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NFL Fans Should Pay For Their Tickets, Not Stadiums

The Georgia Dome in Atlanta remains a perfectly fine building for professional football. Still a teenager, it is nowhere near long in the tooth. Capacity is enough to accommodate nearly every Atlanta Falcons fan willing to buy tickets.

Arthur Blank, the team owner, craves a new stadium. That seems akin to trading in your car after it has logged only 20,000 miles, but he can well afford it.  Blank, the former owner of the ubiquitous American home improvement store chain called The Home Depot, has a net worth of $1.2 billion, according to Forbes, and the franchise value has risen 52 per cent since he bought it in 2002 for $545 million.

But wait. Blank expects the quasi-public agency that operates the Dome and the proposed site of a new stadium to issue bonds that would pay some of the costs. That should be 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, sticking it to taxpayers at the same time that funding for public schools in Georgia is being cut.

This sickness is spreading among NFL team owners. In Minnesota, the Vikings’ Zygi Wilf has capitalized on the collapse of the Metrodome’s inflatable roof amid a once-in-a-lifetime snowstorm and the fear of the franchise relocating to Los Angeles in his campaign for a replacement stadium. Of course, citizens would contribute to the project. Never mind that Blank might expect Wilf, worth $1.3bn, to pick up their lunch bill.

The shameless nonchalance of these folks who seem detached from reality has generated a shifting of the winds.  We have already experienced it here in New York and New Jersey.

The public, which normally sides with management during labor disputes in American sports, is sympathetic toward the players in a stand-off with owners that has pushed the league to the brink of a lockout.  In a poll conducted by Seton Hall University, 35 per cent who participated backed the players, compared to 22 per cent for their bosses. This, even though the same study found that most contend the players are overpaid.

Taxpayers are increasingly fed up with being forced to become stadium-erecting partners with Rolex-wearing, yacht-sailing jet-setters. Economists nowadays agree on little, but one belief they share is that public support of professional sports offers almost nothing financially in return.

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The Giants and Jets grew tired of their shared arena and convinced the government to pitch in for a new-and-improved one. The old Giants Stadium was torn down despite carrying more than $100m in debt that must be paid off by the good people of New Jersey.  Plus, the season ticket holders are also helping flip the bill on the new one with PSL’s.  Isn’t that double dipping?  The nerve!

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, stands complicit in this wasteful building boom. From his office comes a wink-nod promise of the ultimate in ego gratification for owners: host your own Super Bowl! Just throw up a stadium and you will get the big game. How you bankroll it, that’s your business.

Which explains why the 2014 Super Bowl was awarded to New Meadowlands in a region where the average low temperature in February is -2°C.  Which also explains why 22 of 32 teams have moved into fresh digs or had their existing ones totally made over in the last two decades.

In that time, teams have been blessed with more than $7bn in taxpayer subsidies for construction and renovation, according to the NFL Players’ Association.

The players union reports that, on average, taxpayers put up 65 per cent of the financing for those projects. Owners found a way to avoid putting in any money for 10 of them; for nine others, their contribution amounted to less than 25 per cent.

Further driving public sentiment toward the players are reports on the sport’s inherent physical risk, particularly for victims of post-concussive syndrome that has ravaged retirees. Fans are looking beyond the average salary of $1.9m and discovering other statistics:

$770,000, the median yearly pay.  ŸThree-and-a-half years, the average length of career.  Eleven, the average number of players per team on injured reserve this past season.

While many of us might trade places with the players, the figures show that most of them accumulate more aches and pains than enough wealth to last them a lifetime.

For team owners, it is a different story. Admittance into the club all but guarantees going from rich to richer, experienced from the comfort of a stadium luxury suite.

Fine. That is the American way. But those who knock on government doors seeking handouts to finance mostly unnecessary arenas should instead heed the marketing message aimed at customers of Blank’s old home improvement stores.

Do it yourself.

Basck to Basics

Here I have sat, where most of the TV time has been spent on the Brett Favre affair. Now I have not been here all day,I was out and about on this hot and humid day. Just when the TV has been on, it has been on sports. From hearing Brett was on a plane from Hattiesburg, MS to Vikings training camp to seeing him jog out onto the field in his number 4 practice jersey. He will be starting for the Vikings this Friday night against the chiefs. As a Jets fan I have already gotten over the love affair. For other fans of Favre and Vikings fans I wish you the best with the drama he totes around in those bags on his shoulders. Jets fans have enough drama at QB this year anyway.
The Brett Favre signing has been a nice distraction today. From everything else that has been going on over the past week. From working the phones and pulling my hair out to a clear head and a sure sign that things to come are only going to get better. I wrote before about going back to when I thought i had things figured out. Well, now I am sure I do. Had to look at myself from the other side of the mirror, take a good judgmental look at myself. Done being behind a desk for now. It was wearing on me. I was getting fried doin g the same thing day in and day out. Not just the past few months, but over the years.
For the longest time I was just never prepared. Never really got a grip on the future or gave it much thought. Never planned ahead, not even for a career. Never set a base to grow on and learn from. I have a better idea now of things so that is why I need to begin anew. I will elaborate more later.
Will have the new website up and running very soon. I am going to go into pull details there. Did not want to begin something big when I will have to continue it elsewhere. But tomorrow I will touch base on a few things. I thought I had it all together, when I set a path that it would all be found along the way. Man, I was so mistaken. I should have stopped and asked for directions long ago. Or consulted those that would give me an honest answer. I should have done things for myself and not think others would do things for me years ago. I got used to that kind of thing and let it keep going.
OK, I said I would not go on and I am, lol. I really did get a good look at myself over the past few months and realized a lot of things. Man my head has had a lot of clutter thrown out. But there are still things up there so do not think about any empty head jokes. Knowing who you and and what you do makes it easier to lead a better and fruitful life. I have just begun to realize both of those things.