There are days when I feel like things are getting better. Days where I get calls from daily newspaper journalists asking intelligent questions about stadium financing, where elected officials actually make some substantive demands of team owners, recognizing that they, too, have leverage. Days where it seems like 17 years of writing about this crap hasn’t been entirely for naught.
And then there are days like today. First up, from an article on something called San Jose Inside, by Rich Robinson, a “political consultant in Silicon Valley”:
While the NHL lockout allegedly hurts owners and players, the real victims are businesses in or around arenas. Small businesses that cater to fans and are dependent on the league don’t have the luxury of losing over a billion dollars on principle…
These businesses are not hobbies or philanthropic endeavors. Few will retire after four years of labor. For them, hockey really does matter. And it is for this reason the lockout must end.
I appreciate that Robinson is probably a hockey fan, and so probably fed up with the comical non-negotiations that have the NHL barreling toward its second canceled season in the last nine years. (Even if the rest of us are finding it endlessly entertaining.) But we’ve covered this before, as have others: Just because people aren’t going to San Jose Sharks games doesn’t mean they’re not going out to eat or otherwise spending money. In fact, in all likelihood businesses in San Jose not near the arena are seeing at least a minor windfall of customers as local residents try to figure out what to do with all that refunded ticket money that’s burning a hole in their pockets — just like the Toronto comedy club owner who, during the MLB baseball strike, quipped, “We really feel it would be in the best interest of entertainment in Toronto if the hockey players sat out the whole season too.”
Moving on, we have the alleged journalism enterprise Bleacher Report, which today sees its AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen proclaim that the Oakland Raiders really really need a new stadium because:
A new stadium does wonders for a team’s value by drastically increasing revenue. The Raiders have a revenue problem which can’t be sustained long-term. If the Raiders don’t get a new stadium soon, Mark Davis could be forced to cut back on expenses or sell the team.
Where to begin? Perhaps with the fact that yes, stadiums bring in more revenue, but they also come with additional costs, namely about a billion dollars to put one of them up. That’ll cut into your drastically increased revenue pretty fast, unless you get somebody else (i.e., taxpayers) to pay for it. As for Mark Davis having to cut corners or sell the team, according to Forbes, yes, the Raiders are one of the less-valuable teams in the NFL, but they’re still turning a profit ($23 million last year). So Davis would be selling the team … what, in a huff because he’s not making enough money? Actually, wouldn’t it be more likely that he’d sell the teamafter getting a stadium deal, since he’d be selling high? Don’t any editors at Bleacher Report actually read these things before they’re posted? (Don’t answer that.)
Meanwhile, the Bleacher Report piece links to a Bloomberg News report that notes that Oakland fired a quarter of its police force last year to save money, but still made good on the $17.3 million a year it’s obligated to pay off each year on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum that induced the Raiders to return to town. You’d think this would be a pretty good cautionary tale of why not to devote scarce city resources to a sports team that only plays 10 games a year in town, but not if you’re Raiders CEO Amy Trask:
“The 1995 deal didn’t work from a financial perspective for any party to the deal — city, county or Raiders,” says Amy Trask, chief executive officer of the Raiders. “That shouldn’t stop us from trying to reach a deal that works for everyone.”
Really, trust her, this time it’ll totally work. You don’t want anyone to think you’ve lost your ability to believe in people, do you?