Thursday, May 30, 2013

Is the Channelside "Fix" In for Vinik?

Front-and-center in the Tampa Bay Times today were accusations that the fix is in for city leaders to sell Tampa's struggling Channelside entertainment complex to Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik.

The criticisms and complaints come from the two bidders who were rejected by Tampa's Port Authority, which controls the property.  And while Vinik has long been seen as the great hope that could re-ignite the downtown district, he has been quiet on the sidelines for months ever since he "suspended" his frustrating pursuit of Channelside.

That leads the rebuffed bidders to cry foul:
Since the vote, Liberty remained silent — until Wednesday. Govindaraju and Shah told the Tampa Bay Times they don't know why talks that started so well could end so badly.

In hindsight, they now believe the port set them up to fail.

"Based on a mountain of evidence," Shah said, "we don't believe the Tampa Port Authority was negotiating with us in good faith."
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn wasn't quoted in the article, but he is one of the Port Authority's most influential members.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Attendance Watch: Memorial Day Misery

The start to "Rivalry Week" didn't treat the Rays too well yesterday, at least at the gate.  You'd think a Memorial Day matinee would fill the Trop, but it drew just 13,025 against the "arch-enemy" Miami Marlins.

The Rays are now averaging 18,287 fans per game, 1,372 fewer than at the same point last year.  But thanks to the futility in Miami and poor attendance in Cleveland, the Rays are only the third-worst draw in the majors.

However, as bad as the Rays' numbers are, a look around the league yesterday revealed a lot of disappointing holiday crowds. 

Texas at Arizona drew just 23,622.  Atlanta at Toronto drew just 22,808.  Colorado at Houston drew just 16,044.  San Diego at Seattle drew just 18,942.

Heck, even the Yankees at Mets drew 32,911, the smallest crowd the two teams have ever played in front of.

League-wide attendance is only down 3% right now, and you can blame most of it on the Marlins.  But 18 of 30 teams are down from the same point last year, and believe it or not, the Rays may not be in the worst shape of them all:

Top drops
  • MIA -10,986
  • PHI -6,900
  • BOS -4,556
  • CHC -4,280
  • MIN -4,253
  • HOU -4,237
  • TEX -3,991
  • MIL -3,528
  • NYY -3,173
  • STL -1,423
  • TB -1,372
Top climbs
  • WAS +5,013
  • BAL +5,010
  • LAD +4,201
  • CIN +3,365
  • TOR +3,237


Monday, May 27, 2013

Sports Leagues as Command Economies, Not Market Economies

I wish I had seen this brilliant post from the Freakonomics guys prior to my post about the NBA's Seattle shenanigans.  While I explained how the NBA was essentially asserting its monopolistic powers over the free market, Dave Berri puts it in better - albiet nerdier - terms:
Unfortunately, Seattle learned this past week that the NBA doesn’t quite follow the rules of a market economy. For Seattle to get the Kings, the other 29 owners had to approve the deal. And when the dust settled, a majority of those owners thought an inferior bid from another group that wanted to keep the team in Sacramento was preferred. Consequently, Seattle has been frustrated again.
Here is how Ira Boudway of Bloomberg BusinessWeek described the owners’ motivation.
More than anything else, the Sacramento saga is about public funding for arenas. The NBA, like the NFL and MLB, wants to reward cities that help pay and punish those that don’t. Seattle lost its team in 2008 because it refused. When Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson came up with a promise to secure $258 million in public funds for a new arena, the league felt bound to keep up its end of the deal. “You’ve got to match the offer, have a building, and get a good ownership group that can make it happen, and it happened,” Commissioner David Stern said at the press conference yesterday. The Kings, of course, already have a building. Stern meant a new building, replete with lots of luxury boxes subsidized by taxpayers.
So the NBA, according to Boudway, chose the Sacramento offer because it wishes to continue the flow of public funds to the NBA. As Robert Baade and Victor Matheson note, in the past 20 years we have seen more than $3 billion of public money spent on NBA arenas.
Berri goes on to explain how the highly-regulated league is really a command economy.  And that, according to the WiseGEEK website, defies the balance of supply/demand as well as the will of the producers (athletes) and consumers (sports fans).

Tampa Bay Sports Commission Launches Event Incubator

The Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the public-private agency tasked primarily with landing big sporting events such as Super Bowls, NCAA championships, and large youth tournaments, is launching a first-of-its-kind "sports event incubator," according to Chris Wilkerson from the Tampa Bay Business Journal:
“There was no fertile ground in which these event ideas could come to fruition,” said Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins. His team created the EDI to give upstart sports event planners an opportunity to meet all of the industries they would need to put on an event all in one incubation space.
Higgins has secured agreements with Tampa Bay-based companies in the hospitality industry that can help incubate events – from legal services, finance and transportation to social media and registration technology companies.
The EDI will treat sports events like children’s triathlons, soccer tournaments and other competitions as if they are start-up companies.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fla. Cities Fearing Side Effects of Spring Subsidies

Echoing a Shadow of the Stadium post from a few months back, the News Service of Florida reports local leaders are starting to panic about the unintended consequences (or intended, depending on whom you ask) of Florida's new laws making it easier for baseball teams to get publicly-paid spring training stadiums.

What else did you expect?
"I know the state wants to keep spring training teams here in the state, but when you look at it from purely a local level, we want to keep that team here in our community. They've been here for a long time," [Dunedin Chamber of Commerce President Lynn] Wargo said. "The Jays are only a few blocks out of our downtown. When there is a game here, the town is packed; the businesses are packed; the restaurants are packed."

Similar concerns have been expressed in Melbourne and Kissimmee, where moves by teams have been seen as more inevitable.

Brevard County Commission Chairman Andy Anderson has said the law will create a "free-for-all."
Basically, the state of Florida is now bankrolling a silent auction between its cities (just what the blueprint calls for).

Florida taxpayers will eventually spend hundreds of millions of dollars for new spring stadiums for teams like the Blue Jays and Nationals that would have never left the Grapefruit League anyway.  Not to mention MLB teams don't exactly need handouts these days.  Not to mention the state already has empty spring training stadiums looking for teams.

Sure, fans will get some new stadiums to enjoy.  But let's not pretend tourism numbers are going to explode when the Astros get a new stadium.  And let's not forget Gov. Rick Scott could have prevented these businesses teams from playing the Arizona card for a lot less money if he really wanted.

UPDATE: The Cardinal Nation Blog points out Florida spent $43 million on spring training retention since 2010, but three of the teams have already moved, two of them to Arizona

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Buckhorn Throws Out First Pitch, Some Stadium Optimism

“I get a sense that, perhaps over the summer, there may be some movement,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times Friday night. “I don’t know what it’ll be. But I think everyone recognizes that the status quo is not an answer.”

The mayor was throwing out the first pitch at Tropicana Field for a second time in three seasons, while St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who has to run for re-election this year and has butted heads with the Rays' brass, has thown out zero first pitches.

The Times continues:
Buckhorn made it clear he’s not going to “get in the middle,” saying he respects the position St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is in and how much of an investment the citizens of St. Petersburg have made to the facility. Foster has said they’ve been trying to find a “middle ground” with the Rays, who have a lease at the Trop until 2027 but want to explore potential stadium sites outside of the city. Buckhorn said there “needs to be options because this is not going until 2027. It’s just not.”
“We don’t want to lose them,” Buckhorn said. “This is our team. This isn’t Charlotte’s team, this is not Las Vegas’ team, and this team deserves the best efforts to find a way to make sure that they stay.”
Fortunately, Charlotte just gave all of its available cash to the Panthers and Vegas will never get a major-league venue built.

But that, of course, just means that there's no rush for progress in Tampa Bay.  Which isn't a good thing if you're as frustrated as Buckhorn with the Stadium Saga.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Another Buckhorn Pitch for Rays

According to his public calendar, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will throw out the first pitch during Friday night's Rays/Yankees game at The Trop.  That will be the second time Buckhorn has received the honor in the last 24 months (St. Pete's Mayor Foster=0).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sorry Florida, You Must Learn Your (Super Bowl) Lesson

Sorry Florida, you must learn your lesson.

That's the message from NFL owners this afternoon, who awarded the next two Super Bowls to Santa Clara, Calif., and Houston, respectively.

It was pretty clear Miami would have landed one of the games had the legislature played ball with stadium renovations, but once the bid was shot down, the writing was on the wall.

Unfortunately for Tampa, Raymond James Stadium may become a victim of the stadium silliness and get shut out of games as well until the legislature gives in to NFL demands.

And with Atlanta getting a new stadium soon, as well as eventual Miami renovations down the road, Tampa may be playing an awfully long waiting that might even lead to the league "suggesting" the region rehab RayJay if it wants another Super Bowl?

Minnesota Pushes for More Electoric Gambling to Pay for Stadium

Move over, Crystal Pepsi and George Bush's "Mission Accomplished" banner - you have a new counterpart in the Hall of Awful Ideas.

Because Minnesota's new e-gambling isn't generating enough revenue to pay for the new Vikings Stadium and the stadium isn't supposed to cost any general revenue dollars, the state is turning to Plan B: a statewide tour encouraging more gambling!

The money won't just benefit a stadium; e-gambling benefits charities too.  That's why the nine-city tour will be under the umbrella of Allied Charities.

I know what you're thinking.  Why push Minnesoteans to gamble more so you can pay for a new stadium when you could just charge the sports fans who go via a ticket tax?  Or all Minnesoteans via a small tax increase?

However, I have a better question: how ironic is it that Minnesota is encouraging more "e-gambling" via the Allied Charities when a group called the Allied Veterans (no relation) was busted in Florida for taking advantage of charity e-gambling?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Marlins, Rays Attendance Watch - May 19 Update

Two weeks ago, this blog pointed out that the Rays' modest fortunes in the attendance rankings may only be a mid-week series against Toronto away from collapse.  Well, that was a bad series at the gates.  And so was the ensuing weekend series against Boston.

The Rays' average attendance has fallen to just 17,936 per game - a couple hundred fewer than the miserable Marlins, who are 28th in the majors, and just 2,200 fans per game more than the last-placed Indians.

Believe it or not, the Indians are actually up from last year, and you can probably expect a much better summer in Cleveland.

But the Rays are now down 2,583 fans per game compared to the same time last year.

As for the Marlins, they're down to 18,109 fans per game - more than 10,000 fewer than last year's average at this point and - as Maury Brown tweeted - 453 fewer fans per game than they averaged in their final year of Sun Life Stadium!  Those numbers may rebound once the Miami Heat are all done, but fall and football season never treat MLB particularly well in Florida.

Either way, it's just not a good time to be a MLB ticket agent in the Sunshine State.

PS - It's also not a good time to be a contractor waiting for work on Sun Life Stadium.  Not only did the legislature deny Miami-Dade a chance to hold a stadium subsidy referendum, but early vote returns on the cancelled election indicate the team never had support for bed tax-funded renovations, despite what Governor Rick Scott would have liked to see.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sen. McCain Wants to Buck NFL Blackouts

Creative Loafing's Mitch Perry and the Los Angeles Times report that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is pushing for new legislation to ban blackouts in NFL stadiums subsidized with public dollars.  The "Maverick" of Capital Hill is ironically floating an idea we heard last year from the "Maverick" of the Florida Legislature, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey:
According to the Los Angeles Times:
McCain's bill also calls for elimination of the sports blackout rule which prohibits a local TV station from showing an NFL game that is going on in its market if the event is not sold out. McCain wants to gut that rule for any team whose stadium was funded with taxpayer dollars.
The blackout is not the paramount measure in McCain's legislation, which is actually about allowing satellite and cable companies to start selling channels on an individual or "a la carte" basis to consumers. McCain says his Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 will "help shift the landscape to benefit television consumers."
For years McCain has blasted the cable companies for charging customers for channels that they never watch. It's called bundling, and the Arizona Senator said on Thursday it's time for content providers to stop charging that way.
"When the venue in which these sporting events take place has been the beneficiary of taxpayer funding, it is unconscionable to deny those taxpayers who paid for it the ability to watch the games on television when they would otherwise be available," McCain said.
For all the criticism about the blackout rule, it should be noted that before Congress intervened in 1973, no NFL home games were broadcast in a local market, regardless of whether the game was sold out or not.
The last time a U.S. Senator tackled the NFL blackout issue, it didn't get very far.  However, the NFL did loosen its blackout policy a (teeny, tiny, miniscule) bit last year.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Report: Gov. Scott Begged on Behalf of Dolphins

We know Florida Governor Rick Scott loves Spring Trianing stadium subsidies, but who knew he loved the idea of handouts for NFL stadiums too?

According to a lobbyist quoted in the Sunshine State News, Scott begged the House Speaker, Will Weatherford, to pass the Sun Life Stadium renovation bill:
“The governor was encouraging the speaker of the House to hear the bill,” Ron Book, one of the state's most influential lobbyists, tells Sunshine State News of a rare visit Scott paid to Weatherford's office on May 2, second-to-last day of session.
“The concept, that because an employer creates jobs they should be subsidized with taxpayer money, is a flawed concept,” (Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami) tells SSN. “Every business, from the one man selling water bottles at the corner of the street to Walt Disney and Publix, they create jobs and they employ people. [Government] should provide a fair tax structure, an educated workforce, and a safe community so that businesses, whatever they are, may be able to prosper.”

Book tells SSN there are no current plans for the stadium funding bill to be revived next session, but that's little comfort to Trujillo, who warns, "They're going to be back; maybe not the Dolphins, but the concept of the taxpayer subsidizing professional sports franchises will come back in one way or another.”

Lay Republican activist Norman Braman -- owner of Braman Honda car dealerships, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, and lead opponent of the stadium bill – sounded more relieved than jubilant over the demise of the legislation, which he condemns as just so much “corporate welfare.”

"It's over, I've got a lot of other things to be concerned with here; I'm not a sore winner,” the successful billionaire who prides himself on never having received, or asked for, a taxpayer subsidy tells SSN. “[The bill's defeat] is a great win for the taxpayers. I don't think the taxpayers win too many these days, but I'm very pleased by it. I think despite some reactions that I have heard in the community, the community's very pleased as well.”

Scott did not come out publicly for or against HB 1828 during the 60-day session, though his advisers did draw up a list of “principles” the bill should comply with in order for the governor to give it his consideration. According to the Tampa Bay Times, that included Dolphins owner Stephen Ross – a multibillionaire and one of the wealthiest men in America – having to match some of the costs of the improvements, the Dolphins themselves funding a study on the economic impact of the improvements, and a requirement that subsidies be approved by local voter referenda.
Weatherford responded by saying he didn't bring the bill to the House floor because it simply didn't have the votes for passage.

Governor Scott, meanwhile, indicated the bill was necessary to bring much-needed Super Bowls back to Florida.

And that's how it goes in the Stadium Game...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hope for New Stadium Fans Everywhere

A glimmer of hope for stadium fans everywhere - jean-maker Levi Strauss will pay $220 million over the next 20 years for naming rights to the 49ers' Santa Clara stadium.

It's one of the largest naming-rights deals ever and, according to the Mercury News, is larger than the naming-rights deals "scored by the San Francisco Giants, Oakland Raiders, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks -- combined."

Unlike many other teams' naming rights deals, 70% of these proceeds will help pay off Santa Clara's $450 million in short-term construction bonds.  Add that to $300 million in seat licenses going toward the city, and Field of Schemes' Neil deMaus gives this stadium subsidy a rare thumbs-up (so far):
"...taxpayers should have their butts mostly covered, anyway, though it’ll likely require selling some 20-year bonds that can raise money now and be paid off over time with the Levi’s boodle.

"So Santa Clara’s big gamble looks to be working out relatively well: If taxpayers do end up on the hook for something toward the stadium costs, it should only be a tiny fraction of the $1.2 billion total construction cost. Which doesn’t necessarily make such a risky maneuver a good idea for other cities — not every team can sell its naming rights for $11 million a year, and Santa Clara got very lucky that the 49ers got good just in time for those PSLs to go on sale — but at least those who were worried this would be a Cincinnati-style taxpayer albatross can breathe a little easier."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Marlins Close off Top Deck

Neil deMaus of Field of Schemes on the Marlins' decision to close its upper deck for some weeknight games:
That’s right: On top of setting a record last year for worst attendance in the first year in a new stadium, and being dead last in the league in attendance in their second year (though three American League teams have even sadder ticket sales, including the second-place Kansas City Royals), now the Marlins are using a cost-saving trick — and no matter what the team says about a “better fan experience,” this is mostly about saving operating costs by shutting down concession stands and restrooms in underused areas — that has previously been used only by teams demanding new stadiums because their old ones are so poorly attended.
He also adds one last link to a Miami Herald article about businesses backing out of deals to open up in the stadium's garage.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Henderson: Free Ride for NFL in Tallahassee is Over

The Tampa Tribune's sports-turned-metro columnist Joe Henderson writes this morning the "free ride for NFL in Tallahassee is over":
The National Football League’s business model basically goes like this: We get all the money and the public pays the bills. I actually have a grudging admiration for the amount of gall it took for the NFL to make that its corporate mission statement.

The basic game plan is to use as many public dollars as possible to build palaces filled with luxury boxes and premium seats priced beyond the range of the average taxpayer. In NFL-speak, this is known as “being competitive.”
The NFL pulled in an estimated $9.5 billion in 2012, including $4 billion from television contracts. That figure will go up to $5 billion annually starting this year through 2021. And as long as we’re being so liberal with “B” words, Forbes estimates the net worth of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross at $3.1 billion.

This is probably a good time to remind everyone how Lightning owner Jeff Vinik paid for the $42 million renovation last year at the Forum. For me, that translates roughly to this: Fix up your own damn stadium, Dolphins.
All of this is a cautionary tale for any plans involving the Tampa Bay Rays and downtown Tampa, or anywhere else in the area. Mind you, I believe Tropicana Field is the worst excuse for a big-league baseball stadium in the country. I also have no idea how to pay for something to replace it.

If what we saw in the Legislature is any indication, though, it probably won’t involve a trip to Tallahassee. That would seem to be a waste of time.
Henderson makes lots of good points, except if there's one thing we should never underestimate, it's the lasting power and popularity of pro sports teams - especially compared to politicians. 

Dolphins' CEO Mike Dee, who criticized House Speaker Will Weatherford and called the team's future in South Florida "clearly bleak," is no stranger to the stadium subsidy game either.  He was the man behind the Red Sox' $99 million, taxpayer-funded spring training stadium in Fort Myers.  And all he had to do was threaten a move (to Sarasota) in 2008, even though the Sox' park in Ft. Myers was just 15 years old at the time.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Marlins, Rays Attendance Watch

One month into the season, the Rays' 21,322 per game average is up a hair (500 fans per game) from last year - good enough for 23rd in the majors.  But we'll see what a mid-week series against Toronto does to that. 

At least Tampa Bay is faring better than the league average in one regard - the majority of teams are posting drops from a year ago, with the average crowd 700 fans per game smaller than in 2012.

The perennially-strong Mariners are struggling.  The surprisingly-successful Royals are struggling.  The Indians are averaging a league-worst 15,167 fans per game.

But no team will face as much scrutiny this year as the Marlins, who are down almost 11,000 fans per game from the first month of 2012.  It's more than a sophomore slump.

In fact, it's everything Maury Brown, of the Business of Baseball, predicted pre-season when he said the Marlins would see the biggest second-season attendance drop in modern stadium history.  Last week, he tweeted:
And today, Brown expanded his thoughts into column form.  He posted a nice chart of all the Selig-era stadium dropoffs from Season 1 to Season 2.  And he actually corrected my fuzzy math, pointing out the Marlins will only break the Rays' '98-'99 dropoff if they draw somewhere in the 17,125 range:
So, it’s very possible the Marlins could end worse than the Rays. It’s early, and anything could happen, but odds are good the Marlins aren’t going to get any better in the standings and Loria certainly didn’t make any extra friends in the offseason.
As of now, the Marlins are averaging just 92 more per game than their last year in Sun Life Stadium that they shared with the Miami Dolphins, was never designed for baseball, and had no roof. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Catching Up on Reading: Dolphins, Falcons, Cubs, and More

Last week, as the sausage factory in Tallahassee cranked out deal after deal, the Miami Dolphins were left sitting on the sidelines, their deal for state stadium subsidies dead.  Now, the team's billionare owner, who is upset at not getting $380 million in tax dollars, is essentially threatening to use his financial and political power to exact revenge on the politicians.  This should be fun to watch.

On the other hand, you've got the Falcons celebrating their stadium deal with pretty pictures.

Forbes has an interesting take on the Cubs' stadium threat, implying the team isn't hurting for money, but the Ricketts family is...because they weren't really rich enough to buy the team in the first place:
But the team’s need for more money is not so much tied to its antiquated ballpark, but rather the huge amount of debt the family used to purchase the team, Wrigley Field and 25% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago for $845 million from the Tribune Co. in 2009. The team still has almost $600 million of debt from the purchase.

The team is highly profitable before debt service, posting operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $32 million in 2012. But that is partly due to Ricketts chopping payroll. This year the Cubs opening day payroll was $104 million, $43 million less than 2010.
It's interesting to see what happens when businessmen buy billion-dollar sports franchises when they don't have the cash to pay for them (right, Glazers?).

My counterparts across town at WFTS took a look at the "dirty dining" at local stadiums.  Looks like eliminating risk of food illnesses remains an issue at Tampa Bay's sports venues, albeit a minor one.  You can see my 2011 story on the topic here.

Finally, Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik is closing his hedge fund to focus on his team and other real estate venutes:
Vinik, whose net worth is estimated at about $500 million, has been particularly active as a real estate investor in Tampa's Channel District. He recently pulled out of a bid to buy and redevelop the troubled entertainment complex known as Channelside Bay Plaza. However, he still controls a large swath of real estate around the Times Forum and could play a pivotal role in downtown Tampa redevelopment. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Should We Even Acknowledge Individual Franchise's Profits/Losses?

Yesterday, we looked at a Slate piece that implied the NBA will continue to use Seattle to blackmail other cities into a variety of concessions (usually arena-related).  But there's another lesson to be learned from the league's rejection of the Kings relocation.

The NBA is basically asserting it is a single business controlling where its 30 franchises operate.  All four of the major leagues have argued this at some point: that they are each one business with 30-some-odd locations, rather than 30+ businesses each that make up a coalition. 

And while the Supreme Court ruled against the NFL's single-entity monopoly in American Needle, Inc. v. NFL), the leagues still essentially operate as monopolies.  It's not like a motivated businessperson could simply start up his/her own big-league franchise and enter the market.

Furthermore, MLB - unlike the NFL, NBA, or NHL - has legal protection as a monopoly in the form of its sacred antitrust exemption.  MLB is a single entity.  Which, should lead us to ask one very important question:

If MLB is a single business and it's raking in record revenues, why should we have sympathy for any individual franchise's finances?  The Rays operate within the MLB business model and their diminutive payroll is a business choice MLB made.

Now, before you start blowing up the comments section, realize we can still have sympathy for the hard-working Rays players who spend half their time in a half-empty dome. 

But the nature of the stadium discussion in Tampa Bay (and elsewhere) shouldn't be about whether the team needs to relocate to survive;  it really is only about whether MLB thinks it could bolster its bottom line by relocating the franchise to another market.

In that context, relocation (and even moreso, contraction) doesn't make a lot of sense for MLB.  And for local municipalities, it may make even less sense to spend huge chunks of public revenue on a profitable corporation that brings in nearly $8 billion annually.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Leagues Still Finding Ways to Blackmail

Following a strong Slate piece about how the NBA wants to keep using Seattle as a stalking horse, The Sports Economist blog expands on a league's need to blackmail cities:
One can see the most obvious example of this in the NFL...the open market in LA just got the normally quite parsimonious citizens of Minnesota to cough up about $500 million for a new Vikings stadium. The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints almost certainly have LA to thanks for their new or upgraded stadiums as well. All in all, LA is probably worth more to the NFL without a team than with a team.
Just ask St. Pete residents what it's like to help build new stadiums for the White Sox, Giants, and Mariners.

Just ask Jerry Reinsdorf or Peter Gammons, who have touted how blackmail and leverage get MLB stadiums built.

Or just ask the Cubs, who are unconvincingly telling Chicago it will "consider a new home" if it can't get its desired renovations at Wrigley (just a couple of years after leveraging Naples for a new $99M stadium in Mesa).

Next post, we'll chat about other lessons learned from the NBA's Seattle situation.