by Ken Reed

Through the years, National Football League (NFL) owners have become experts at extorting public funds from cities for the purpose of getting new or improved stadiums. Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) owners have also been adept at playing this game.

However, today it’s the NFL that’s in the extortion spotlight. Three franchises, the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders are all working on threats to move their teams to the open Los Angeles marketplace unless their existing cities build them new sports palaces.

The Rams and owner Stan Kroenke struck first. Kroenke announced plans, as part of a partnership, to build a new 80,000- seat stadium in the old Hollywood Park race track area near Los Angeles. Of course, this announcement turned up the heat considerably on St. Louis politicians to come up with a plan for a new stadium in the St. Louis area for Kroenke’s Rams. St. Louis taxpayers beware!

A short while later, the Chargers and Raiders teamed up to use the L.A. market as a leveraging tool to get their own new stadiums in San Diego and Oakland respectively. The two franchises have collaborated on a plan to get a new stadium in Carson, California, which is also near Los Angeles. In theory, the two franchises would share the new stadium.

In a move that’s not surprising given the history of the stadium extortion game, the Carson city council put the stadium project on the fast track, bypassing a special vote.

All three NFL franchises have now implemented the “Or Else” strategy. Build us a new stadium with plenty of revenue-generating luxury suites and club seats or else we’re moving to another city.

This is the kind of stuff that happens when the country allows professional sports leagues to operate unchecked as self-regulated monopolies. Greed and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) mentalities drive the bus. Struggling taxpayers and communities be damned.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.