April 05, 2017

National Review Takes on NFL Relocation Shakedowns: In the conservative National Review, Jonathan Tobin tackles NFL relocation scams: "[W]hile any sports fan understands the sadness felt in Oakland and the happiness in Las Vegas, the reaction from taxpayers in the two places should be quite different. Those of Oakland should be cheering their government's refusal to be shaken down by the NFL, while the people of Nevada ought to be up in arms about the way they are about to be fleeced by billionaires."

posted by rcade to football at 10:12 AM - 8 comments

Calling it "socialism" for rich sports owners to take millions out of public coffers is amazingly stupid. But I thought it was interesting for NR to rip the NFL. Normally the magazine has great sympathies for the struggles of the rich.

posted by rcade at 10:16 AM on April 05

Fleecing is right, this isn't socialism its thievery.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:44 AM on April 05

I am a long time Nevadan of 23 years, albeit a northern Nevadan, which is a wholly different animal from a Las Vegan. That said, I don't know a single person who lives here in Nevada who is happy about the city of Las Vegas bringing in the Raiders. Why? Our money should be spent elsewhere.

Schools: It's not just Las Vegas schools that are crumbling and packing children into classrooms; it is a problem throughout the state. Washoe County, home of Reno, just approved a sales tax hike to 8.25% to try to find some source of additional funds for our schools, but even that won't be enough. Our state consistently ranks dead last in education* and shows no signs of relinquishing that dubious title.

*the rankings are somewhat skewed due to Nevada's overwhelmingly rural nature, and there are some fantastic schools in Reno and Vegas, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

Tourism: Vegas is already one of the tourism capitals of America. Does anybody in their right mind think that bringing the Raiders into town will appreciably increase the number of people who come to Vegas? Instead of spending that $500 at the football game, and lining Davis' pockets, that money could be pissed away at a casino, adding to high-paying full-time jobs in the service industry* rather than part-time gigs shilling Pepsi eight weeks a year. Also, casino revenues are what keeps Nevadans from having to pay state income taxes, so keep those losing streaks going!

*Seriously. Vegas is largely a union shop, and casino dealers, bartenders, and cocktail waitresses regularly make well over $100K

Also, the article patently contradicts itself. First, it states it's crony capitalism at its worst. Then, it states This is a Robin Hood in reverse system that amounts to nothing less than socialism for sports team owners. Is it capitalism or is it socialism? Is "Robin Hood" in reverse socialism? I would think that the reverse of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor--robbing from the poor to give to the rich--is capitalism. Either way, when the money comes from the workers and is transferred to those who hold the means of production, it is most definitely NOT socialism. Maybe the NR has been screaming socialism! at anything it finds objectionable for so long that it is just an uncontrollable knoee-jerk reaction.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:35 PM on April 05

A good companion to this piece would be the older article in The Atlantic on how the NFL fleeces taxpayers.

I was recently reading about the hundreds of millions of municipal debt still owed by cities that the NFL has recently deserted - St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland. Amazing that this sort of thing has continued to happen.

Any sports fan on the verge of being done with the league can choose from a growing cafeteria menu of vexations that will put them over the edge.

Isn't there already a pirate-themed resort on the Strip?

posted by beaverboard at 03:08 PM on April 05

If you consider socialism to be the government controlling the economy and deciding which businesses or individuals receive money from the government, then what Nevada has done may be considered socialism. What the NFL does is anything but socialism. Rather it is a bit of a scam that promises places that will subsidize a team increased economic activity and jobs. In some cases this is true, but much depends on the team ownership to develop the businesses and activities, as well as a successful team, that generate the economic activity.

I agree with tahoemoj about Las Vegas being the last place in the USA that needs largess from the state to attract tourists. Confession on my part: When I was working and we frequently tested at the Tonopah Test Range, I usually flew into Las Vegas, stayed overnight, and drove the 200 miles to Tonopah the next day. I would reverse the process returning to NH. Las Vegas for me was not much of a tourist destination. The tables were a waste of time and money, the shows did not interest me nor fit my musical tastes, and other than the occasional beer or glass of wine, I do not drink that much. If Las Vegas had had an NFL team and any of our tests had coincided with a visit by the Patriots, I would definitely have sought a ticket. Otherwise, I have no real interest in going there, but there are a lot of fans here in New England, and elsewhere, who would go to one of their team's games in Las Vegas rather than another city

posted by Howard_T at 03:36 PM on April 05

I usually flew into Las Vegas, stayed overnight, and drove the 200 miles to Tonopah the next day.

So you are one of the lucky few who has been to beautiful Goldfield, Nevada (pop. 268), or at least through it on US95. Nestled midway between Reno and Vegas (and just south of Tonopah), it is a forgotten mining town somewhere close to BFE. Actually a pretty amazing boomtown story from the gold rush.

It also happens to be the county seat of Esmeralda County, Nevada (pop. 829), and the location of the Fifth Judicial District Court by and for Esmeralda County, current venue for 5 (FIVE!!) active lawsuits in which I represent a mining outfit, either as plaintiff or defendant (or real party in interest). I listen to a hell of a lot of books on tape.

there are a lot of fans here in New England, and elsewhere, who would go to one of their team's games in Las Vegas rather than another city

Possibly, but most of us here do not believe that the football game would be the reason for the visit, so much as something else to do while a visitor is here anyway.

posted by tahoemoj at 06:29 PM on April 05

So you are one of the lucky few who has been to beautiful Goldfield, Nevada (pop. 268)

Aw, darn, I turned off at Lida Junction to head over to Mammoth. Even that much of the drive from Vegas, and then on to US 395, was pretty mindblowing, in large part because of how empty it was. I might have seen 10 other cars between Beatty and Big Pine. So I just saw the BFE part.

While San Diego has tried to upgrade its stadium over the years, nothing had been done for 20 years or so, and at least they hadn't gone and built an entirely new one. The Charger's old home has been around for 50 years now.

posted by LionIndex at 07:53 PM on April 05

Another article from a conservative viewpoint here. Written back in 2004. Some comments insightful, amusing and/ or ironic given the current state of things.

In the last 10 Super Bowls, 40% of the champions had home stadiums with less than 25% public funding, but only 20% of the title games were played in stadiums with less than 25% public funding. The NFL loves showcasing the fancy, fleecy venues.

Maybe the league's goal is for the Super Bowl to be played in Vegas as often as possible once the new stadium is up and running. Does the NFL have a luminary who could serve as a roving goodwill ambassador in Vegas during Super Bowl week? The NBA is all set in that department. They have Barkley.

posted by beaverboard at 08:40 AM on April 06

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