Hey, honey, I have options

While the Minnesota Legislature seemed willing to spend money like Michael Jordan, one thing it didn’t buy was the new plan for a Vikings stadium. Perhaps it’s due to a lousy plan, but remember this is the last team to get a deal in a town that has handed them around freely of late. This leads Mark Yost (subscribers link) to wonder aloud if the Vikings are the newest temptation of the City of the Angels.

So as you look around the NFL for the franchise that’s most unhappy with its stadium deal, the Vikings quickly jump to the top of the list. Their lease at the Metrodome runs through 2011, but as any contract lawyer will tell you, everything’s negotiable. So get used to the sound of “the Los Angeles Vikings.” It only makes sense.

But does it? Yost casts some uncertainty whether adding a franchise in LA adds or subtracts from TV revenue (since now everyone there can watch six games, you have a lot of Angeleno eyeballs to sell with that contract.) Maybe they’re a major-league city or maybe they’re not … or maybe they just prefer college football.

Yet every team uses Los Angeles for football like Tampa was used in baseball in the past. The bigger reason for there being no LA professional football is probably more strategic.

Pro football is dead in L.A. because the owners have put it on the back burner for years, more interested in using the threat of it to extorttaxpayer money from cities and playing potential stadium owners and sites against each other. A rise in TV ratings this year, and the fact that NFL games get a decent share in L.A. even without a local team, have also reduced the urgency level.

Likewise, Aaron Schatz:

Despite the fact that a team in Los Angeles would help the NFL in broadcast negotiations, the city also has some value to the league without a team. Every time a football team is unhappy in its current city, it gets to threaten to move to Los Angeles in an effort to get a better stadium deal and more tax breaks. (The fact that Mayor Hahn appears uninterested in such sweetheart deals doesn’t seem to have diminished the effectiveness of a general threat to decamp to L.A.) San Diego, Indianapolis, Minnesota, and New Orleans have all pulled this stunt recently. So letting Los Angeles go without football has allowed the NFL to extort more money from taxpayers across the country.

This latter article is from 2004, and note that the three other cities mentioned have gotten their tax booty from their cities (though for New Orleans, Katrina and Reggie Bush played a role, as Yost points out), and that now-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seems warmer to giving away a sweetheart deal.

I expect the result is that there will be a stadium deal in 2008, not that the Vikings will move, unless Governor Tim Pawlenty has gotten religion on this, too.

Cross-posted at SCSU Scholars.

Photo of author

Author: Guest

Published on: