August 11, 2005
Pay to Play
Props to Villaraigosa for stuffing the NFL's demand for public stadium financing back in the face of the owners making it. LA is the second largest media market in the country, we've got a population that could pack more stadiums than public financing could possibly build, we're a damn good place for a football team and the only reason we don't have one is that owners elsewhere have been spoiled by sweetheart deals from city councils and local pols and refuse to bless the City of Angels unless we give them the same payoffs.
Well, fuck 'em.
The economic arguments for public financing of stadiums are, on their own merits, wrong. Reason's demolished them a couple times (here, and, particularly, here) but that shouldn't even be necessary. The fact of it is, sports teams make money for sport team owners, not cities. And when they stop doing that, owners move them. Sports teams are not a publicly owned resource committed to the good of the city, and the city should not pretend as if they are.
If the NFL wants to create a Packers' situation where a couple hundred thousand people can be part of the ownership and the team can never, ever leave the city, fine, maybe then they could make a case for public citizens to help pay for a publicly-owned franchise. But this? It's a private corporation looking at a profitable opportunity and deciding they won't enter unless they can make taxpayers pay the upfront costs.
LA remembers the Rams. Franchise loyalty is seen cynically over here, as well it should be. And if franchise want the freedom to leave, they can exercise that same freedom when they enter. The NFL needs LA much more than LA needs the NFL.
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Tracked on Aug 12, 2005 9:10:57 AM
Tracked on Aug 14, 2005 12:21:54 PM
The Roman Coliseum surely was paid with 'public' funds but it was essential to keeping the people preoccupied with blood and spectacle instead of less important things like public governance.
So, instead of LA paying for the NFL stadium, maybe BushCo could be tapped for the funds. Split the cost between the transportation, homeland security and energy budgets. Or EPA and Health and Human Services.
More seriously, your point about public ownership is right on. The NFL and Congress wouldn't go along, of course, and allow a city (or a raggedy-ass legion of fans acting like a corporation) to own a franchise, but that seems like the right and proper solution to loyalty-less big-wallet private owners who act like and are assholes most of the time.
Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 11, 2005 1:36:27 PM
Here in DC, the city nearly caved to outrageous demands from MLB for a publicly financed stadium for
the Nationals. As it is, the stadium will be mostly
publicly financed by local businesses that make over
a certain about in revenue. The rest is made up in
concession sales, parking revenue, etc. Bottom line,
the ownership group will not pay a dime for a new
state of the art facility, and the team may or may not stick around.
Posted by: politica | Aug 11, 2005 1:40:00 PM
The NFL was recently (and narrowly) repulsed from Pasadena's Rose Bowl, too. Yay!
Posted by: Allen K. | Aug 11, 2005 2:24:47 PM
right on brotha,
where were you on the jet's stadium boondogle in nYC? or was i transendentally absent that day?
Posted by: media in trouble | Aug 11, 2005 2:25:14 PM
I was in California, being not affect ;)
Posted by: Ezra Klein | Aug 11, 2005 2:29:25 PM
being not affected. Also being grammatically incorrect.
Posted by: Ezra Klein | Aug 11, 2005 2:35:56 PM
Ezra - I agree with you for the most part, but there are rare occassions where a publically finanaced ballpark is actually beneficial to the area. The one that pops into my mind is Camden Yards in Baltimore. When the O's moved into that stadium it helped revitalize both the franchise and the Inner Harbor section of B'more.
Posted by: MattR | Aug 11, 2005 4:06:41 PM
And, as almost any independent analysis has shown, whatever Camden did for the inner harbor, it demolished elsewhere in the city.
Also, Ez, don't forget. The NFL is doing fine without a team in LA, and I believe it keeps one out of there to use LA as a hammer on the Nashvilles and KC's of the world.
Posted by: Jim Madison's Dog | Aug 11, 2005 4:56:16 PM
Jim -- That last bit's exactly right.
Posted by: Ezra Klein | Aug 11, 2005 8:08:52 PM
If only the state of Louisiana felt the same way you do. I love the Saints--grew up watching them, and have suffered lo these many years--but what Tom Benson is doing to the state, a state with a tax base for shit and with huge gaping social needs, is criminal. I'm at the point where I'm ready to tell Benson to take his team and go, if it means Louisiana can use some of that tax money for something else.
And I don't even live there anymore--that's the worst part I think.
Posted by: Incertus | Aug 12, 2005 2:34:42 AM
Incertus - I gotta say as a native of N.O. the Benson is the worst owner - and I don't live there anymore either! One one hand I want the to tell him to "fly a kite" (but obviously strong language that I wouldn't want to use here) but on the other I like that the city has a pro team.
Of course now I live in D.C. and have to put up with MLB backmail for the Nationals.
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