Will the NFL come to Los Angeles?

March 8, 2013

In previous posts over the last few years, there has been discussion on this blog about whether the NFL would finally place a franchise in Los Angeles.  Things seemed to be getting close in the last year, as Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) supposedly secure most of the backing and agreements needed to build Farmers Field in downtown L.A., next to the Staples Center (another AEG owned facility).  The picture grew a little more cloudy when AEG said that they were going to sell off their Los Angeles based organization, allowing another investor to take over.  Now there is downright chaos as it seems more conditions are on the plate for AEG, and there is also question of whether AEG has been following the proper timeline.

Amongst the discussion, is the NFL wanting a team to come to L.A. before Farmers Field is built.  That would mean a franchise would need to relocate first, and then attempt to build a new facility.  What this creates is the situation where a lot of cities may try to keep their teams by offering upgraded/new facilities where they are currently located.  In this way, the team would be guaranteed at least a new stadium.  The move to L.A. no longer seems to make a new stadium a certain thing.  St. Louis and Buffalo had been two franchises that had been considered on the hot seat in regards to having their franchises pulled away to the West Coast.  Now with this news, it may be that the Rams will try to leverage a potential move to get the $700 million in upgrades that St. Louis has supposedly been offering for their stadium.  In this, there is certainly the question of which franchise would move to L.A., or if the NFL wants to keep it open, to continue to pull public subsidies from other cities across the country with the simple threat of “if you don’t give us a stadium, we will move to L.A.”

The second part of the most recent drama is the council that had approved the project had set a timeline two years ago for the Farmers Field project to move ahead.  Currently, it would seem that the project is well off track and may not be allowed to happen at this point.  Part of this deal is that AEG must finish its work on the downtown convention center it is building in L.A. before it can move forward with Farmers Field.  This project is suppose to finish in the Fall of this year, but that is not certain to happen anymore.

Finally, as noted in this article from Yahoo, the NFL doesn’t believe the economics of the stadium will work for AEG.

“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.”

Officially, a league spokesman said Monday that the NFL is still tracking what AEG is trying to do.

“We continue to monitor the AEG situation and remain interested in multiple sites in the Los Angeles area,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.

Sounds to me like an NFL franchise is a long way from calling downtown Los Angeles home.

Hat-tip(H/T) to my students in my sports economics class who brought up this news during our discussion on stadium subsidies today.

Los Angeles will get a football stadium, but will they get a team?

September 29, 2012

Los Angeles City Council has given approval for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to build a $1.2 billion football stadium in downtown LA, next to the Staples Center which is also owned by AEG.  What is interesting in this whole process is that I just discussed about a week or two ago that AEG was selling off all of its Los Angeles based business, and this would surely include the football stadium which will be called “Farmer’s Field”.  This may mean that the price for AEG’s Los Angeles operations just went up by several hundred million (or maybe even more than a billion).  As noted in the article listed above, there were many interested parties at the City Council vote, including individuals from Staples Center with “Farmer’s Field” t-shirts, some fans wearing the colors of the old Los Angeles Rams, and other potential interested parties.

Deadspin notes that the San Diego Chargers could have been the ones to move to LA, if the deal had been done sooner, but that is no longer a possibility.  Likewise, the Oakland Raiders are said to not be favored, as the state would not want to fund such a big project just to move a team from one part of the state to another.  That would indicate that the new stadium will be looking for an NFL team from outside of the state.  The Vikings and Jaguars look to be stuck in their current cities for quite a while, so the next choice falls down to the St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills.  Both teams have had troubles drawing fans to games in recent years, and Stanley Kronke (owner of the Rams and Arsenal) would certainly have to consider the possibility of moving the Rams to one of the major markets in the U.S. if St. Louis doesn’t start to helps the Rams out some more.  I’d say Kronke is in a good position to hold St. Louis hostage for some tax money, as he’ll simply just say he will pack the bags and move off to LA if they don’t.

He would not be the first owner to make this threat, and he certainly will not be the last.

I’ve started to get the questions about the economic impact the new stadium will have on Los Angeles.  The answer is a complicated one.  Research shows that facilities don’t necessarily bring big gains to the economies of local regions.  That said, stadiums do bring fans and business to local restaurants, bars, and hotels that are located near a sport facility.  A good discussion of this can be found in the San Jose Mercury News, were professors Roger Noll and Dan Rascher (both very prominent sports economists) discuss the economic impact of the NHL lockout.  Dr. Noll notes that this local business will probably suffer, but not the economy as a whole.  Dr. Rascher adds on that there is some impact for the San Jose with the Sharks not playing, because only 28 percent of those who come to Sharks games live in San Jose.  Considering the size and scope of the Los Angeles area, it is quite possible that you would see similar percentages of out-of-town visitors for Los Angeles NFL games.

So for now, the answer is: we shall see.

Lockouts and Scabs

September 26, 2012

The NHL lockout claimed more victims today, with “just under 20” employees of the St. Louis Blues being laid off by the organization.  Additionally, other employees have taken pay cuts or switching to a four day work week.  Layoffs are spreading around the league, the Florida Panthers even have laid off their mascot.  Some are comforted that Bettman is not taking pay while the league is locked out, but it is important to note that he is the lowest paid commissioner in the major North American sports.  Still he took home close to $8 million in salary last year.

There has been some other news in the NHL, and much of it seems to be coming out of Alberta.  First, the Edmonton Oilers are said to be considering Seattle as a potential site for relocation.  While Bettman and the Edmonton mayor have been telling fans to note worry, it is worth noting that the Oilers owner was in Seattle to talk relocation.  Also coming out of Edmonton is the news that the Oilers and the Calgary Flames are trying to have the lockout ruled as being illegal in the province.  The NHL and NHLPA lawyers have congregated in Alberta, where they are currently arguing in front of the Alberta Labour Board as to whether a lockout is legal by the laws of the province.  It would be curious to see how this turns out.  If the lockout were found to be illegal in Alberta, though a similar motion has already been struck down in Quebec courts.

In other lockout news, the NFL referee lockout is still continuing, and the fans are angry.  Last night in a key final play, the replacement referees seem to have made a mistake which changed the outcome of the game away from the Green Bay Packers to the fortune of the Seattle Seahawks.  Individuals across the country now bemoan the “horrid” refereeing in the NFL, yet they continue to watch the game.  Former 49ers QB Steve Young came out and said that if people are really so angry that they don’t like the product with replacement referees, they should stop watching.  That doesn’t seem to be the case, as ESPN’s Sportscenter scored ratings around a 5.0 for their midnight broadcast.  This is about four to five times higher than the normal viewership during this time period.  It seems that the bad refereeing is almost drawing more attention to the league.

New Jersey state senator Stephen Sweeney isn’t amused by the referees.  He has proposed that New Jersey consider banning replacement referees from working games in the state.  Senator Sweeney is naturally a Packers fan.

Yet here we see government now trying to get more involved in sport, should they not be working on more important things than whether your favorite team had proper officials for their game?

More movement in the LA sports scene

September 19, 2012

Today the Los Angeles Times published an article noting that Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), my former employer, headed by billionaire Phil Anschutz, was looking for someone to buy out the rights to their Los Angeles based sport properties.  Included in this are the Los Angeles Kings of the currently locked out National Hockey League (NHL), the Stapes Center where the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers play (NBA), as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLB).  This move came as a surprise to me, as AEG had long been working towards building a football stadium in Los Angeles in order to attract a National Football League (NFL) team.  As the plans have stalled several times and have moved forward and backward several times, it could be that AEG has finally decided to give up on the project, and abandon all their other Los Angeles projects as well.

At the same time, this is not the first time that AEG has sold off sport properties.  The company was one of the main investors along with Lamar Hunt to help get the MLS started in the 1990’s.  AEG once held the three major market teams in the MLS, the Chicago Fire, Los Angeles Galaxy and New York/New Jersey Metrostars.  Since then they sold of the Chicago Fire, as well as the Metrostars.  The Metrostars were purchased by Red Bull for a price reported around $100 million, which many thought was a great deal for AEG to sell off an MLS franchise at such a high price.  Now it seems that AEG is moving away from the MLS and is selling off a lot of their sport properties.  Additionally, it could be a combination of getting out of soccer while they can, selling off a franchise from a locked out league, and the LA football stadium problems that has pushed them in this direction.

In either case, if AEG does sell of the properties it will be a major change in the LA sports landscape.

Is the NFL in trouble for Collusion?

September 11, 2012

Thursday in a Minneapolis court room, the trial will begin in the case of Reggie White et al., vs NFL which alleges that the NFL owners were colluding to keep salary caps at a certain level, including that the owners had a secret agreement to keep the cap at $123 million a year during 2010 when the league had no salary cap.  The lawsuit alleges that such behavior has existed since the early 1990’s, and argues that owners have been working together to keep salaries low in the league.  The lawsuit indicates that this collusion has cost the players billions of dollars in potential lost revenue over this frame.  People have been discussing that the bounty gate and concussion problems would be the things that really hurt the NFL, but this new lawsuit brings a major issue for the league from a financial standpoint.

MLB owners were found guilty of collusion during parts of the free agency era, and were thus forced to pay back players, so this is not the first time this has potentially happened in North American professional sport.

Sport site Deadspin notes:

The only way to challenge the salary cap punishments now, after they’ve gone through the collectively bargained appeals process, is to “re-interpret” the entire 1993 settlement that allowed for a salary cap in the NFL and punish the owners’ collusion to the tune of $4 billion in damages.

This could mean big problems. NFL owners are probably cringing as the Judge presiding over the trial will be David Doty, a judge who is known for having ruled in favor of the union several times in the past.

You can also read (and download) the lawsuit on another deadspin article here: http://deadspin.com/5912702/

Kansas City teams using taxpayer money to pay for pretty much everything…

August 1, 2012

It is not unusual for professional sport teams to use taxpayer money for upkeep and maintenance of their sport teams.  Well trouble may be brewing in the state I am based in (Missouri) as WHB 810 Sports Radio in Kansas City broke new yesterday that the Kansas City Royals, the cities Major League Baseball Team, is using only a small portion of the tax money they requested for maintenance and repairs.  This isn’t exactly illegal, but the Royals apparently are using only 9% of the $17 million in taxpayer money earmarked for maintenance and upkeep for stadium repairs.  What are they using the money for?  Well, in 2006 an amendment was added to the lease agreement to both the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs (the National Football League team for the city) which allowed them to use this fund to help pay for “game day operations”.  Well the Royals asked for money from the fund to pay salaries of employees ($4 million) and another $700,000 to pay for their taxes.  Both requests were approved, officially making it so that the Royals were paying their taxes with taxpayer money.  The best part?  The reporter from WHB 810 has actually provided with a list of what the Royals asked for and received from this special fund:

Security $287,377
Telephone $83,698
Supplies $657,838
Uniforms $86,301
Salary, Full-Time Associates $975,309
Payroll, Taxes and Benefits-Full Time $365,176
Salary, Full-Time Associates $321,355
Payroll, Taxes and Benefits-Full Time $133,617
Salary, Part-Time Employees $2,618,568
Payroll Taxes-Part Time Employees $200,320
Security    $236,113
Telephone $515,696
Stadium Services $691,322
Professional Services-First Aid $241,931
Utilities, Telephone, Cable TV $2,291,385
Day of Game Security   $247,528

And the Royals aren’t the only game in town, and it is now being noted from a source that the Kansas City Chiefs are doing similar things with the fund.  The Chiefs asked for $27 million, and used only a third of that amount on stadium repairs and upkeep.  It is noted that none of this tax money is allowed to pay for player salaries, but they are being used to cover other salaries of employees, and pretty much everything else.  The Jackson County Sport Complex Authority which approved these funds just sent re-nomination of their current head to Missouri governor Jay Nixon for approval.  Governor Nixon will need to think twice about this as citizens will clearly not be thrilled by this use of tax money.  This will also not improve Royals owner Dan Glass’ standing with the fans of his team.  They already are unhappy with the way the team is run and will not pay for players, now they find operations are being paid with their tax money, this can not go well.

Super Bowl betting revisited

February 5, 2012

The Super Bowl kicks off in about half an hour, and once again millions will place bets on who wins the game, the spread, as well as who will win the opening coin flip.  As I posted last year, the NFC has won the coin toss for 14 years in a row, and some people think this means they should be betting on the AFC to win the coin toss.  However, as we said last year, the coin toss had a 50-50 probability, historically the coin has come up heads 24 times, and tails 21.  Really, there shouldn’t be much money to be made on betting on the coin toss.

Also found this article, which had some wacky additional Super Bowl bets one can make:

  • Will the National Anthem be Over or Under 1 minute, 34 seconds?
  • What will Kelly Clarkson wear to sing the National Anthem – Colts Jersey (7/1), Giants Jersey (15/1), Patriots Jersey (15/1), NFL shirt (2/1) or Anything else (1/3)?
  • Will Kelly Clarkson forget or omit at least 1 word of the official US National Anthem – Yes (2.5/1)?
  • What color will Madonna’s hair be when she begins the Super Bowl Halftime show – Blonde (1/4), Any other color (2.5/1)?
  • Will Madonna be wearing fishnet stockings at any point during the Halftime show – Yes (1/1), No (1/1)?
  • What will Madonna be using to start the Super Bowl Halftime show – Headset (1/3), Handheld Microphone (2/1)?
  • How many times will David Tyree’s 2008 Super Bowl catch be shown on TV during the game – More Than 1.5 or Less Than 1.5?
  • If Tom Brady’s son is shown on TV during the game, will he be wearing a Tom Brady jersey – Yes (1/2), No (1/1)?
  • What color will the Gatorade (or liquid) be that is dumped on the head coach of the winning Super Bowl Team – Clear/Water (3/2), Orange (5/2), Yellow (5/2), Red (13/2), Green (15/2), Blue (10/1)?
  • Who will the Super Bowl MVP of the game thank first – Teammates (5/4), Coach (12/1), Family (15/2), God (4/1), Owner (5/1) or Does Not Thank Anyone (5/2)?
  • Will Kelly Clarkson’s bare belly be showing when she sings the National Anthem – Yes (3/1)?
  • How many times will Giselle Bundchen be shown on TV during the game – More than .5 (1/2) or Less Than .5 (1.2/1)?

Enjoy the game!