16 June 2006

NFL bother

NFL bigwigs, obviously coersion isn't a big issue to you. Mr. (Lame Duck) Tagliabue, why do you have this massive hard-on regarding a team in Los Angeles?

If I'm not wrong, the PEOPLE of New Orleans want the Saints to stay in NO. Also if memory serves me correctly, Los Angeles not only lost one but BOTH of their franchises in the same year due to LA's inability to work with the Rams, coupled with Al Davis' final understanding of why the Rams moved from the Coliseum in the first place (stadium capacity vs. blackout rules). Back in 1995, Tagliabue felt that the Rams organization did not display "good faith" in negoiating with the city of LA. Tagliabue made a strong concerted effort not to move the Rams from LA (and actually had the support of most of the NFL owners at the time). But did the NFL come in and help pay for a new stadium for the Rams, so they could stay in LA? No. So after some threats and no promises, the Rams club was allowed to move.

While the NFL didn't exactly help St. Louis get the team they wanted (they wanted an expansion team that was instead won by Jacksonville) and tried to stop the Rams at every turn, we forward to today to see the NFL is sure making sure that the city of New Orleans DOESN'T get what they already have, and that a city that gave two craps about either of their old teams gets what it doesn't even want to pay for. But that's okay. The NFL is ready to give them money hand-over-fist for this to happen:

"Parks and other defenders of the financing arrangement said the tax dollars would be spent in the surrounding area only because of the stadium construction, and emphasized that no general fund money from the city (of LA) or county would help pay for the stadium. The projected $800-million stadium construction cost would be borne by the NFL."
(emphasis added)

Not only that, but the NFL is trying to coerce the people of Louisiana by stating effectively, we'll help pay for repairs to the Superdome to the tune of $20 mil if you reduce your "exit fee" rule by "$15 or 20 million". Or to rephrase, "We'll pay you $20 million so we can turn (you) around and buy Benson a golden(-plated) boot to shove up your..."

And it's ironic that the Rams threat to sue back in the early '90s has made it impossible to stop an owner from moving a team today. It's strange how these things come around. First in Baltimore we had Irsay rip a team from a city, only to find Baltimore on the receiving end of a similar collusion. Now we have LA courting Benson who will likely try to use threat of a lawsuit as leverage to move the Saints (only this time against Louisiana), much like Frontiere threatened the NFL when they attempted to block her from moving the team from LA.

It's no secret that Tagliabue has wanted a team in LA forever. What really puzzles me is why he just didn't decide to expand there instead of Houston. He's had opportunities to get a team there. But the real question is: does LA even care? Some (myself included) think the answer is no. But who am I kidding? This isn't about a city of fans. It's about a city of MONEY.

And there is one other option.


At 10:57 AM, Blogger Laddi said...

By the way, equally as bad as the way this is being handled, I don't like the idea of the NFL expanding beyond 32 teams. I'd be more supportive of *contracting* teams in the league, sloughing off 4 teams, than expanding the league.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Dante said...

I can certainly see why the NFL wants an LA team. It is the second largest market in the country. And it's not like they aren't a pro sports town. The Lakers do just fine there. So do the Kings and even the Clippers. And for what it's worth, one NFL team in LA worked out just fine. It wasn't until there were two NFL teams in LA that problems started to arise and both teams eventually wanted out.

I'm sure the people of New Orleans want the team to stay. It's not like Baltimore fans wanted their team to go to Indy or Cleveland fans wanted their team moved to Baltimore. That's irrelevant though. What really matters is if the owner wants the team to move. Sure this year there's a jump in season ticket sales for NO but how long is that going to last? About as long as it takes them to get out of town. The Saints owner would be very wise to use the current situation in New Orleans as leverage to move his team to a larger market and the NFL would be very wise to help NO do this.

The Texans were almost put in LA but in the end LA asked for more than the NFL was willing to provide. From what I hear, LA thought they had a lock on the expansion and got a little too cocky about it. I imagine they'll be more open to negotiation this time around.

Personally, I think one NFL team in LA will do just fine. At worst case, they'll pull in as much revenue as they did in NO. At best case, they'll pull in a lot more. It's probably worth the risk to the owner.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Dante said...

I like 32 teams and I like the 4 divisions of 4 for each conference. (I still want a stipulation that a team with a losing record can't go to the playoffs though.)

I could live with a contaction but an expansion would be foolish. In it's current incarnation, you would have to add 8 teams to even things out and like I already said, I really like this organization.

Out of curiosity, what 4 teams would you contract? Here's mine:
1. Arizona - The owners are using the team as a cash cow and nothing else. Atlanta would also be on this list if the Smith family still owned them.
2. Jacksonville - When you have to have a supermarket buy up a good chunk of your tickets because you already smallish stadium can't sell out, then you have no business being an NFL team.
3. Detroit - I know there's a lot of NFL history in Detroit but history belongs in books. We shouldn't let the Ford family continue to destroy this once decent franchise.
4. Oakland - Look at the numbers. Their attendance is abysmal. Sure they have a smaller stadium, but they're consistently in the bottom 5 on attendance, even during a Super Bowl year. And tell me the NFL would be a worse place without Al Davis. For what it's worth though, the first three were easy. This 4th one is the only one I struggled with.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Laddi said...

I agree on Arizona and Jacksonville, but I wouldn't shut Detroit out and am surprised you would with you stating just a few lines above that with a change in management you'd have done the same with Atlanta but now you wouldn't. The Detroit area wants their team, just with new ownership. If we are to ignore history, then the 49ers could arguably be on the list, but you can't, no matter how long ago history was. Which is why the Raiders stay, also.

Aside from Arizona and Jacksonville, the other two I'd look at are:
3) San Diego - poor value team, with poor management, poor on-field results, no real historic significance or contribution to the NFL iconography, and low revenue. San Diego may have an okay fan base, but not one that travels or is ubiquitous. The 1995 Super Bowl doesn't equate "history" and the powder blue jersey vs. the dark blue ones isn't controversy. They would be a minor footnote to football history if they were contracted, not a shocking story in the annals of football lore.

4) A fourth team is tough. There are some johnnycomelatelies that make this more difficult. 10 years ago, Atlanta and Indy would immediately have been on the list, as would have New Orleans, with Arizona rounding out the list. But Atlanta and Indy are currently well-positioned. So while it's wrong to just shut it down in New Orleans right now, they are the obvious selection in the long run, so they have to be on the list. And for me though I can't explain it, contracting them completely is a better alternative than letting the owner run to the highest bidder. NFL teams as personal icons are much better than that, no matter how terrible their team is on the field. I know it's business, but it doesn't make it right.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Dante said...

"am surprised you would with you stating just a few lines above that with a change in management you'd have done the same with Atlanta but now you wouldn't."

Not management, ownership. There's a big difference unless you're in Detroit and the Ford family has practically made you family (looking at you, Millen). If the owners of an NFL franchise aren't out there trying to better the product of NFL football, I don't think they should continue to have an investment in NFL football. That's the thing that makes it hard for me to list the Raiders because much to my dismay, Al Davis does increase the value of the whole league somewhat.

I thought about the 49ers because they are going the way of Arizona and Detroit. Ultimately the 49ers aren't there because I refused to list a team in the top half of weekly attendance. As many shortcomings as they have, getting folks to the stadium is not one of them.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger The Analyzer said...

the Raiders belong in Oakland. Attendance woes have been partially due to the people selling the tickets. The Raiders have taken over ticket sales so attendance will rise.

Raiders News and Analysis

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Laddi said...

I don't really think the NFL is looking to move Oakland, though, and I truly don't think if the word "contraction" is brought up that Oakland fans have anything to worry about. From an economic-to-attendance standpoint, San Diego, Buffalo, Arizona, Jacksonville, and New Orleans have a lot more to worry about than Oakland.


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