Instead of stadiums, should cities be buying teams?

There’s other stadium reporting today, but it’s all non-news: MLS still needs to pick which Minneapolis ownership group, if either, will get picked for an expansion franchise; Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk still wants a new downtown arena to replace his 19-year-old non-downtown one; David Beckham still hasn’t gotten an MLS stadium in Miami. It’s what you write about when you’re a sports journalist and it’s a holiday week: Big “explainers” recapping everything everybody already knew, except in one place.

Or, if you’re me, you take the lull in breaking news to write about bigger questions, like why cities are putting up so much money for stadium and arena cosntruction when often they could buy the team outright for less. That’s a link there, to Vice Sports; go read it now before something important happens and we don’t have time to think about such matters.

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The week that Newt Gingrich called for non-profit sports team ownership

And then there’s this:

Yes, that’s the Newt Gingrich, not Fake Newt Gingrich or The Real Newt Gingrich or any of those. Apparently the Donald Sterling scandal was enough to get the guy who thinks that the solution to corporate tax dodging is to lower corporate taxes to a rate they won’t cheat on to decide that for-profit ownership is wrong for the Los Angeles Clippers, because hoops belongs to the people, man. (Though given Gingrich’s past history with not-for-profits, maybe he just means a shell corporation that would pay a local rich guy to run the team.)

Anyway, it all gave ThinkProgress’s Travis Waldron a good opportunity to go on about the benefits of public and not-for-profit ownership of sports teams, which can only be a good thing:

Even if you don’t care how many games the Clippers or any other privately-owned team wins, even if you hate sports, there are benefits to fan ownership. A fan-owned team has direct ties to its community, and so it’s next to impossible that the team could pick up and move to a new city if its current home decides not to give it massive public subsidies for a new stadium. That both avoids the ugly problems that occur whenever cities fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies and keeps teams from playing hop-scotch to new cities. A private owner would have moved the Packers out of Green Bay decades ago. Instead, they remain in a tiny town in Middle-of-Nowhere, Wisconsin.

Of course, the Packers did manage to get Green Bay (actually Brown County) to fork over $295 million in subsidies in 2000 by threatening to play hopscotch to a new city (or to have the NFL force them to move, or something — the threat was never quite clear), so it’s not a perfect point. But still, public ownership does have its benefits.

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