NFL could build L.A. stadium itself, charge team owner fees, and wait, how does this solve anything?

Sunday’s L.A. Times had a completely unsourced (unless you count a single quote from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft) article speculating that the NFL could break the football logjam in Los Angeles by just building a stadium with its own money, then renting it to an NFL team. This could work, writes the Times’ Sam Farmer, in either of two ways:

  • The NFL pays for building the stadium, then earns its money back via a hefty “relocation fee” for whichever team moves in.
  • The NFL pays for building the stadium, then reimburses itself by selling naming rights, PSLs, and other goodies associated with the new building.

I’m sure you see the problem here: In the first case, any owner wishing to move to L.A. would effectively end up paying the cost of the new stadium, just funneled through the NFL. In the second, the owner would get a new stadium more or less free — but without the big revenues associated with a new stadium, which is the whole point of wanting one.

Now, paying for new NFL stadiums with PSL and naming rights revenue can work in certain situations — we’ve seen that with the San Francisco 49ers‘ Santa Clara stadium. But the 49ers had a strong incentive to remain in the Bay Area (since it’s where their fans already are), and the South Bay is an exceptionally lucrative market, and the 49ers are an exceptionally popular team, all of which makes for exceptionally big money from PSL sales. For other team owners, giving up either wads of cash or piles of future revenue streams to move to L.A. isn’t likely to seem too enticing when there’s still a chance of getting significant stadium subsidies out of their current home markets.

Really, NFL financing has the same problem as the developer-led stadium plans: Somebody has to pay the cost of a $1 billion stadium, and there’s only so much money to go around to pay construction costs and boost an owners’ profits. The only way this would be a game-changing option would be if the NFL decided it so wants to have a team in L.A. that it’s willing to take a loss on a stadium in order to get it done — but given that market size doesn’t matter much in football, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

The other possibility, of course, is that somebody leaked this “hey, we could build a stadium!” line to Farmer in an attempt to drum up articles making an L.A. stadium seem more feasible, thus putting perceived teeth into NFL teams’ move threats in order to get stadium cash out of their own cities. But naaaaah. The NFL would never be that Machiavellian, right?

 

AEG still insisting it may build L.A. stadium, someday, maybe

AEG’s Los Angeles football stadium plans may have been going nowhere fast even before owner Philip Anschutz put the company up for sale and then took it back off the market but booted stadium czar Tim Leiweke, who ended up running the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ parent company, but that doesn’t mean they’re giving up on building a new stadium for no NFL team in in particular:

Even though the NFL appears to have little interest in coming to Los Angeles, AEG’s plans for a stadium are still in play, said Ted Tanner, the company’s vice president.

Addressing a Los Angeles Convention Center panel last week, Tanner presented updated renderings for Farmers Field, the proposed 78,000-seat downtown stadium, to a group of commissioners and officials.

I guess anything is possible, but given that lately more talk has focused on other sites in L.A., this seems more like a pro forma effort to keep AEG’s stadium plans alive on the back burner, at least. But why the announcement now?

The City Council in 2012 approved the stadium deal, but the AEG rights expire in October. Asked if AEG would seek to extend the contract, Tanner said it was too early to say, though others with the company say it is likely it will seek additional time.

Yeah, that’ll do it. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Keeping Our Development Options Open Field!

Hey, everybody, it’s time to write about how L.A. still doesn’t have an NFL team again!

The Los Angeles Daily News has a long article about the fight to get an NFL team back in Los Angeles, but I’ll spare you reading all of it except the most important bit:

What the heck is going on and how closer are we today to enticing the NFL back to Los Angeles than we were a year or even six months ago?

The answer is difficult to gauge.

Sports columnist Vincent Bonsignore goes on for another 986 words, but doesn’t get any closer to gauging it. The life of a sports columnist, people.

Industry to spend $172m prepping land for nonexistent NFL stadium

Industry, California’s football stadium plan may still make smoke and mirrors look solid by comparison, but that’s not going to stop the city from spending $172 million on preparing the land and building infrastructure for it regardless, with work possibly starting as soon as this January. Because apparently according to the lease that Majestic Realty developer Ed Roski signed with the city back in so-long-ago-I-can’t-even-Google-it (2008, maybe? did the web even exist then?), in exchange for a share of the profits from the whatever it is that Roski builds there, the city has to pay for land prep and infrastructure, out of funds from the local Regional Development Authority that was officially abolished in 2011, but which is still committed to paying out on projects that were approved prior to then.

“Under that lease, there is an obligation to put in the infrastructure,” Industry city manager Kevin Radecki told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “At a certain point, [the developer] will have to decide which direction they want to go.”

On the bright side, Industry barely has any residents — it was incorporated by a bunch of local companies (hence the name) in the 1950s, essentially as a tax dodge — so it’s not like there are schoolkids who are going to go without pencils as a result of this expense. Though given that the state of California has claimed that the money should be theirs since Roski’s plans aren’t yet finalized, you could certainly argue that schoolkids in, say, Oakland are being denied as a result. But it’ll all be worth it when the flying gondalas are ready.

L.A. to look at redoing convention center without stadium attached

In news that should surprise no one, the Los Angeles city council is investigating ways to redevelop the L.A. Convention Center in the event that AEG doesn’t go ahead with its NFL stadium plans. Which now looks pretty likely: Even though AEG owner Philip Anschutz announced earlier this month that he was backing off his planned sale of the company, he also announced that CEO Tim Leiweke, who was spearheading the stadium deal, was leaving the company — according to Forbes, possibly because Leiweke was trying to influence who ended up with the winning bid.

All of which makes for great intrigue, but for now, even though Anschutz says he’s going ahead with the NFL stadium plans, it’s got to be considered on life support. Add in that the NFL has hated the plan all along, and pursuing an independent expansion of the convention center probably makes the most sense — except that that’s probably a terrible idea as well.

Downtown L.A. stadium declared officially dead, unofficially

I’m not actually how to read this, as the official NFL position on AEG’s downtown Los Angeles stadium plan has been that they’ve hated it for a year and a half now, but: Yahoo! Sports is reporting that two “sources” (one of them a “league source”) are saying that the AEG plan is dead as far as the league is concerned, as “Unofficially, the NFL believes that the cost of the AEG plan, which the league believes will be at least $1.8 billion, will make it unworkable”:

“The numbers just don’t work, no matter how you look at the deal,” a league source said in February. “It’s either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can’t see a way for it to work.”

Again, nothing really new, except that the NFL is now sending off-the-record staffers to leak the word that really, it’s time to move on to other L.A. stadium proposals. Not to mention a decidedly on-the-record Marc Ganis, the NFL consultant who might as well be a league source, who pointedly told Yahoo!: “The focus on the sale of AEG has stalled the chance for people in the area to view potential other sites and opportunities. … If Los Angeles leaders don’t move on to look at other options it will only delay the return of the NFL to Los Angeles further, possibly even years longer.”

This might be a reasonable ploy to get L.A. moving on some other stadium possibilities — or at least vague rumors of possibilities — but it’s terrible timing for the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and any other NFL teams I may have left out that are currently using the “L.A. has a stadium deal ready to go!” threat to try to extract money from their current hometowns for new or renovated stadiums. I was just telling a reporter yesterday that these teams are all scrambling for stadium funds now because they have a limited window to use the L.A. threat before it either falls apart or somebody else moves there first; it looks like that window may have just begun to slide shut.

 

NFL, Dodgers have “had talks” about football stadium at Chavez Ravine

Stop the presses!

Dan Kaplan of Sports Business Daily reported Monday that the [NFL] has had direct talks with [Los Angeles] Dodgers owner Guggenheim Partners about the possibility of a football stadium at Chavez Ravine, a concept that has been floated since the mid-1990s, when Peter O’Malley pushed to bring the NFL there.

All that remains to be done, writes the L.A. Times’ Sam Farmer: figure out a way to get ex-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who is 50% owner of the Dodger Stadium parking lots, to go along with a new stadium deal; start a new round of environmental impact statements; figure out whether the Dodgers would stay put or move to a new stadium on the proposed downtown site near the convention center; and wait to find out who AEG, which has proposed the downtown stadium, is ever being sold. And something else that Farmer doesn’t mention, let’s see … oh right, who on earth is going to pay for this dang thing.

All items to keep in mind before the next article alleging that other NFL teams are set to move to L.A. if they can’t extract new stadiums from their current home towns. Crap, too late.

 

Your morning great big ball of stadium stupid

I’ve never actually heard of Pacific Standard magazine — apparently until recently it was called Miller-McCune, which I’ve also never heard of — but if this infographic is what it has to offer, then I hope I never heard of it again. Ostensibly an explanation of how to “help a Los Angeles [NFL] stadium buck the trend” of stadium projects, you know, sucking for the cities that build them, it ends up combining the interactivity of a bad Flash game with the informativeness of a USA Today charticle. Among the things readers will learn from PS:

  • On the “best to worst subsidies” graph (most of which consists of a graphic that looks to have been lifted from one of these), it says that “Public financing accounted for 50 percent of the new Lucas Oil Stadium [in Indianapolis], offset by taxes on hotels, rental cars, restaurants, and sales of Colts license plates.” Um, no.
  • The “Making It Work” chart, once you’ve scrolled over little gratuitous circles to see what the chart actually says, suggests “folding in concessions and entertainment” uses for a sports facility, pointing to the “apartments and office space” of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center as an example. Exempt that none of the apartments have broken ground yet, and the office tower was scrapped four years ago.
  • There’s a map of the U.S. with little colored markers indicating how much public funding various stadiums have received, which would be cute, except that tons of buildings are left out (where’s the Seattle Seahawks‘ stadium, for one?) and that the figures are drawn from some wildly inaccurate source (Citi Field, for example, is listed as 19% publicly funded, which really, not.)

On the marginally less stupid front, meanwhile, let’s turn to Bill Parker of DRays Bay, who has penned an essay about the Tampa Bay Rays‘ stadium campaign that, like Pacific Standard’s infographic, starts by acknowledging that stadium deals are almost always terrible for the public before asking, gee, can we get one of them here?

I think that on some level, by now, virtually every governor, city council and county board of commissioners recognizes that it’s a bad deal. Yet, they continue to happen because there’s the fear that the team will bolt to another location, and no politician wants to be the one who was stuck in office when the team left town (which is a bad thing for real-world reasons, too; the teams do provide jobs, even if it’s a low number for their revenue brackets, and tend to have pretty active local charity arms). It’s in everyone’s collective interest to simply agree to stop doing these deals, but individual actors (cities, in this case) often have their own reasons to ignore the common good and do it anyway.

And so this keeps happening. But can it happen in Tampa or St. Pete?

Parker actually kind of punts on whether he’s rooting for it to happen there (he says as a Minnesotan, he loves the Twins’ new ballpark, but hates its public subsidies), but the upshot of the article remains the same: Stadium deals are almost always ripoffs, but never mind that, what are the odds of this one going through? Which neatly achieves the goal of stadium seekers: shift the terms of the debate from “Should we build a stadium?” to “How should we build a stadium?” Because everyone agrees that whatever it costs, the Rays totally neeeeeeeeeeeed a new stadium. (Quiet, you.)

Pasadena council approves talking about renting Rose Bowl to imaginary NFL team

If you were wondering where an NFL team in Los Angeles would play while waiting to move into the new downtown stadium that really doesn’t look like it’s going to get built anytime soon, Pasadena has you covered: The Pasadena city council voted yesterday to allow the Rose Bowl to host an additional 13 games a year if a deal is struck to have an NFL team lodge there temporarily while waiting for a new stadium.

They did so despite more than 100 local residents packing the hearing to complain about the likely traffic and noise impacts, because councilmembers were just so thrilled by the prospect of hosting an NFL team:

“I’m not excited about the NFL, and clearly [the Rose Bowl's neighbors] are not excited, but it’s the responsible thing to do,” Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said.

Okay, actually they were excited at the prospect of an NFL team maybe paying $5-10 million a year in rent, which would help pay off the $195 million in renovation costs Pasadena is looking at for the Rose Bowl. Though given that the city would also need to add extra police on game days, and might need to spend more on amenities to make the Rose Bowl NFL-acceptable, and there’s no guarantee that a team would agree to pay $5-10 million in rent in the first place … well, all that can be worked out if a team decides to move to L.A. and needs a temporary home and decides to negotiate a short-term lease with Pasadena. All the city has done at this point is metaphorically hung out a “Have stadium, will rent to NFL for food” sign — which was instantly metaphorically defaced by local residents. And a Happy Thanksgiving was had by all…