Monday, March 27, 2017

Las Vegas Raiders. Rights and wrongs

There's a few things right about the Oakland Raiders moving to Vegas, but far more wrong.

This is right, if you happen to be the NFL or another owner of a franchise. No doubt, the money will flow like Niagara Falls, as if an industry that reaps profits of over $10 billion a year actually needs more cash. They pretty much print their own money already. Not surprisingly, the billionaire owners voted by a 31-1 margin in favor. The super-rich can never get enough.

But it's wrong to the faithful Raider fans. Few would question that among fan bases, across all of sports, none have been more loyal and rabid than "Raider Nation". They certainly didn't do anything to deserve such a betrayal.

Yet there's also little doubt that the city of Oakland, like so many other once thriving metropolises across America, has fallen into a state of serious disrepair in recent years. They have far more crime, corruption, blight, and poverty going on than they do assets to offer.

Mark Davis, son and heir of the late Al, the "founder" of the Raiders, was sympathetic to their plight and tried to work out a deal for a badly needed new stadium. The old coliseum isn't in much better shape than its ancient namesake in Rome. The right thing to do.

But the "powers that be" in Oakland, mistakenly thinking they had "leverage", had the utter audacity to TRIPLE the Raiders's rent. It was a slap in the face to a new owner, no fool himself. Also somewhat reminiscent of the city of Pontiac, Mi. once home of the Silverdome, which had long housed the Detroit Lions, trying to jack up the Ford family for a bigger slice of the pie. They wouldn't DARE move the team, went their thinking. Wrong on both counts. The Fords built a brand new stadium in Detroit proper, moved the team, and the Silverdome sits in ruins, deteriorating further by the day. So too did young Davis call their bluff and look what just happened. Raiders gone in a couple years, as soon as Vegas can build a stadium.

That shouldn't be much of a problem for the glitzy folks. They've got billions of dollars flowing in monthly from the hordes of tourists that continue to pour into Sin City. To boot, Las Vegas itself is surrounded by desert. The team need not go far out of town to find a decent site to build such a new bauble, with little if any of the dreaded "eminent domain" being invoked to oust people that already live there.

At that, the Vegas folks have promised Davis Jr. a cool $750 million in public funds to help with the stadium. Stop right there. That is HORRIBLY wrong.

While the casino owners and operators may well be reaping the ridiculous monetary rewards of said tourist industry, the residents of Vegas themselves aren't exactly affluent. Why should $750 million come out of THEIR pockets, when it would be chump-change to the casino tycoons?

At that, though the greedy idiots in Oakland's local government obviously overplayed their hands, why shouldn't Davis, a billionaire himself, pay for his own new showcase? It's not like he couldn't afford it.

Though it's long been painfully obvious the federal government is dysfunctional to the point of not being able to get out of their own way, much less pass helpful legislation, here's an idea they might consider ---

Be it resolved, when it comes to building a new stadium or arena for a sports team, that will be privately owned, not one single tax dollar from an American citizen shall heretofore ever be appropriated in any way, shape, manner, of form, be it millages, thinly veiled tax hikes on services, or any other rip off of John/Jane Doe that may adversely affect the struggling budgets most of them still find themselves on. The eventual beneficiaries of such a creation will either pay for it out of their own pockets, or get their rich friends to help out.

And what could be wrong with that? An owner might be a little short of being able to put up the cash necessary? Well -- so what? They could go to a bank and get a loan or mortgage like everybody else does when they want to build a new house. Why should the public be held hostage and extorted for it? How in the hell did the concept of the ultra-rich making the struggling masses pay for their new palaces ever get started in the first place? But it continues to happen all the time.

That's as wrong as those $600 manually operated fastener impellers (hammers) and $800 pivoting sanitary insulating devices (toilet seats) those lovable folks at the Pentagon foist on the public. And you wonder why the country is wallowing in such a massive deficit? Somebody's getting mighty rich somewhere, and it's certainly not John Q. Taxpayer. Hello? Wrong, wrong, and more wrong.

Maybe another law ought to involve the "eminent domain" concept itself. This was once a practical, if painful idea when something that would benefit the public outweighed the needs of the few. If an interstate needed to be built, some folks were going to have their property confiscated to make room for it. But when that happened, they shouldn't have just been given "fair market value" for their houses, many of which had been lived in for generations, but TRIPLE value to ease the pain of being uprooted.

On that note, it has always been pure folly to suggest a stadium or arena benefited the needs of the public, so hundreds or thousands would have to see their homes bull-dozed. The only folks it benefited were the owners of the team and the new building itself. To add even MORE salt in the wound, they would tax those very same people they made homeless to build it in the first place. And then expect them to come back and patronize their product at the ridiculous prices they would charge. Can it possibly get any MORE wrong than that?

Welcome to the American way in the wide world of sports, such as it is.

It really is shameful, and always has been.

Thing is, the politicians and billionaires have done so many outrageous things to the public over the years (see the proverbial raping, looting and pillaging) that people have become numb to most anything else they can come up with. When you get hit in the head enough, it just stops hurting after a while. But it doesn't make it right.

Some say Raiders' fans will remain loyal to their team. Maybe some will. But if I was one of them, first thing I'd do is organize a movement to vote the idiots in local government out of office that tripled the beloved Raiders rent in their ignoramus power play that spectacularly backfired.

Then I'd totally ignore the team when it moved to Vegas. Billionaire owner wasn't willing to pony up? Neither will I. Not another penny will they get from me.

How that will play out remains to be seen. After all, it'll take a couple years to build the new digs in Glitzville. And it's truly too bad. After many years of being down and out, the Raiders appear to have finally turned the corner again and could be a Super Bowl contender some year soon.

Pity Raider Nation in Oakland likely won't be able to enjoy it.

And no matter how you slice it or dice it, that's just about as wrong as it gets.....


  1. I don't know why cities cave to billionaires and subsidize stadiums. Tax dollars should be spent on roads, schools, and other public works projects. I get that stadium construction provides jobs, but they should still be privately funded. Bob Kraft funded Gillette Stadium out of his own pocket. The Panthers sold personal seat licenses to build their stadium. Even the Lions funded 75% of Ford Field's construction.

    Stadium subsidies don't make sense.


    1. Pretty much agreed, Mach, and good to hear from you again. Still, the Fords -- arguably one of the richest families in the country with the auto empire and all -- should have paid 100% of the cost of Ford Field. Twenty five percent of a billion or so bucks still amounts to a serious amount of dinging the lowly taxpayers. And that's just wrong.

    2. Ford Field only cost $430 million to build. The Fords paid for $323 million. I do agree that the Fords should have covered the full amount.