The NFL And Los Angeles — Which Taxpayers Get Screwed Worst?
Being a football junkie, engineer, and overall nerd, one of my favorite sports websites is Advanced NFL Stats. They delve into the minutiae of the game at a level relatively unseen elsewhere, in addition to regularly linking commentary about the sport elsewhere that tackles strategy and tactics at almost a “football coach” level rather than ESPN talking-head level.
There’s usually not much overlap with politics, but today the purveyor of the blog, Brian, is discussing whether it’s better for the NFL to have a team in Los Angeles or to have it as a lucrative bargaining chip for other cities:
It may be that the NFL would be foolish not to take advantage of such a large market, but perhaps the current 32 teams are better off leaving LA wanting for a team.
Without a team there, they sacrifice the exposure and revenue LA can provide. On the other hand, a team-less LA might provide the 32 NFL teams much more. As it currently stands, any team trying to wrangle a new stadium or other major concession from its home city and state has a credible threat of a lucrative destination.
If Vikings owner Zigi Wilf wants a new stadium, with LA in the mix, he’s likely to get more cooperation from Minnesotans, fans and government alike. If Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver is seeking deep discounts on his lease or a bigger share of the stadium concessions, he’ll get a better reception with LA as a suitor than if Portland or Oklahoma City were the next best alternatives.
Based on this analysis, I would think that the taxpayers of cities with NFL stadiums are desperately hoping that LA gets a team. After all, as the actual victims of the extortion that local team owners foist on city officials, they’ve got the biggest dog in this fight.
What’s sad in this analysis (and I don’t discredit Brian for leaving it out, as he’s not — to my knowledge — a libertarian, and even if he were his blog is not a political policy blog in any way) is that it is merely a foregone conclusion that team owners can expect cities to bend over backwards to build stadiums if the teams merely have a credible threat to leave.
In a sane world, stadium funding wouldn’t have anything to do with city government, except maybe for zoning and traffic planning considerations. In fact, to the extend that infrastructure needs are stressed by the stadium, a city/state would be justified in extracting money from the team to help cover the externalities imposed upon neighboring residents due to the impact of the new stadium. But we don’t live in a sane world. We live in a world where local officials have an ego-driven need to keep teams in the city, and are willing to spend a lot of money in order to do so (it is easy since it’s not their own money). Team owners know this, so they’ll do whatever it takes to shunt the cost onto the taxpayer as well.
If this is the way the game is played, I hope for the rest of the country’s sake that LA gets at team. It would be nice to have professional football here
in addition to USC.