Don’t fall for the stadium okey doke!
The City of Los Angeles has agreed to provide funding for a new football stadium, pending the NFL moving a team there. The NFL has been dying to move a team there ever since the Raiders and Rams left town, and so have city leaders. The problem has been that the people in the city haven’t shown the same enthusiasm. The two teams left due to stadium issues, but there were attendance problems as well. L.A. fans are notorious for their casual attitude towards game attendance, and in the NFL failure to sell out your stadium results in home blackouts. Now the two teams weren’t doing very well on the field at the time, but a city as large as L.A. should be able to maintain a filled stadium during the lean years.
So why is the league so adamant about going there? A few reasons: (1) getting the Super Bowl to L.A., (2) getting a team in such a large market means more television money, (3) L.A. has been used to hold other cities hostage when they try to get their own new stadium. None of those are about meeting a fan demand for a football team in that city. Think about reason number three for a minute. L.A. has been like the high profile political celebrity who constantly hangs out the idea of running for president so they can maintain their speaking fees and book deals. As long as the possibility exists that your cities’ football team might move to L.A., it can hold up your city for a new stadium at your expense.
And the stadiums never deliver as promised. There have been countless studies performed by groups of all political stripes that have made clear that all the promises of economic growth are pretty hollow. Big events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl succeed in crowding out people who would normally be visiting the host city and spending their money there, and if the city is lucky they will replace the usual tourist money with Super Bowl money. Likewise, the businesses that may come up around the new stadium don’t bring any new money to the area; instead they just collect money that was already being spent locally in other establishments (the restaurant next to the stadium is merely replacing the restaurant a few blocks away). You get held up for millions, sometimes billions, of dollars and the return on your investment is usually zero. The only studies that say otherwise tend to be ones that are commissioned by the teams themselves. And you just know you can trust those, right?
Now I’ve dealt with this topic before, but it’s worth bringing back up in light of the L.A. stadium agreement, as well as all the poverty crying by the owners during the lockouts. The stadium situation is just one way that the owners get over on all of us while they swear they are one big player contract away from bankruptcy. Don’t fall for the okey doke, people. We don’t have to stand for this.