Saturday, December 19, 2015

NFL Plays Musical Chairs with Franchises for Los Angeles and London

Your team could play here in a few years.   Don't assume the NFL will look out for your city's interests.  They look out for the NFL's interests.  

     I remember when the Browns moved to Baltimore.  It was a horrible feeling of betrayal.  The team owner sold out the fans in favor of making more money.   Well, we should have seen it coming, pro sports are a business and the teams are there to make money for the owner.   Mr. Modell did well financially and became a hero in Baltimore, even though he could never ever return to Cleveland.  In my lifetime, franchises have packed up and moved several times.  There was the Baltimore Colts...the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles and back again...the Rams moved to St. Louis, the Chargers, Titans, and several others.  

    This terrible situation will happen to other teams.   Los Angeles is set to acquire two teams in the next few years, and perhaps one or two in London also.   The names thrown out are usually the San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams and maybe the Oakland Raiders.  All three teams have played in Los Angeles previously.    

Los Angeles is so huge that many observers feel that it will certainly receive two franchises in the next few years, not just one.  

    London is eyeing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been a grossly mismanaged team.  The Buffalo Bills are rumored to be another possibility if they are not nabbed by a group from Toronto first. 

     But if those moves go off without a hitch, that does not end franchise movements. Now you will have empty stadiums in San Diego, St Louis and Jacksonville, and groups will no doubt be formed to seek other NFL teams willing to relocate in order to get a sweeter stadium deal, and potentially enhance the value of the team by several hundred million dollars.  

      Fans assume that the candidates to move are primarily teams with poor fan support.  This is not true.  Any team that has a profit-oriented owner, preferably without family contacts in the team's current home, are candidates to move.        Greed is the motivator, so it merely has to be shown that a move to a new city will result in a new stadium with a sweet lease deal, and other teams will consider a move.  

        A few teams are so amazingly wealthy that they would not generate new revenue by moving.  If you look at the value of teams listed as estimated by (Forbes), that would include teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and the New York teams.  The average value of an NFL franchise is currently 2 billion dollars.  

      I'm not an expert but I have to think that franchises in Los Angeles and London will rank near the top of the list in ten years.  At least they should be comparable to franchises from Chicago or Philadelphia with a present value around $2.4 billion.    
      There are several teams valued at about $1.6 billion dollars or less:

     Minnesota, Carolina, Arizona, Kansas City, San Diego, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Tennesee, Jacksonville, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Oakland and Buffalo.  Any of these teams would stand to create at least $800 million dollars of value by moving.   

     Many teams are owned by people with strong connections to the host city, and the owner would not want to become a pariah there as Modell became in Cleveland. Not so in the case of Jacksonville or Cleveland.  

    As a Browns fan, I am amazed that the team is owned by a resident of Tennesee, and no one seems to mind.   Rather, Clevelanders assume that the owner is a kindly football fan seeking to bestow riches on the team, and who is not swayed by profit motives.  Hence, getting a billion dollars for moving the team to LA or London would have no appeal for this saintly individual.

     But I breathe easier knowing that Haslam has been in quite a bit of legal trouble, and probably would not want to create more problems for himself and his brother the Governor of Tennessee, at least not at the present time.

    But returning to the scenario in which the Jaguars move to London, with the Rams and Chargers moving to LA, we have to ask how long it will be before new groups in Jacksonville, Saint Louis and San Diego will emerge to compete for the remaining teams.  It's a gigantic game of musical chairs, as the number of teams is limited by the NFL, while there are several more cities that want the NFL.   As Yogi Berra might say, it ain't over.  

    As a minimum this will result in a bidding war as teams scramble to keep their teams.   Stadium improvements worth hundreds of millions of dollars are certain to to result. Certainly when the Browns current lease expires in 2029, it will cost a pile of money to negotiate a new one.  We will have to outbid cities in the market for a new team to play in their new stadium.  This is just going to be the norm as the NFL extorts money from cities to keep their teams.


No comments:

Post a Comment