Stadium News…

About a week ago, reports said that the NFL had “passed” on any deal to move a; team to LA and into a downtown stadium that would have cost $1.8B to construct on the basis that they could not possibly get a good lease deal on a stadium with that price tag. One way to look at that news – Pollyannaish as it may be – is that the NFL turned its back on a huge public expenditure on its behalf in some kind of spasm of noblesse oblige. Actually, the NFL appears to be in line to suck at the public teat in two other locales as we speak…

The Metrodome is coming down in Minneapolis at the end of the 2013 season to make way for a new stadium on the same site where the Vikings will play starting in 2016. The Metrodome has been around for about 30 years and was the venue for Vikings football, Minnesota Gophers football and Minnesota Twins baseball for much of its life. However, the Twin Cities and the State of Minnesota have been on a stadium building rampage recently providing new quarters for the Twins and a new on-campus stadium for the Gophers within the last 5 years or so. Now it is the Vikings’ turn… The Vikings will play their games in 2014 and 2015 in TCF Stadium (on the Minnesota campus) until their new playpen is ready in 2016.

TCF Stadium will provide a couple of interesting twists for the Vikings and their fans. The stadium is an outdoor facility, not a dome. Gophers’ football is over by Thanksgiving; Vikings football extends until New Years – and if the stars align correctly beyond that. Even if you believe Al Gore is understating the degree of climate change the planet will experience, you have to recognize that outdoor weather in Minneapolis in December and January might be ”challenging” on a few scheduled game days.

Another factor will challenge the Vikings’ front office. The Metrodome held 64,111 fans and the Vikings sold a lot of season tickets. TCF Stadium seats 50,805. Some season ticket holders might not be able to get seats in the interim stadium and that cannot be a good idea in terms of maintaining the integrity of the team’s brand.

I doubt that many folks will lament the demise of the Metrodome. It was probably a nice place when it was new, but it had become “threadbare” to be very polite about it.

The other new stadium for an NFL franchise will emerge in Atlanta. The Georgia Dome is home to the Falcons and it is only 20 years old; it is not a decaying facility where it is repulsive to watch a game by any means. However, the Georgia Dome will be relegated to the scrap heap and a new stadium will go up at a cost of $1B. Stadium advocates say the cost to the taxpayers will be only $200M but there is no accounting there for the infrastructure costs (roads, sewers, and the like) that will have to be built to allow the stadium to function. Some estimates say that the infrastructure costs alone will cost the city of Atlanta more than $300M.

    Given that the Georgia Dome is still functional and given that the economic situation finds plenty of taxpayers in a bind, I do not understand the logic that leads the politicians in Atlanta and in Georgia to tear down the Georgia Dome and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium.

    If the Falcons play two home exhibition games in the new stadium, their eight regular season home games there and – occasionally – get two home playoff games, that would account for 12 days of use for the new stadium. And that is worth spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars…? Really?

    Oh, by the way, one of the means by which Arthur Blank (Falcons’ owner) will pay his share of the costs will be to sell PSLs to season ticket holders and you can bet that ticket prices will be higher than they are today. What that means is that the ticket buyers (who are probably also taxpayers in that part of the world) will foot some of the bill for the “Falcons’ share” of the costs.

Last week, there were myriad reports that Michael Jordan and his fiancée applied for a marriage license in Florida. Naturally, I wish the happy couple a lifetime of marital bliss. I did notice one thing in the reports that did not get a lot of attention. The marriage license has an “expiration date” of 9 May 2013. No, I do not think that either party will get “cold feet” here; I think there is a more important significance to that date:

    The NBA regular season will end on 17 April – if I read the schedule correctly.

    That gives the loving couple a bit over 3 weeks to schedule the nuptials before 9 May without having to worry about any conflict with a Bobcats’ playoff series.

There was a short spasm of “controversy” surrounding allegations that one or more NFL teams might be asking questions of players at the Combine about their sexual orientation by asking if they had girlfriends or if they liked girls. Forgetting about the legality or the propriety of asking such questions, consider what Bob Molinaro had to say in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot about the utility of such questions:

“Kicking it around: Let me get this straight (so to speak): Do some NFL teams expect prospects that may have been hiding their sexual orientation from coaches and the locker room their entire lives to suddenly fold under the pressure of a pre-draft interview and blurt out that they’re gay? If so, football people are dumber than I thought.”

Consider for just a moment these words of wisdom from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun:

“The NHL motto post-lockout: ‘More fighting, fewer goals.’ How proud they must be.”

Finally, here are some suggestions from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald regarding a new “revenue stream” tapped by Florida Atlantic University:

“FAU sold naming rights to the Owls’ football stadium to GEO Group, which privately runs prisons. Even odds on the place being nicknamed Owlcatraz. Our other suggestions: Call program founder Howard Schnellenberger ‘The Warden,’ outfit cheerleaders in vertical stripes and replace player uniforms with county-issue orange jumpsuits.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Doug  On March 13, 2013 at 8:08 am

    As a native of Atlanta and an original Falcon season ticket holder, I would advocate strongly (if I had a vote) against the new stadium. Atlanta, as a government, cannot afford this project. That is why the Falcons are promising money this time when they did not for the Georgia Dome. The Dome was built next to two MARTA stations and three intersecting Interstate highways. My first thought when I heard this story last year was, “Huh?”

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 13, 2013 at 11:41 am


      I have to agree with your position here. The Georgia Dome is only 20 years old. If the new stadium costs $1B and lasts 20 years before it too “needs replacement” that means it costs the folks in Atlanta and Georgia $50M per year to house an NFL team. That makes pretty much no sense whatsoever…

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