Goodell to Atlanta: No Super Bowl without new stadium

I was asked by a reporter on Friday whether, given the economy and its effects on public treasuries, the push for taxpayer financing for stadiums and arenas wasn’t in the process of fizzling. It’s a question I get a lot lately, and I always have to patiently explain: What, you think just because banks were failing during the Depression that people stopped trying to rob them?

If you need evidence, look no further than Atlanta, where the Falcons are continuing their drive to replace the 18-year-old Georgia Dome on the grounds that, well, it’s 18 years old, and other newer stadiums are newer. Just listen to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explaining on Thursday that he’d be happy to let Atlanta host a Super Bowl, just as soon as it does something about that embarrassing stadium that’s older than Miley Cyrus, fer chrissakes:

“I think this is a great community,” the NFL commissioner said. “But as I mentioned to the people earlier today, the competition for the Super Bowl is really at an all-time high, in a large part because of the new stadiums.

“The provisions that they have for a new stadium in this great community, I think that’s a pretty powerful force. We have a history of going back to communities when they have those new stadiums.”

Backers of the new-stadium plan say that it “won’t cost taxpayers because it will be paid for visitors through the hotel/motel taxes,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Though, of course, there’s still the opportunity cost: If you don’t raise hotel/motel taxes for a stadium, you can do it for something else; or don’t raise them, and allow your local hotels and motels to be more competitive and draw more visitors. The AJC also claims that when Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl in 2000, it “had a reported economic impact of of $292 million,” though other estimates show the city actually losing money.

Noah Pransky at Shadow of the Stadium notes that Goodell’s statement is a classic “non-threat threat,” in the fine tradition of the Vercotti Brothers. Pransky also observes that if the Georgia Dome is being marked for death now, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa could be next:

It seems from the arguments put forth that the Falcons aren’t worried about losing money on their billion-dollar franchise, but simply think they deserve to make more because other teams in the league are making more…

Furthermore, one can only wonder if Goodell will imply Tampa needs a new stadium down the road if it wants to host another Super Bowl. Raymond James Stadium, after all, has 7,000 fewer seats than the Georgia Dome. It opened in 1998, six years after the Georgia Dome, and it will be paid off on Jan. 1, 2027, also six years after the Georgia Dome.

Goodell’s exact words on this subject on Thursday: “The bar has been raised because you’re getting great facilities around the country in great communities.” In other words, every new stadium that opens is an argument for building more new stadiums. Now there’s a business model — at least until you reach the stadium event horizon.

Share this post:

7 comments on “Goodell to Atlanta: No Super Bowl without new stadium

  1. Hmmmn.

    Sounds like an opportunity to call Goodell’s bluff here. If the cities are actually losing money when the superbowl rolls into to town, why not just let other cities bid for it?

    If having a new stadium is the priority, why doesn’t the NFL just schedule all superbowls at the newest stadium (presently Jerry’s place & the Meadowlands, sans roof, of course).

    Now we’re back to the “illusion of demand” that the NFL peddles so well. The NFL makes plenty of money from the SB. I would imagine local hotels and bars do too. But I bet the host cities are generally left with a hefty security bill, lots of empty plastic/paper cups, and a Texas sized economic hangover.

    Once, just once, I’d like the good folk of the city-to-be-exploited-later to say “Ok, Rog, it’s been swell. We’ll watch on tv next year, and you can pay for your own parade”.

  2. Residents of Santa Clara, California:

    Please don’t believe the buzz about the so-called “40-year lease” for the San Francisco 49ers. It will not protect our city from “stadium blackmail” here, either.

    The stadium “Term Sheet” in our ballots back on June 8th? Measure J gave the 49ers the right to determine what it will and will not pay for. That will leave us with “Candlestick South” in 15-20 years.

    When that happens, the 49ers will be extorting a new stadium from us, too. Count on it.

    Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
    Santa Clara Plays


  3. John, Neil, and Bill,
    During the 49ers campaign here in SC, Commissioner Goodell visited, touting the possibility of a SB here if we build a new stadium. The newspapers here ran articles on the hundreds of millions a SB would bring – essentially reproducing the NFL press release without checking any facts – not one paper told the truth about host cities losing money on past Superbowls. So the illusion is one created by the NFL and promoted by the press, without any sense of objectivity or journalistic integrity to tell the economic truth. And the vast majority of voters don’t do any fact checking themselves, or don’t know where to look to check the facts, and aren’t aware that freedom of speech for campaigns means that pro-stadium forces don’t have to tell the truth about the costs or financial risks of a stadium to a host city.

  4. The National Football League has made no commitment of any kind to a Super Bowl in Santa Clara.

    Also, there is no such thing as a “rotation” for Super Bowl siting, and Arthur Blank’s own inability to book his third one in Atlanta is proof of same.

    Finally, contrary to what Commissioner Goodell stated, Super Bowls don’t even guarantee big bucks for host cities. Glendale’s $2.1M loss on SB XLII should be proof enough of that.

    Does anyone even think that Glendale is back in that imaginary “rotation”? Uh-uh.

    The exact words of the NFL when we pointed this out last time were: ‘We invite Santa Clara to submit bids.’

    And that’s all.

    Before making vapor-promises of any Super Bowls, the NFL might want to consider paying for their own stadiums instead of demanding taxpayer dollars for them.

    No Vapor Bowl anywhere in the Bay Area until 49ers and another team (like the Raiders!) agree to a shared stadium. That’s an issue entirely separate from the expiring contract with the NFL Players Association.

    Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
    Santa Clara Plays Fair . org


  5. I’ve seen the comment before that hotel/motel tax puts the burden on out of state visitors. But what portion of hotel stays are actually done by out of staters, as opposed to state residents? With all the events that happen across the state, you’d think that a significant (if not majority) of hotel stays would be from the state, not people spending a night or two in town for a game.

  6. Geoff;

    I believe there are studies that show that hotel stays in major centres are, in the majority, taken by residents of the state and sometimes even “locals” (those from w/in 50 miles for example). What the exact numbers are I don’t know, but I believe Neil has posted links to them on other threads.

    Adding to your point, when all districts use hotel/rental car taxes to partially fund their stadia, the idea that it is ‘someone else’s money’ loses meaning. Unless you never travel on business or pleasure, never rent cars and never stay at hotels, the fact is you will be paying for somebody’s stadium, somewhere. This is true even if you have no interest in sports, or are travelling precisely to protest the allotment of tax dollars to private business, for example.

  7. John,

    That’s a good point you make about hotel tax money. The local Santa Clara hotels would be billing visitors 365 days a year for a stadium that may be used a little as a dozen times.

    Why is this fair and is it a good use of resources? Afterall, the city could impose what the market will bear in hotel taxes and use it for other city purposes, ie, keeping the library open on holiday weekends.

Comments are closed.