Here Are 5 Cities Happier Without the NFL
PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) A big public investment in a big stadium for the biggest sports league in the U.S. doesn't make a U.S. city "big time": It makes that city Jacksonville.
A National Football League franchise is viewed as civic status symbol. It's a means of getting a city some air time and brings with it the hope that some of the NFL's cash will stay in town. Good luck with that. Last year, the NFL produced $10 billion in revenue. That's greater than the $8 billion produced by Major League Baseball over the same span and more than the revenue produced by the National Basketball Association ($5 billion) and National Hockey League ($3.3 billion) combined. Its television revenue is slated to rise from an average of $4 billion a year to $5 billion annually as new contracts kick in. The networks are more than happy to pay after 34 of the 35 most-watched television shows in the fall of 2013 were NFL games with only NBC's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade cracking the Top 35.
But a spot in the NFL's big game comes at a cost. Ask Bills fans in Buffalo, from which the team ships one home game a year to Toronto after forcing local government to shell out $200 million for stadium renovations just to get the team to stay in town for eight more years if a new owner decides to keep them there. Ask fans in Minnesota how psyched they felt at this time roughly two years ago, when Vikings management was threatening to move the team to Los Angeles before finally getting the state to pay $498 million for a new stadium.
Ask Jaguars fans in Jacksonville, who lose a home game per season to exhibition games in London and just had about 9,000 seats torn out of their stadium for space-filling swimming pools and cabanas. Ask Falcons fans in Atlanta, who just shelled out $200 million in tax dollars to replace the Georgia dome, which was built less than 20 years ago and renovated less than a decade ago for more than $200 million. Ask Chargers fans in San Diego, who are still fighting with ownership over a new stadium. Ask Rams fans in St. Louis, who just watched owner Stan Kroenke buy up land in a Los Angeles sports complex when it became clear his host city, county and state wouldn't foot the $700 million bill to renovate the Edward Jones Dome into a "top tier" facility.
Ask Bengals fans in Cincinnati, where the surrounding county put itself in debt up to its eyelids building a stadium for an owner who wants even more renovations.