NFL

L.A. Saints to Take the Field?

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Don't be surprised if New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson gets some three-way action going between his "temporary" home of San Antonio, the Big Easy, and the City of Angels.

Benson has not one, but two high cards. First, SA would auction off the Alamo brick-by-brick if need be to land an NFL team and hence become a proper Texas city. Second, the big, fat nothing currently taking up NFL space in L.A.—a situation the league would love to remedy, but not with league office fingerprints on the deal.

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  1. They could call them the L.A. Wetbacks. That way, they could have a sense of their old home and their new one.

  2. Los Santos?

    Works for SA or LA.

  3. There are reasons we’ve lost two teams and haven’t attracted another one. …One of them being that the city can’t generate the support required to build a stadium.

    …and, I suspect, one of the reasons they can’t get that support is because there are so many people here from elsewhere. …I don’t think I’ve missed a Redskins game since I moved here–the sportsbars are always crowded with fans rootin’ for whoever.

    …and that doesn’t even factor in that a lot of people here are from other countries, and when you talk to them about football, they think you’re talking about…*gulp*…soccer!

    Mark my words, if the Saints move to LA, somebody’s gonna make a bundle movin’ to or creating a new team in New Orleans. …assuming the city’s rebuilt. (Are you tellin’ me that some joker in Alaska can get a bridge to nowhere, and this guy can’t get new boxes built in a disaster zone? …come on!)

    P.S. The recent game between the Cardinals and 49’ers in Mexico City is indicative of nothing.

  4. NFL owners like having LA open. Not having to worry about home teams and picking the best games to show makes for good ratings, and “I’ll move to LA” is a great club for owners to beat their cities over the head with.

  5. San Antonio can’t support an NFL team:

    1. Small population and low average income
    2. Small media market
    3. Few big corporations headquartered there to buy all those skyboxes.

    Now, those same problems also apply to New Orleans, plus the fact that the city will be economically crippled for years to come. I don’t blame Benson for wanting to move the team, but I doubt that San Antonio is the place. I’m guessing he gets an extension of year to decide and then moves to L.A.

  6. Austin isn’t that far away San Antonio/Austin team up. Wonder if Mr. Dell is a football fan?

  7. Los Angeles (OK, Carson) can generate all kinds of support to build a Futbol stadium.

    http://www.homedepotcenter.com

    They can’t generate any support for the concept of closing schools, police stations and fire stations and giving the money to billionaires and their millionaire steroid addict employees.

    MP: Your post was more accurate than you think. One of the fan clubs for Chivas USA (one of the Major League Soccer teams that plays in the Home Depot Center) calls themselves Los Mojados.

  8. The reason NO is in a better position than SA is that the Saints pulled fans and viewers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Granted that’s not a huge population pool, but at least there is a regional base. In SA they would be competing with the Cowboys and Texans for fans and TV time. SA doesn’t have a prayer of getting the Saints.

    LA? Won’t happen for the reasons Tom Crick and Scott outlined.

    I think that the Saints will stay in NO because we’re going to build them a big fat new stadium in the name of hurricane relief and economic revitalization. They will truly be America’s team because everyone in America is going to pay for that boondoggle.

  9. San Antonio can’t support an NFL team:

    1. Small population and low average income
    2. Small media market
    3. Few big corporations headquartered there to buy all those skyboxes.

    And that’s a problem because….

  10. Green Bay and Buffalo teams are well established. And they were important cities when the teams were first located there – more important than they are now, anyway, and arguably more important than San Antonio is now. Buffalo, certainly.

  11. They’re going back to NO – this is all maneuvering to extract a fat tax deal for the owners.

  12. Buffalo draws from all over upstate NY, northern PA, and southern ON.

  13. The Indianapolis Colts — relatively recent to the city (1984), small market, proximate to other cities with pro football teams (Cincinnati, Chicago). And no one ever called that city important.

  14. Population isn’t the problem at all. San Antonio has 1.2 million people and is the 9th largest city in the country. The average income and lack of large base of corporations with headquarters here is an issue, however.

  15. joe,

    In the 1990s Green Bay had to have a new public offering of stock to drum up money they weren’t making from ticket sales, etc. They don’t make the sort revenue the major market teams do and that hurts their general ability to sign primetime players.

  16. As of 2000, San Antonio was the ninth largest city in the country (and rising). That sounds like a market… especially since you only need to fill the seats eight times a year (this being the Saints, we don’t really need to consider the playoffs, do we?)

  17. Wouldn’t that be four-way action?

  18. “And no one ever called that city important.”

    You mean Indianapolis, the largest non-port city in the Western Hemisphere?

  19. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the NFL, or anyone else, really, wants – it’s all in the hands of Mr. Benson. If the NFL tries to stop the Aints from moving to San Antone, well, they can kiss Benson’s ass in court, just like they had to do to Al Davis, as disgusting as that sounds.

  20. When did Mexico City get a port?

  21. The population and average income of SA isn’t the problem. It’s the TV market. The NFL can get ratings in San Antonio with the Cowboys and Texans. What’s the point of having another team in Texas?

  22. The Alamo is made of adobe, not brick.

  23. Oops. United States, not Western Hemisphere.

  24. No prob, joe, but you had me doubtin’ my geography…you made me look at a goddamn map fer crissakes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Nothing wrong with looking at maps.

    Larry A, then how does the basement stay up?

  26. Dallas, Phoenix?

  27. Benson won’t move his team to the Alamodome. The only revenue the owners do not share is the luxury box receipts. There are none in the Alamodome. Benson will push hard for a new stadium – he probably does not give a flying crap where it is actually located.

    I went to the Saints/Bills game at the Alamodome. It is a poor excuse for a stadium. The playing field was threadbare. The concession stands were like neighborhood lemonade stands. Poor sound system, no Jumbotrons, no out-of-town scoreboard. Parking was difficult to find and a long walk from the stadium (and severely limited tailgating opportunities).

    JohnP – Austin will not lift a finger to support an NFL team. The University of Texas squashes every attempt to locate pro teams of any sport in this area. Their monopoly in the field of sports entertainment will not be broken as long as the Longhorn faithful control local zoning, financing, and permit approvals (the fucking bastards!)

  28. Yeah, that’s right, I live in Phoenix, and it’s way bigger than Indy. In fact, according to 2003 data that I found, Dallas has ~1.2 million and Phoenix has ~1.3 million. Indy only has ~780k.

    So you’re trippin’, joe.

    But I fogive you, cuz you’re from the east coast.

  29. See, Rhywun, both Joe and the San Antonio folks are using deceptive numbers. The population of the city of Denver is a little over 550,000, while the metro area is about 2.6 mil with the suburbs. Indy has a metro population of somewhere around 1.4 mil or so, most of which lives in the city itself with few suburb dwellers because of their past annexation of land into the city. San Antonio has a 2000 population of 1,144,646, while the metro population is only 1,592,383 (happened to have the numbers right in front of me). Thus San Antone and Indy have relatively big core cities, but small suburban populations.

  30. As of 2000, San Antonio was the ninth largest city in the country (and rising).

    But not the ninth largest metropolitan area, which is the more relevant statistic. That 1.2 million people in the city represent the overwhelming majority (90%?) of the metro area, since S.A. has never had much in the way of independent suburbs. Assuming that the S.A. metro area has about 1.5 million people, that puts it in about the same territory as Portland, Ore., which is also probably too small to support an NFL team.

    Of more concern to the NFL than population, however, is the size of the media market, which doesn’t always correlate to population. From what I recall reading, San Antonio is the smallest media market in the NBA, even smaller than Salt Lake City. Portland has a bigger media market than S.A., despite their similar size, because its media market takes in most of Oregon and southern Washington–a total population of at least million.

    S.A.’s media market takes in only the city and its immediate surroundings. Places even just a few counties away are part of the Houston and Austin media markets. And as ralphus pointed out, the NFL already has ample viewership in those markets. Not to mention the fact that every San Antonian I know is a diehard Cowboys fan and already watches those games.

    Although N.O. is better than S.A. from a regional marketing standpoint, I really do think that Benson is set on moving the team–he has obviously wanted to for years. Even though people in MS and AL watch the Saints, their tax dollars would not be available to be hijacked to pay for a new stadium, and as we’ve all seen, the finances in Louisiana aren’t there.

    Benson might be pigheadedly going for S.A. as the place, but he’d be smarter to get the team into Los Angeles, even if it meant waiting longer to get a new stadium.

  31. B.P., I was writing as you were posting like thoughts…

  32. Error of omission: Portland’s media market must be at least *4* million.

  33. By the way, I don’t know the size of Indy’s media market, but I bet it is rather big, since it probably takes in most of the state of IN.

  34. The Packers’ 1997 stock sale was approved by the NFL on the condition that it not be used for free agent acquisition or other player costs. The money went towards the team’s portion of the renovation of Lambeau Field.

    The Pack have been, since the 1930s, a state team. From the team’s website:

    The decision to play games in Milwaukee (including State Fair Park and County Stadium) played a key role in the Packers’ survival. It allowed the team to tap a larger market and thwart any efforts to establish another competing pro football team there. The Packers played games in Milwaukee for 62 straight years (1933-94) until opting — mostly for financial reasons — to move all games to Green Bay beginning with the 1995 season.

    To this day, season tickets are split between “Green” and “Gold” packages. The former seat-holders at Milwaukee County Stadium have the “Gold” package, which consists of 2 regular season games and one pre-season “game” (sic). Milwaukee used to host 3 of the teams 8 home games.

    A San Antonio NFL entry wouldn’t have a catchment area as large as GB does, I’m thinking. There are a few FIBs who have moved over the border into Kenosha county who root for Da Bears, and some suburbs of the Twin Cities have metastasized, resulting in a few Viqueen fans living on this side of the Mississippi River, but essentially the Packers have the loyalty of the entire state, not to mention some Yupers in Michigan. Also, while the Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison markets are not the largest of their kind in the country, the TV ratings for NFL games, even ones not involving the Packers, are continually the highest. There’s also only 1 D1 NCAA football program in the state, while Texas has college teams up the butt.

    Kevin
    (ex-patriate Giants fan in Cheddarland)

  35. B.P.,

    Yeah, I was going by metro populations, too, and even those are not totally adequate to compare cities, since they are based on county boundaries rather than actual urbanized area. So Buffalo is roughly 1.5 million while New Orleans is 1.3 million. Even I, Buffalonian at heart, would have to concede that New Orleans is (was?) a “bigger” city.

  36. Even though people in MS and AL watch the Saints, their tax dollars would not be available to be hijacked to pay for a new stadium, and as we’ve all seen, the finances in Louisiana aren’t there.

    Who needs their tax dollars when you can get cash from the feds? Mark my words, somehow keeping the Saints in NO will be spun as hurricane relief.

  37. joe,

    Phoenix and Mexico City have ports?

  38. Need I add that The Patriots are located in a cranberry bog many miles away from a relatively small popolation center known for being snowed over for half of the season?

    The San Antonio/Austin deal sounds quite possible.

  39. Yahbut the Pats are considered the “home team” of most of six states.

    Kevin

  40. Boston is relatively small? Anyway, football is meant to be played in the winter. You don’t want those guys overheating themselves in the tropical southern weather….

  41. Who needs their tax dollars when you can get cash from the feds? Mark my words, somehow keeping the Saints in NO will be spun as hurricane relief.

    Sadly, ralphus, you’re probably right. And anyone who objects will probably be called a heartless racist.

  42. The San Antonio/Austin deal sounds quite possible.

    The ire of Austin residents being deprived of the opportunity to watch the Cowboys on TV would probably nix this sorta deal, especially if the new team played in the Alamodome. S.A. and Austin may only be about 45 min. apart geographically, but they are a world apart in most other ways. Heck, DC and Baltimore are closer, and there is no ‘sports continuity’ at all between fans in the two cities.

  43. ChrisO,

    You are a heartless racist.

  44. I bet you could build a pretty sweet new stadium in the 9th Ward. Talk about your blighted neighborhoods in need of revitalization. All the messy condemnations procedures already taken care of. By Kelo here we come.

    Just think how great the Super Duper Dome will look next to the new Trump Corporate Welfare Queen Hotel & Casino.

  45. Boston has 600,000 people, half of San Antonio. Then again, most of the population lives in the sprawling subburbs.

  46. Heck, DC and Baltimore are closer, and there is no ‘sports continuity’ at all between fans in the two cities.

    …Why do you think DC didn’t have a baseball team for so long? What concessions did they have to make to the Orioles owner?

    I never forgive that traitor Irsay or his demon-spawn child for their treachery. My third favorite team will always be whoever’s playin’–I refuse to use the name–Indianapolis. …Give us back our name! …I grew up cheering for the Orioles, the Caps, the Bullets–they’ll always be “Bullets” to me…

    …and if you did an autopsy on me, you’d find a Redskins logo tattooed on my heart.

  47. And just to tie this thread together with the earlier thread about cheeseburger product liability…

    Rooting for the Orioles? Ewww… they’re owned by Peter Angelos.

  48. Ewww… they’re owned by Peter Angelos.

    I didn’t care about that when I was 8.

    …and sports teams are just different–the personal politics of the owner doesn’t get into it as much. Loyalty to baseball teams is more like–as Gillespie semi-suggested the other day–loyalty to news outlets anyway. …I think loyalty to baseball teams is more a function of performance.

    Football teams are different that way, or at least they should be. Be true to your your boarding school friends, your football team, God, and your dog–loyalty to them shoudn’t be based on performance.

    …That’s one of the reasons I despise Cowboys fans.

  49. Why Los friggin’ Angeles? It’s my understanding that The Big Cesspool With Palmtrees is emphatically not what one would call a football town. God knows, there are lots of places that would looooove to have a professional football franchise.

    Minnesota, for instance…

  50. Speaking as a displaced New Orleanian, I’d honestly have to say that New Orleans is in danger of losing both the Saints and the Hornets (worst in league attendance last year). Benson is from San Antonio and has been looking to move the team there for years. He couldn’t get a new stadium in N.O. because there’s nowhere to put it, and the taxpayers would never approve it as long as teachers are raking in $23k to work in the worst school districts man has invented. Plus the fact that no one goes to the games because there’s just too much free or near-free entertainment to compete with. Personally, I don’t believe that having a sports team in your city is all what it’s cracked up to be, but losing a team is civic suicide. Maybe Mr. Benson can split the difference between San Antonio and Austin by moving the team to San Marcos. I’m all for it if it means that Austin won’t have to suffer through Cowboys and Texans games every Sunday.

  51. Jim Walsh,

    All those Vikings are going to eat you alive, you mean man. ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. As some have pointed out, saying S.A. is the 9th largest city is a bit misleading because it doesn’t count the metropolitan area population, but MSA’s can also be misleading as Rhywun noted because they go by counties rather than urbanized area. So, just for reference, in terms of urbanized area San Antonio ranks 30th (urbanized pop. 1.3M). Aside from the strange situation of 2nd place LA (11.8M), the next largest city without an NFL team is Portland, which ranks 23rd (1.6 M). And as a reference for some of the other cities that have made it into the discussion, in terms of urbanized area population:

    Phoenix 13th (2.9M)
    Denver 20th (2.0M)
    Indy 33rd (1.2 M)
    N.O. 37th (1 M pre-Katrina)
    Buffalo 38th (980k)
    Green Bay ????

    I couldn’t even find its urbanized pop. (is it GB even urbanized?) but its MSA is 152nd at 283k right below Roanoke VA and Huntington WV, which I’m sure are on the short-list for the Saints, should LA decide to pass on the chance.

    Which makes me wonder, how has GB managed to keep an NFL team? I mean Ft. Wayne couldn’t keep the Pistons. Sure, it is an historic franchise, but what ever happened to Rock Island, Evansville, Muncie (or Tonowanda for that matter)?

  53. Which makes me wonder, how has GB managed to keep an NFL team?

    From Wikipedia:

    “Based on the original ‘Articles of Incorporation for the (then) Green Bay Football Corporation’ put into place in 1923, if the Packers franchise was sold, after the payment of all expenses, any remaining monies would go to the Sullivan-Wallen Post of the American Legion in order to build “a proper soldier’s memorial.” This stipulation was enacted to ensure that the club remained in Green Bay and that there could never be any financial enhancement for the shareholders.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bay_Packers

  54. …By the way, the salary cap explains–to my way of thinking anyway–why a team with a limited market was able to win the Superbowl in ’98.

  55. Given how badly misnamed the last team to leave NO ended up, Utah Jazz; the departure of the Saints could only match it if they went to Vegas.

  56. Boston has 600,000 people, half of San Antonio. Then again, most of the population lives in the sprawling subburbs.

    The difference is that eastern city boundaries were frozen 100+ years ago, while western city boundaries tend to absorb the suburbs. Therefore, I would wager that most of San Antonio lives in sprawly suburbs, too (actually, more, given that it was built more recently than Boston); they just happen to be located within city limits.

  57. Jim Walsh,

    That was a pretty low blow, buy even Minnesotans agree.

  58. Buy?!?! Of course I meant but. Please, can we gain the ability to edit posts? Someday?

  59. Didn’t the Seahawks try to move to LA in 1999, but the NFL blocked the move, saying that the league itself owned rights to place a team in the area?

  60. Lowdog,

    Indy was the biggest non-port city at one point in the 20th century. It has been overtaken, obviously.

    The relevant statistic is media market. Boston is actually under 600,000, but the Boston media market is the sixth largest in the country.

  61. Which makes me wonder, how has GB managed to keep an NFL team?

    Not that mysterious. Although the team is named the Green Bay Packers, the reality is that the team draws fans from most of Wisconsin, including Milwaukie, where they used to play a few games per year. That’s in addition to the public ownership of the team that others have noted.

    The Packers are a holdover from the ’20s and ’30s, when the NFL was a new, struggling organization that was concentrated in the Upper Midwest and had lots of teams in small cities. For example, the Detroit Lions spent their first several years as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, and the Chicago Bears started out as the Decatur Staleys.

    As far as the economics of placing NFL teams go, it has much more to do with the size of the media market and corporate sponsorship than with the size fo the urban population. Portland should probably have a team now, but it’s not a real professional sports haven. Even the Blazers now struggle to fill their arena.

  62. …and had lots of teams in small cities.

    Yes, that’s why I listed those other smaller cities that didn’t manage to keep their team even though you could argue they could draw from lager cities as well. So what’s the difference with GB? I think the restrictions on the sale of shares seems to be the key.

    but it’s not a real professional sports haven. Even the Blazers now struggle to fill their arena.

    Well, that’s because they suck. ๐Ÿ™‚ They didn’t have trouble filling seats when they were battling for conference titles, but turning into a bottom of the league team after having their league-longest run of consecutive playoff appearances snapped doesn’t help. Neither do all the arrests.

    And of course Portland isn’t a sports haven because it only has one team – but it is the 23rd largest media market as well as 23rd largest urban center, which puts it well within range of 30+ team leagues.

  63. I think the restrictions on the sale of shares seems to be the key.

    Undoubtedly so. Stands to reason that the residents of Green Bay who own the team aren’t to threaten themselves to move the team to L.A. if they don’t award themselves a new stadium. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Well, that’s because they suck. ๐Ÿ™‚ They didn’t have trouble filling seats when they were battling for conference titles, but turning into a bottom of the league team after having their league-longest run of consecutive playoff appearances snapped doesn’t help. Neither do all the arrests.

    As a guy who grew up in Portland back in ’70s-’80s, I know exactly what you mean. I will say, however, that most of the Blazers’ glory years were spent in an abnormally small arena, though the first few years in the Rose Garden were sellouts. But the increased arena capacity meant that once the team hit a bad patch, there wouldn’t be anymore sellouts. And yeah, all of the bad behavior does seem to have severed some kind of link that the city had with the franchise…that and the fact that everytime I return to visit, it seems like half of the population moved up there from the Bay Area in the last five years! ๐Ÿ™‚

    But seriously, part of Portland’s NFL problem is that the Seahawks have managed to convince the league that Portland is part of their “territory.” Which as a youth meant I got to watch year after year of mediocre Seahawks football every week. Any wonder why I especially loathe that team??? The NFL is determined not to expand any further, so any L.A. team is probably going to come from a move.

    Also, ESPN is now reporting league sources as saying that the likelihood is that the Saints play in San Antonio next year and Los Angeles thereafter.

  64. Good points, ChrisO. As someone who also grew up in Portland, I know all to well the dissapointment of missing a great NFL matchup because we were stuck with a miserable Seahawks game. I remember all the complaints to KGW every week being met with the same response – we don’t like the Seahawks either but there’s nothing we can do, we have to carry it.

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