Allow me to draw attention to Bill Simmons, sports writer. He notes that home teams that have built state of the art stadiums with several huge luxury suites have lost home field advantage. In other words, home teams are losing or failing to cover the spread. In particular I liked this passage:

At 12:30 p.m., they packed everything up and headed toward the field, where they sat on freezing-cold aluminum bleachers in a lovable cesspool called Foxboro Stadium and cheered their crummy team.

And you know what? They loved it. They were part of something. When Gillette Stadium opened eight months after New England’s first Super Bowl title, the boys reacted like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” right after his rescue, when he’s wandering around an empty hotel room after the “Welcome Back!” party, looking at the high-rise tray of fresh seafood and wondering what the hell just happened. Suddenly, it was harder to get there and harder to park. Many die-hards were nudged to the third level of the stadium, with their noise drifting toward the sky instead of the field. The lower seats and suites were dominated by some die-hards and an inordinate amount of laid-back, well-connected fans who weren’t exactly painting their faces before games.

The chasm between the “haves” and the “have-nots” was jarring.

In the piece, Bill mentions there is talk of the Buffalo Bills forcing the hand of the city to pony up for a new state of the art stadium, and the city, understandably, is balking. Buffalo has attempted to emulate Green Bay, in which the city of Green Bay sold shares to purchase a football team. Over 100,000 individuals own shares in the Packers, and each individual has a limited number of shares.
New rules of the NFL basically block the acquisition of a team by public shareholders in this fashion. The problem facing Buffalo is an important one that extends far beyond sports. Self described conservatives and sports fans need to ask which side of the Buffalo bills saga do they support. There are three options.

The purist, like me, says, Buffalo should let them go to Toronto, they should not be held hostage by this team and build the stadium to enrich the owners on the backs of the taxpayer, which usually means the city issues bonds and the revenue is covered by $7 Sprite.

The corporate welfare crowd cares little about sports and thinks luxury suites are the only way to watch a football game, they like to take clients to the games and show off how rich they are. Here in Houston you have the ideal situation for an owner, the seats fill up and he doesn’t win any games. The money keeps coming in and he doesn’t have to life a finger. Of course they would want Buffalo to issue bonds to build a new stadium, besides investing in infrastructure is a stimulus to the economy, or haven’t you heard?

Then, you have the socialist, who thinks the Green Bay model is more equitable, and that people who care about sports and have pride in their town should be able to have seats from which they can watch the game, and have their voices heard.

Now, if there were enough purists the owners couldn’t have these bidding wars between cities to sock it to local taxpayers. Because of the rules set down by the NFL, Buffalo couldn’t buy their team, and the owner is selling out to Toronto. So, the socialist option is off the table, and the only option any town has is to build new stadiums whether they like it or not, depending on the whims of disloyal owners. As an economic purist, I don’t support socializing a sport team, but the days of citizens being held captive by sports teams should be numbered. As an American, I think local citizens should have the right to vote on whether to purchase a sports franchise rather than be held hostage by rich owners.

As I mentioned before, this has implications beyond sports.

If people are pissed at bankers, how long will they tolerate pampered athletes throwing up gang signs, starting melees, and getting arrested? The NHL is already a dead man walking, and the credibility and pocketbook of the NBA is starting to hurt this year. Moreover, if people are willing to brew their own coffee instead of going to Starbucks, how many, like Bug, are just going to sit at home and watch the game on TV? Or maybe, I don’t know, play a sport instead of watching one?

The next bubble to burst: Sports Welfare
Tagged on:             

One thought on “The next bubble to burst: Sports Welfare

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *