and I am not even including our depression that started 4Q 2007......

SurfPup: The most important aspect of Fabiani's statement to KPBS is that it is a gross exaggeration, if not simply an untruth. A new stadium would not improve the team's prowess on the field to any significant degree, if at all. The team would not have to share receipts from luxury boxes with other teams, and would have a few other advantages, but the NFL has all kinds of restrictions, such as salary caps and the draft, that keep a well-heeled team from dominating the sport, in the way that rich teams do in baseball. The NFL is, in essence, a socialist organization, in terms of leveling the playing field among teams. A new stadium would benefit the Spanos family's bottom line, but not the team's performance significantly, if at all. Best, Don Bauder

The NFL salary floor is 90% of the cap and all the franchises are already profitable. The "competitive" quote from Fabiani is a lie.

Gee--I wonder if this story might ever appear in the Manchester U-T? Well done again, sir.

aardvark: I doubt that you will read a word about Judith Grant Long's study in UT San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Lol--I really didn't think so, but thank you for the article.

aardvark: if the story shows up, you can almost be certain it will be buried. Best, Don Bauder

Don, great read and very informative...thank you.

I read on the internet that 2,000 years ago the gladiators of Rome threaten to move to Venice , whose people loved the gladiators more and would build them a grand stadium to prove it. The people of Rome would have none of this, immediately taxing themselves to raise funds not just to build a stadium, BUT A HUGE COLUSEUM.

Visited Rome a few years back and I can tell you they did a great job. :}

jibaro: And that structure in Rome has lasted a long time. If it had been built in the U.S., the team would have demanded a new one in 20 years. Best, Don Bauder

Look on the bright side. I don't think San Diego will get ripped off as blatantly as Miami just did; the Marlins brazenly having a "fire sale" to get rid of most of their highly paid players now that their nice new taxpayer-funded stadium is open.

ImJustABill: I would hope San Diego would not get fleeced the way Miami, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and others have. The scam will be buried in the fine print and mainstream media may not report that. Best, Don Bauder

Don, the "fleecing" is intentional...I have told you before a FIRST SEMESTER law student, with only "Contracts I" under their belt could do a better deal than San Diego (and the other multitude of cities) with the Chargers.

A TICKECT GUARANTEE!!!!!! Are you KIDDING ME!!! Who in the hell does something that stoopid in the real world?????? No one.

SurfPup: I agree completely. In both the Qualcomm remake and the construction of Petco, San Diego lawyers got completely snookered. But they wanted to get snookered. They had instructions to roll over from Golding. For Petco negotiations, the City hired a couple of experts. But Moores didn't want them and they were fired. Best, Don Bauder

Reading all of this, I can only think that it is all drama. But in pro sports, it is all contrived drama. We hear that the hapless Chargers coach and his boss, the GM, will be fired. How many times in the past have the local fans been whipped around with hopes that a front office change and a coaching change will finally put the team on top? I don't know, and would have lost count if I'd been trying to keep track. But is any of this for real? Are these "clubs" really trying to win? Did Gene Klein ever care that the team won or lost as long as the season ticket revenues kept coming in?

The stadium deal will have no effect on the winning or losing of the team over the next many years. Neither will the desire of local fans to "support" a winner have any influence. The reasons for one team to win and another to lose are, as Churchill once said "a riddle wrapped within a mystery inside an enigma" that is unfathomable to the outsiders (the 99% that supports this stuff.)

Visduh: Good points. Social psychologists should study it. Why do people in a city go crazy rooting for a team made up of players that generally live elsewhere during the offseason? Few have ties to the city they play for. I can see rooting for a college team, but why a pro team? Now, your point on owners is interesting. Through the years, owners have been big gamblers, often tied to organized crime. (I have written a number of columns on that. Check what I have written on Eugene Klein.) Do the owners gamble on the point spread? If so, they certainly have inside information that other gamblers don't have. Best, Don Bauder

Don, when looking at total cost to tax payers, does the research include police and paramedic overtime?

Typically, professional sports events require extra cops and first responders. These assignments are highly sought after because they're cushy duty, and they are usually paid at overtime rates.

Then there are the costs cities incur when the teams actually win...and riots break out, fans turn ugly and burn cars in the streets.

What about lost productivity, especially in the host cities of big games? We know that other events are cancelled when Super Bowls come to town, so any "boost" is mere replacement...could we quantify the quality of those displaced events? Wouldn't a city benefit a lot more from the spending of a convention of neurologists than a stadium of football fans?

Then we could get into the long term medical costs of former players...not only of professional sports, but the unpaid and often uninsured semi-professional football players at colleges and universities who are too often maimed for life.

How far do the researchers go in counting the costs to everyone of professional football?

Could we include wasted educational opportunities as hapless high schoolers are herded into auditoriums to cheer for jocks they despise? How many concussions were generated for this game? How many bullies nurtured, protected, privileged, pampered, and either turned into sociopaths or infantilized, and then turned loose on society to make their way after they are no longer useful to the sport?

Not saying that professional and school-based football always leads to bad outcomes, but it sure does cost society a lot more than we ever acknowledge. Compared to any other pastime or entertainment (IN THEN END FOOTBALL IS JUST ENTERTAINMENT) there seems to be nothing comparable in its expense and waste.

Cop/security is paid by the team, at least LE. I would imagine the extra FF and paramedics are also paid by the team.

SP: I do not believe that pay of extra cops, etc., is paid by the team or the league. Best, Don Bauder

I think it is, but need to research it more....

Cop/security is part of what's included in the annual $11 to $12 million annual operating loss on the stadium.

So you're saying the team does NOT cover the LE costs??????? I am surprised as I thought they did, but certainly not shocked. Nothing can shock me with these NFL scams today.

Fred: Good points. Economists have studied Super Bowls, for example. The NFL says the host team brings in $350 million. Objective economists say it's more like $35 million, and some conclude host cities lose money, greatly because of factors you mention: expense of extra police, etc., and money a city loses when the hotels are all saved for the game. (Companies will buy a week's worth of hotel rooms but only use them a couple of days, for example.) You can find reams of columns I have written on this for the Reader, and, believe it or not, also for the U-T. Best, Don Bauder

Re: "Fibber" Fabiani

Would one of the lawyers here advise me on a point of law?

If a hypothetical citizen of San Diego were to hypothetically knock out some of Fabiani's hypothetical teeth (for all I know he wears dentures) would that citizen be entitled to present a self-defense/defense of property argument to the court?

After all, it is well known that Fabiani has deliberately deceived the public on a number of occassions in the past, from helping Clinton claim he never had sex with "that woman", or Lance Armstrong say he was clean as a whistle, or the Chargers declare that the stadium is a good deal for San Diego and that the team is working in good faith.

We know this man is a liar. Full stop. No argument from anyone on the planet that this many lies like a rug...

So preventing him from performing his frauds on the public, even temporarily by knocking out some of his hypothetical teeth, would not be a crime...it would be self-defense. The hypothetical protector of San Diego would prevent Fabiani from engaging in conspiracy, extortion, and outright theft of public funds.

So, hypothetically, the person who knocks Fabiani's front teeth out would be entitled to a commendation...

Any lawyers care to explain how this theory might fare before a San Diego judge?

:-)

(No, Dumanis, don't send investigators after me for "terroristic threats"...this is obviously satire, protected free speech, and I have no intention or ability to carry out any acts, nor do I encourage anyone else to do so. Compare what the Chargers encouraged its fans to say to Henderson before you call me out for incitement or threats...besides, a toothless Fabiani would be poetic justice...hypothetically speaking...while a toothless D.A. who prosecutes shoplifters more vigorously than political corruption is just injustice)

This is actually a valid argument- fraud.

I would think a taxpaying citizen could go back to the statements the Chargers have made to induce the citizens, or their representatives, to pay for all the freebies in exchange for a certain return on the teams staying, relying on an increase in taxes and commerce.

If a taxpayer went to court, with adequate wherewithal to go to war with deep pocketed Spanos, based on a fraud action- and won, that could be the end of the stadium giveaways, as the liability from a fraud judgement would stop the lies- and thereby the taxpayer financed freebies- cold turkey in their tracks.

SP: If you could sue NFL owners for their deceptions, you could sue every politician in Washington and every state for similar transgressions. Best, Don Bauder

Well, I do agree in concept, but here is the difference;

The Chargers are a private business, not politicians or a government. A fraud action could work.

SP: You are a lawyer. Give it a try. Best, Don Bauder

Fred: I think you would lose your case. In fact, I am sure of it. Best, Don Bauder

BTW it is now referred to as "criminal threats". And do not put anything past Dumbass in regard to filing bogus charges as she has already fabricated evidence in a murder trial, if she will do that she will do anything.

SP: Fred made very clear he was making satire, not threats. Best, Don Bauder

Fred did make it clear, the problem is not Fred-it is Dumbass.

Don't be shocked if Dumbass were to get an arrest warrant and bring felony charges just to drop the case on the eve of trial, for harassment purposes.

SP: But last I heard, Fred didn't live in US. Possibly that has changed. Best, Don Bauder

It is Refried that lives in TJ, I thought Fred lived in SD????? And it wouldn't matter was extradition is an option for most countries..... .

SurfPup: I thought Fred lived on another continent. But he may have moved back. We'll let him answer that. Best, Don Bauder

I had just assumed he lived in SD b/c of his education at City College and comments here. I don't know.

SP: Fred knows San Diego quite well, having been active in the area for many years. He may be back. Best, Don Bauder

I believe that Fred Williams is still teaching in Prague.

tomjohnston: I thought he was in Prague, but don't know. Beautiful city. Lucky Fred. Czech Republic and Prague have financial problems, though. Best, Don Bauder

The Trend is downward in terms of percent being financed by the Public. The vikings and colts got much more public money that the Giants/Jets or 49ers by percent. This has to due with them living in states with far better fiscal situations than california. There is a cost for the public, but for multiple super bowls?? You would think say it costs 800Mil, the nfl has the G4 fund and 200 mil. That the chargers and san diego could split 300M right down the middle. 300 mil in city funds to be in the rotation for the super bowl?? San diego will be right there after new orleans to host multiple super bowls. Also, the bcs championship game is a bid spot. So it could come to san diego as well.

kloxman1: The amount that Chargers and local government entities split will be a helluva lot more than $300 million. Best, Don Bauder

300 mil in city funds to be in the rotation for the super bowl?

Oh the old "upfront fee" scam, yo give us X amount up front and I can give you the secrets to wealth!!!. Don, didn't you do a story a while back on a mail fraud scammer with one of these up front fee scams????

SurfPup: I have been doing stories about upfront fee scams for decades. Best, Don Bauder

Dream on. There will be no "bid" for a BCS championship game. The championship game rotates among the four BCS bowl game sites, Miami, Pasadena, New Orleans and Glendale. I don't see the BCS dropping any one of those sites and moving a game just to play in San Diego because they have a new stadium.

tomjohnston: The NFL's dangling of Super Bowl possibilities, and the rotation of those games, are scams to get cities to vote subsidies for billionaire owners. BCS officials have no such motivation. Best, Don Bauder

"The Trend is downward in terms of percent being financed by the Public. The vikings and colts got much more public money that the Giants/Jets or 49ers by percent" ???????????????????

Where do you get this stuff from.

MetLife Stadium was privately financed. The Jets and Giants basically split the $1.6 billion cost, excluding the loan from the NFL.

The 49'ers got $850 million from Santa Clara for their stadium. That is MOST of the projected construction cost, although the 49'ers have a $200 million dollar loan from the NFL, should they need it. That's at least 85%+ public financing.

Lucas Oil Stadium didn't even cost that much to build, only $720 million and the Colts put in $125 million, so that's about 83% public financing.

And the Vikings new stadium is projected to cost $975 million and the Vikings are only paying about $475 million towards it, less than 50%. The rest, expected to be AT LEAST $500 million, will come from the public. However, since the design hasn't even been finalized,construction is nor expected to start until October 2013 at the earliest.

So tell me again, how is it that the Vikings and Colts got "much more public money" by percentage?

And the Vikings new stadium is projected to cost $975 million and the Vikings are only paying about $475 million towards it,

There is no way ANY NFL team is putting $475 large into a stadium deal, no way. Does that include the naming/Branding $$$$$, because of it does that doesn't count. That is not NFL team money-it is money that should be appropriated on a percentage basis to who put the money in. I was so pissed off when Golding allowed the Padres to use the $150 million they got from naming rights as THEIR money in the Padres stadium, it wasn't their money-it was the money generated from the stadium and should ave been appropriated mainly to the gov who subsidized most of Padres the deal.

Well, why don't you show us just one single report that says different. The agreement has been signed, sealed and delivered. Funding the Vikings at $477 million, the state at $348 million and the city of Minneapolis for $150 million. The Vikings will use revenue from PSL's as part of their funding.

I am not in the know on the deal, and do not have the time or effort to research it, but I can guarantee you that the team is not putting $477 million in, unless they are counting naming/branding rights, and then that is not really their money, but a future cash flow that rightfully belongs to the ones who fund the stadium on a % basis...........

tomjohnston: If the Vikings are putting PSL revenue into their payment, it is not $477 million. And what about naming rights? Won't the Vikings get those, too? And signage rights? The team getting the revenue from naming and signage rights is part of almost all these scams. Best, Don Bauder

The NAMING rights, and any other branding, like signs, should be split pro rata to the amount invested. There is no reason at ALL that the team should be claiming naming rights to a stadium they didn't build or own. OI was furious when the Padres deal allowed the team to pocket $150 million in naming rights, no excuse for that gravy train give away at all.....

$200 million of the Vikings funding comes from the NFL's G-4 program the rest comes from PSL sales. The city of Santa Clara gets all the revenue from PSL sales which is estimated to be between $400 and $500 million. Look it up if you want.

"Teams looking to build new stadiums without paying for them themselves are, naturally, thrilled — since this is money that they wouldn't normally get to keep anyway, it's effectively a grant, not a loan. (Unless club seat and ticket sales come in below projections, in which case they're on the hook for the difference.) San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York tweeted that he was confident his team would be first to get a cut of the G-4 boodle, San Diego Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani called it "great news for the team and our fans," and Vikings stadium chieftain Lester Bagley called it "good news," though he quickly added the caveat that the Vikings still don't have a deal for the other $800 million it takes to build a stadium these days." Interesting, $200 million is a good start. The Vikings owner said he doesn't know where ANY of the other costs -$800 million!!!- will come from. John, there is NO WAY a team is going to pocket $400-$500 million for PSL's. Oakland's PSL projections were so far off base they ended up on Mars.........

Dallas raised over $400 million in PSL sales, Giants just under $400 mil and Jets about $325 mil. The 49ers are priced to bring in over $500 million. The last report on the 49ers PSL sales is they've sold almost all of the club seats and well over $300 million so far. The final figure will definitely be between $400 and $500 million.

I'm completely anti public funding, I hope the Chargers leave, but I've read through all the financial data and I have the correct numbers. Santa Clara will pocket at least $400 million in PSL sales which still leaves a massive amount of unfunded public debt.

So it looks like the Atlanta Falcons will be getting their corporate welfare check. 300M from new taxes towards a 1B stadium.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-10/new-falcons-football-stadium-plans-approved-by-atlanta-authority.html

New taxes?? Perhaps you didn't read thoroughly: "Construction and the demolition of the existing Georgia Dome would be partially paid for with about $300 million generated by an existing hotel-motel tax in Atlanta and Fulton County." And this is far from a done deal. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority is a state agency that would own and operate the facility, but it is the state legislature that would have to vote to approve the deal. They would have raise the borrowing limit for the Congress Center to sell enough bonds to cover their part of the revenue needed to finance the deal, which would be. This was just the first step in laying out some of the details and is a non ebinding agreement

tomjohnston: You make interesting points, but would you put any money on a rejection of this deal? Best, Don Bauder

??????? I don't know and I don't care whether or not Atlanta gets a new Stadium. I was pointing out 2 things.

  1. It's not even close to a done deal, in literal terms, thought a new stadium may be a fait accompli long before the legislative process is completed, and

  2. the $300 million figure being used will come from bonds paid for by an existing hotel-motel tax.

The new stadium is projected to cost about a billion dollars with about $300 million of it from hotel-motel taxes. If those projections prove accurate, the Falcons would be committed to cover about $700 million, minus whatever is generated from PSLs. The team would be eligible for up to $200 million in loans and grants from the NFL and also could raise money by selling naming rights.

tomjohnston: The money from the existing hotel-motel tax is money that Atlanta could spend on worthy projects. Best, Don Bauder

A couple of thoughts. First, while in theory, hotel/motel tax money could go towards other "worthy projects", that doesn't change the fact that it is not a new tax, as the commenter I was replying to stated. Second, as for spending that money on other worthy projects instead, actually it can't be spent on other projects. Atlanta has a 15 percent tax for a night's stay at Atlanta hotels. The first 7 percent currently goes to the city toward retiring debt on the Georgia Dome; and to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Georgia World Congress Center to try to attract more conventions and visitors. The remaining 8 percent is a sales tax. That's the way is set up and the money actually can't be used for any other purposes.

tomjohnston: Money is fungible. Money going into the entertainment subsidy pot is money that does not go to worthy projects. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: Yes, it has just been announced that the Falcons will get their stadium. The public is being told that it will be used for many other events, such as concerts. Hmm. Will those concerts significantly reduce the Falcons' subsidy? Atlantans will be fed hooey. Best, Don Bauder

Holy crap. Atlanta'a stadium is 20 YEARS OLD! They just spent $300 mil from 2006-2009 for upgrades, and now they are going to get another stadium?!?! For roughly $1 BILLION?!?! I don't know what else to say, other than it is total B.S.

aardvark: Shameful as it is, this happens regularly in pro sports. Taxpayers provide a new stadium, ballpark or arena, and the team promises to stay. Two decades or three decades later, the team is threatening to leave again if it doesn't get still another facility. Look at the Chargers: they promised to stay to 2020 if the stadium now named Qualcomm would be rehabilitated to the team's plans. Within a couple of years, the Chargers, citing contract loopholes, were threatening to move again. Best, Don Bauder

Don--the city of Atlanta and the Falcons are setting the bar to a new high (or low) level. The Georgia Dome is only 20 years old. But I do understand it is what pro sports have become. Even many minor league baseball teams have done the same thing, and have gotten new parks, even though the cities who have built them in no way could afford them. Fresno and Reno come to mind off the top of my head, but I am sure there are many others.

I do not follow football, except the Chargers, very loosely, but are you saying the Falcons had a NEW stadium built just 20 years ago- and are already threatening to leave unless they get a NEWER one built???????

The Chargers still take the cake for chutzpah, they wanted a new stadium (2000) just 4 years after Jack Murphy was renovated (1996), when they had promised to stay put for 20 years-until 2016.

SP: This is SOP. The team threatens to leave unless it gets a new stadium. Two decades later it pulls the same scam. Happens all over. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: Look how Escondido was setting itself up to be fleeced by the Padres. I am assuming that deal is still off. I hope I am right. Best, Don Bauder

The Atlanta voters still have to approve the public funding for a new stadium. We'll see what happens.

So another question for the lawyers - can/should municipalities file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL? Seems pretty clear to me the NFL (and other major sports leagues) are monopolies which limit the number of teams so that cities are always pressured into paying up for new stadia.

Of course, as Don has pointed out before the civic leaders might not WANT to stop the teams' actions - as the civic leaders may have strong personal incentives to support team owners, in conflict with their civic responsibilities.

But let's say for the sake of argument that all of the city/municipal leaders really wanted to do what was in the best interest of their consituents. From a legal perspective, would an antitrust lawsuit be possible to force major sports leagues to stop holding cities hostage for stadia?

Seems to me it should be, but then again it seemed really obvious to me that Ticketmaster was a monopoly using anticompetive tactics against Pearl Jam - but Ticketmaster came out ahead in that suit. So maybe I don't understand these antitrust things very well.

The NFL has had an anti-trust exemption for over 50 yrs. There have been a few attempts to pass legislation to repeal the exemption, but they have gone nowhere. The most recent was last year, but the House Judiciary Committee wouldn't even take up the proposal

The NFL has had an anti-trust exemption for over 50 yrs

Another sign that we are indeed a banana republic where billionaires are getting their billions due to a double standard, such as the anti-trust exemptions

. JP Morgan, John Davison Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie ALL wanted to get anti-trust legislation passed for them too (especially JP Morgan, his entire business model was to operate an industry w/o any competition).........but Teddy Roosevelt said NO. Who is saying no to the NFL- no one. Same with MLB.

"Who is saying no to the NFL- no one. Same with MLB." Baseball has essentially had an anti-trust exemption since the National League joined with the American League in 1903. The first challenge was around 1915 I believe. SCOTUS had a chance to make a change in 1972, but they took the easy way out by saying that it was up to Congress to make that change. BTW, if you want to read something interesting, look up American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League.

Yes, I am familiar iwth American Needle, the hat case as I recall.....

SurfPup: True. No one says "No" to the NFL. The brain injury lawsuits may change things somewhat. Best, Don Bauder

tomjohnston: Of course the attempts to repeal the antitrust exemption have gone nowhere. Congresssional investigative committee attempts to study the links of NFL owners to organized crime have gone nowhere, despite all the evidence. The public wants to believe the game is clean. Best, Don Bauder

Don Bauder, I think you are wrong. In a 2008 Harris poll, 30% of respondents said that pro football is their favorite sport That was more double the amount of the number 2 sport, baseball. Harris has been conducting this poll since 1985 and pro football has been number one every year. I don't think the public wants to "believe the game is clean". I believe, and have for a very long time, that the public really just doesn't care one way or another.

Just my opinion.

Opinions vary.

tomjohnston: I agree that pro football is far and away the nation's favorite sport. The owners sure take advantage of that! Best, Don Bauder

And if you were they owner of something that was the nation's favorite, say the favorite newspaper, wouldn't you take advantage also?

tomjohnston: I would not screw the public. Corporations have an obligation to play fair with governments, which do not have the resources of the big companies. I have friends who feel as strongly as I do about the stadium/ballpark scams. But they put the blame on incompetent government. I do not. I believe that corporations of all kinds have a responsibility to the community -- not just their owners/shareholders. Companies also have a responsibility to their employees, vendors, customers. Best, Don Bauder

But can't you take advantage of something's popularity while at the same time not screw the public?? As for a corporations responsibility to the community, I disagree slightly. I think a corporation should, and I emphasize should, have a symbiotic relationship with their employees, vendors, customers. As for their responsibility to the community, I think they have certain, for lack of a better term, legal responsibilities, Safety, environmental, paying their taxes, that kind of stuff. However, I don't believe that corporations are or should be required to have what I will refer to as "moral" obligations to their community. That said, it doesn't mean that I don't wish more corporations were morally responsible, I just don't think that the government should be in the business of legislating morality, on any level. In regard to stadium/ballpark scams, you left out one critical opponent, the voting public. My own personal opinion is that anyone who falls for it, and votes to give huge, outrageous sums of money for a stadium to be built deserves what they get.

tomjohnston: You say that a community that votes to subsidize a new stadium for a billionaire's team deserves what it gets. But look at it another way: in any such election, the team outspends opponents by 100 to 1 or more. The team also can rely on mainstream media, which make bundles from sports advertising, to slant the news in the team's direction. How do you beat that? Opponents of these "subsidize billionaires" scams seldom win. As to corporations' responsibilities to communities, I disagree: corporations have a major responsibility to their communities. That may mean losing profits by not moving plants to low- or slave-wage nations. There is one very practical reason for this responsibility: at some point the public is going to get so enraged by current corporate excesses that punitive legislation will pass, despite all the money lobbyists toss at politicians. Best, Don Bauder

A few questions: how does all of this play out in Green Bay? That just happens to be the sole NFL franchise owned by the fans. What if one day the majority decides that Lambeau Field has outlived its usefulness, and deign to build a new stadium? I'm just curious as to who would subsidize that undertaking, especially (presumably) without the billionaire bucks to start the ball rolling. Would they raffle off cheese blocks, or go door-to-door begging for funds? Seems that they would come up awfully short in the end. I'm guessing the NFL wouldn't lift a finger to help. Well, maybe the middle one.

About $300 million was spent on renovating Lambeau about 10 yrs ago. Most of that money cam from a .5% sales tax increase. Last year they spent about almost another $150 million on renovating the south and north end zones and adding 2 new video boards. This time the packers paid for it themselves. Add that to the sky boxes added during the late 80's-early 90's and Lambeau is in good shape for a long time. That said, if they wanted a new stadium, it seems they would do what everyone else does, either borrow money or get the taxpayers to foot the bill. I don't see the Packers being publicly owned making much difference

tomjohnston: Green Bay residents are hardy (foolhardy?) folks who don't complain about sitting in a stadium with the wind chill factor well under zero. So will there ever be pressure for an indoor stadium there? Interesting. Best, Don Bauder

Duhbya: The Packers have 112,000 shareholders. The team says it is "community-owned" but the Green Bay government does not own it. A few years ago, there was actually a taxpayer dispute about how much money would be put into the Packers' field for improvements. The Packers may be a religion in Wisconsin, but there was actually fairly strong opposition in Green Bay to spending the money on the stadium. The Packers won, of course, but I remember being surprised that there was even a dispute. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks for the pertinent info, guys. I had never considered the GB situation before.

Before the 2003 renovation, in the late 90's if I remember, the idea was floated of replacing Lambeau. In essence, the "owners" of the Packers were being asked to tax themselves into oblivion in order to build the new stadium. The Idea went down in flames. The 2000 1/2 percent sales tax increase was an incredibly controversial issue and I think it passed at something like a 53 or 54 percent vote. Not exactly a resounding victory, but a victory none the less.

tomjohnston: Always interesting to me that there WAS a controversy in Green Bay over spending taxpayer money to fix up the stadium. Best, Don Bauder

The 2003 renovation in Green Bay was only $25 million less than the Patriots brand new 2003 stadium and as you mentioned they spent more on another recent "improvement". Would've been cheaper for Green Bay to build a brand new stadium instead of renovating and Gillette stadium is much nicer than the more expensive Lambeau. Green Bay managed to screw over themselves, guess it isn't just billionaire families like the Spanoses that rip off the public. Football fans don't seem to be capable of making smart decisions. Gillette stadium was done so well only because Kraft paid for it himself, he even owns the land.

"in any such election, the team outspends opponents by 100 to 1 or more" I'm sorry, but I don't care how much money is spent. If some votes for anything based solely on what they see on tv or read in an editorial or on a bill board without doing any independent analysis or thinking then yes, they deserve what they get. Frame it like this. If you vote on something because of what you read, saw or heard, without any personal research, and then found out you were scammed, how is that not your fault? You pulled the lever or punched the tab.

tomjohnston: Sorry, particularly in a sports stadium election, the money spent is extremely important. About 20% of fans are absolute fanatics. That's a strong base. Mainstream media bias is also persuasive. The advertising purchased by that 100 to 1 advantage invariably tells a false story -- that the stadium will somehow pay for itself. It's almost impossible to beat that. Best, Don Bauder

Then I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. It's about personal responsibility, or lack there of. I don't care how much money is spent, if someone makes the wrong vote because they don't take the time, or simply don't care enough to look into that "story" and find out the truth, they they have no one to blame but themselves. Would you blame the money if you were hoodwinked? Or would you own up and say that it was your responsibility because you didn't spend enough time looking into the particular issue yourself? It doesn't matter if it's a stadium, a mayoral election or a national election. Seems to me that the hundreds of millions, probably more like billions, spent by outside sources to defeat Obama and the Dems in general didn't really do much. Perhaps people are just more selective when it comes to a national vote than they are when it comes to how their tax dollars are spent.

tomjohnston: What percentage of voters in the last election really studied the positions of Obama and Romney? Or the positions of the senators and congresspersons they voted on? C'mon. Best, Don Bauder

In terms of "moral" obligations like giving back to the community - I would agree with you.

What Fabiani, the NFL, and the Chargers do IMO borders on fraud and bribery. It's just done in such a sophisticated manner that they can get away with it. It's all compliant with the letter of the law (or at least close enough to get away with it) even if it's not necessarily compliant with the intent of laws against bribery and fraud (IMO)

ImJustABill: It goes back to the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. Crooks hire the highest-priced lawyers to keep their scams within the letter of the law. Happens everywhere. Best, Don Bauder

I believe that corporations of all kinds have a responsibility to the community -- not just their owners/shareholders. Companies also have a responsibility to their employees, vendors, customers.

I will second Don's motion :)

SP: I hope there will be at least a third person who joins us. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: Do we have a fourth for corporate responsibility? Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: I have always thought that the NFL uses illegal methods to con cities into subsidizing their stadia. But law enforcement would never pursue such suits, and if it did, judges would almost certainly reject the cases, even though the lures are blatantly illegal. Study the cases against Petco. They were valid, but judges never let them get anywhere. Best, Don Bauder

Don Bauder, Let me ask you a question. You quote Fabio as saying " “The average [public] subsidy in the [National Football League] is about 65 percent of the cost of a stadium,”. You then go on to declare him wrong, citing a book,"Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities", that says for the 121 venues in use during 2010, the public picked up 78 percent of the tab. Isn't that apples and oranges? Obviously, the NFL didn't play in 121 stadiums. I read it to be referring to ALL of the venues used for major league sports, which, in addition to football, would be baseball, basketball and hockey. So the question is, from that book, what is the percentage over that period for strictly NFL stadiums? Putting whether Fabio was correct or not aside, isn't it just a tad bit disingenuous to calling him wrong when your using a completely different data set? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I agree with Fabio. The fact is I don't know. But comparing only NFL stadiums vs ALL major league sports venues doesn't really seem to be a valid comparison.

Just my opinion.

Opinions vary.

tomjohnston: Good point. I have seen data for the NFL only. As I remember, those data are consistent with the data for other sports. I think it would be almost impossible for the NFL to be 65% and the NFL plus other sport facilities to be 78%. Best, Don Bauder

If you have seen data for the NFL only, then how would it be possible for you to state that those data are consistent with other sports. Perhaps you could post the actual data listed in the book for the 4 major league sports.

The Dallas Cowboys who moved to Arlington and built a billion dollar stadium. Then they sold seat "licenses" for $10,000 each. The license entitles the owner to buy tickets to his own seat and the seat cost is over $100 per seat. The city paid for the stadium (mostly) and after 30 years ownership goes over to the Cowboys. That is the deal the Chargers want. They will tell you anything to get you to vote for a stadium but then you will not be able to afford the license fee and ticket cost. I like the Dodgers model. they own the land, the stadium, the parking lot and the concessions. The Dodgers still make lots of money, it is possible to actually have a capitalist business paid by capitalists.

The PSLs for the almost 10k club seats at the new 49ers stadium are $20,000, $30,000 and $80,000 per seat. They've already sold most of these.

I like the Dodgers model. they own the land, the stadium, the parking lot and the concessions. The Dodgers still make lots of money, it is possible to actually have a capitalist business paid by capitalists.

1- The Dodgers only own HALF the parking lots (dumbest move ever) 2- The Dodgers do NOT make "lots of money" and never will, where did you get that from?????? Not when they paid $2 BILLION for a team that was sold for $450 million just 15 years prior, and TWICE the cost of ANY OTHER sports franchise. The Dodgers have also committed to over $1 billion in new player contracts in the last 6 months.

The Dodgers WILL NEVER make a profit. Expect them to file BK within 5 years. The numbers will never work/c they overpaid by at least $1 billion, if not $1.25 billion.

I bet the person meant "the dodger model" before the latest sale. The one that worked for over 50 years.

In business you STILL have to make the numbers pencil out, the Dodgers current owners are absolutely nuts, the numbers will never work when you have debt service 10 times income, which is what they have due to the $2 billion price tag and $1 billion i new expenses via contracts. Will never ever work.

I can't wait to vote no on any public funding for a new stadium. I also hope the Spanoses eventually lose the team because of estate taxes. Yay fiscal cliff.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad

SD Reader Newsletters

Join our newsletter list and enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe!

Each subscription means another chance to win!

Close