And the Team Sucks, Too

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A San Diego lawmaker, presumably upset that the local pro sports teams have reacted to the municipality's landlording (to the tune of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars) by acting like tenants, has come up with a novel solution to close the barn door in case the Chargers bolt town— introduce a state law, AB 3003, forcing any California city receiving a relocated pro team to pay damages to the jilted burgh. Which gives rise to the mathematical possibility that a California taxpayer who moves from San Diego to wherever the Chargers go next could end up being penalized three separate times for the irresponsibility of his local governments. (Link via Baseball Primer)

On a related note, in doing research for this post, I stumbled across a useful website & blog called League of Fans, which does a good job tracking billionaire sports owners' tireless attempts to swindle tax money. It was founded by none other than my old golfing buddy Ralph Nader, and the About Us info is classic:

League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

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  1. The bill would guarantee that if a team moved, it would move out of state. Brilliant.

    Actually, that would be like a dream come true. I’m tired of being taxed to support other people’s recreational activities.

  2. […]the citizens of San Diego got an unbelieveable deal in Petco. Sure they had to kick in some cash, but Petco reverts to city ownership in 20 years, and the developer had to kick in over $150 million.

    He had to promise to redevelop the area around the stadium too. Now some of you may think that’s making a sow’s ear out of a silk purse, but I’m a developer myself, and I’ve been familiar with the area around the new stadium since the ’80s.

    I’m familiar with there, too (I should, I live here). I still go down to said area from time to time to buy …uhh …party supplies, and the stadium did “improve” it.

    You are dead on about the development, but in doing so, they failed to improve one thing: The traffic situation, which is going to, no wait, IS atrocious.

    Not long ago, the San Diego convention center finished a very nice expansion, and now the stadium. The first time there’s a large convention, AND a big game, it’s going to be hell on earth. Bets are that whatever happens, the Trolley will get blamed for being overloaded, just cause a bunch of fat cow sports fans thought they could save the environment by slobbering all over the public transportation system instead of the road/their own vehicles.

  3. I worked for the law firm that arranged the financing for the Cleveburg Indians new stadium complex (which now sits on my then 3 buck a day parking space, dammit). In that “Public/Private Partnership”, the public put up all the money, and gets all the debt back. That’s what was meant by 50/50.

    My guess is that’s how Dubya got his new stadium too – lock, stock and swindle.

    Crooked owners, grafting politicians, and millionaires in goofy costumes. Not to mention bad food and expensive beer. Send them home and build schools with the money. ( And lest ye say we don’t need no stinking public schools, where will kids learn what cheats their leaders are?)

  4. Nah, Dubya first had land condemned, then paid pennies on the dollar for it using public money. After the resulting jump in the value of his share, he sold. It was the only business success he ever presided over.

  5. The thought of the Chargers coming to LA and doing well is ridiculous. There’s a reason both the Raiders and the Rams left; there’s no support for a football team here. Although there’s still some latent, asthetic support for the Raiders, most of the people in LA County that think of the NFL when they hear the word Football are fans of the team from the city where they came from.

    The belief that the Raiders and Rams left Southern California because of poor attendance is one of the great myths in sports. Neither Frontiere nor Davis were interested in selling out games or spending the money to market their team. Their focus was on luxury box revenue, and both owners spent their last years in the area trying to drive down attendance, precisely so they could use provisions in their leases to move. Davis, for example, typically would spend the off-season trying to move up north, and would not begin selling tickets for his team until June, two months before the pre-season. Frontiere went so far as to deliberately gut the team so that they would lose games, a move that backfired when the NFL initially blocked her move to St. Louis, and later assessed a heavy financial penalty to ultimately permit the relocation.

    In both cases, the deal they got from the taxpayers in St. Louis and Oakland was too sweet to pass up, and would have made them more money than if the Rams and Raiders had sold out every game in L.A. As Carroll Rosenbloom would attest, any competent owner can draw fans for his team in Los Angeles.

  6. The thought of the Chargers coming to LA and doing well is ridiculous. There’s a reason both the Raiders and the Rams left; there’s no support for a football team here. Although there’s still some latent, asthetic support for the Raiders, most of the people in LA County that think of the NFL when they hear the word Football are fans of the team from the city where they came from.

    The belief that the Raiders and Rams left Southern California because of poor attendance is one of the great myths in sports. Neither Frontiere nor Davis were interested in selling out games or spending the money to market their team. Their focus was on luxury box revenue, and both owners spent their last years in the area trying to drive down attendance, precisely so they could use provisions in their leases to move. Davis, for example, typically would spend the off-season trying to move up north, and would not begin selling tickets for his team until June, two months before the pre-season. Frontiere went so far as to deliberately gut the team so that they would lose games, a move that backfired when the NFL initially blocked her move to St. Louis, and later assessed a heavy financial penalty to ultimately permit the relocation.

    In both cases, the deal they got from the taxpayers in St. Louis and Oakland was too sweet to pass up, and would have made them more money than if the Rams and Raiders had sold out every game in L.A. As Carroll Rosenbloom would attest, any competent owner can draw fans for his team in Los Angeles.

  7. Then why hasn’t a team come here? Why is that the second largest market in the United States of America hasn’t been able to attract a football team since 1995?

    Not that there has been a shortage of candidates. The Titans prefered Nashville to LA. The Ravens chose to go to Baltimore in 1996. The owner’s of the Browns chose Cleveland rather than LA. Let’s not forget the Jaguars and the Panthers. They both started playing after LA’s teams left, and they both chose to go somewhere else. Then in 1999, the Texans chose Houston over LA. All of these teams have demonstrated that they would rather not be in LA for some reason.

    Why? Is it because of the stadium? The tax payers of LA couldn’t be ripped off just as easily as the taxpayers in all those other cities? Of course they could, except for one thing: the city isn’t willing to spend the political capital required to get a stadium built because there isn’t much fan support for Football in LA.

    How ’bout that Galaxy?

  8. The bill would guarantee that if a team moved, it would move out of state. Brilliant.

  9. That’s ridiculous. The Browns and Texans didn’t choose to play in those cities; they were expansion teams awarded by the NFL to those cities, in both cases with promises of enormous public subsidies for the league. The Jaguars and Panthers were expansion teams that were awarded before the Rams and Raiders left the area. And the Titans and Ravens moved where they moved for the same reason; attendance in the cities they dumped was actually quite good. The NFL may well have considered the stadium situation (and the unwillingness of the local taxpayers to shell out for new digs) as a demerit against Southern California, but that has nothing to do with a lack of public interest or fan support for the sport of football. California taxpayers are notorious tightwads when it comes to public works projects, and they are not certainly not going to finance something as trivial to the public interest as a football stadium, no matter what the attendance.

  10. My thoughts exactly, garym.

  11. Christ, if we could only get our Phoenix teams to leave us! Apparently the team owners here have been able to suck money out of the city, county and state like mosquitoes suck blood out of a cow’s ear.

  12. Nader should spend more time taking down these parasitic team owners, and less time making sure they get elected president.

  13. The real loser if this bill passes will be Al Davis.

    The thought of the Chargers coming to LA and doing well is ridiculous. There’s a reason both the Raiders and the Rams left; there’s no support for a football team here. Although there’s still some latent, asthetic support for the Raiders, most of the people in LA County that think of the NFL when they hear the word Football are fans of the team from the city where they came from. (Go Redskins!)

    If any city gets a good deal, it’s going to be San Diego. Although I’m just as disgusted with taxpayer money going into a sports franchise as the next Libertarian, the citizens of San Diego got an unbelieveable deal in Petco. Sure they had to kick in some cash, but Petco reverts to city ownership in 20 years, and the developer had to kick in over $150 million.

    He had to promise to redevelop the area around the stadium too. Now some of you may think that’s making a sow’s ear out of a silk purse, but I’m a developer myself, and I’ve been familiar with the area around the new stadium since the ’80s. Especially considring the state of the area at the time that the deal was struck, it was no give away. The developer had to put up with some ridiculous stipulations too; he had to move an abandoned, “historic” candy factory in spite of the fact that nothing historic ever happened there, for instance.

    Anyway, if the people of San Diego get half as good a deal with the Chargers as they got with the Padres, they’ll do a lot better than any other City in recent memory–excluding DC of course.

    For those of you who don’t know, Jack Kent Cooke never directly took any taxpayer money to build a stadium, and he built two–the Forum, where the Lakers used to play, and the new Redskins Stadium. Yes, Virginia, there’s a good, libertarian reason to be a Reskins fan. (Did I already say Go Redskins?)

  14. Sure, let California cities & counties keep writing these absurd laws. Let’s get the Padres to move to Reno! (Why not? Couldn’t ever be as ridiculous as putting the New Orleans Jazz in … Utah. Anyway, Reno is building a minor-league ball park now, paid for by … new rental car taxes. Now there’s a way to tax somebody who can’t complain.)

    Hell, put the Chargers in Vegas. Now *that* would add some fun to an LV weekend. Can you imagine the stadium Vegas would build for an NFL team? The betting lounges? The half-naked nymphs serving drinks and steaks?

    As a former San Diego County resident (1981-1991) who went to high school in the so-called “downtown,” I gotta say the area around the Convention Center & the new ball park has really turned around in the last year or two. After the double blow of the real-estate-bubble collapse and defense contractor collapse of the late ’80s / early ’90s, I didn’t think I’d ever see that part of town become loved. But it’s damned pretty now, and people with most of their teeth actually live downtown.

    Of course, you can still safely allow a toddler to roll around “Broadway” on a Sunday afternoon between the high-rises ….

  15. “Hell, put the Chargers in Vegas. Now *that* would add some fun to an LV weekend. Can you imagine the stadium Vegas would build for an NFL team? The betting lounges? The half-naked nymphs serving drinks and steaks?”

    THAT is a beautiful concept.

  16. Eli Manning and his entire family have lost my respect for their compelling impersonations of a pack of whining bitches re: being drafted by San Diego.

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