For the past several years, lots of folks have poked fun at the LA Chargers who have been unable to attract a sufficiently significant fanbase in LA to fill their 30,000-seat stadium. There is precious little “home field advantage” for the Chargers there; normally the crowd is equally divided between Charger fans and visiting fans. The general narrative has been that all will be well once the Chargers get to be tenants in the new $5B stadium complex being built in LA by Rams’ owner, Stan Kroenke. Recent reports, however, cast a small shadow on that rosy scenario.
As part of the deal that got NFL approval for the Rams to move back to LA, the Chargers were designated as tenants in the new stadium and part of the deal called for the Chargers to sell a bunch of Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) to help fund the stadium complex itself. This was not a commitment by the Chargers but the sales they would generate would be part of the base funding for the stadium. The amount “pledged” by the Chargers was $400M.
[Aside: These figures need to be put in context; Stan Kroenke’s net worth is estimated to be about $10B. Therefore, $400M represents 4% of his wealth. Moreover, his family wealth is beyond the $10B figure because his wife is an heir to the Wal-Mart enterprises, and her net worth is approximately $7B.]
Back to the Chargers… It surely looks as if they are going to fall short of that $400M PSL target. Sales to date have been slow; the total value is only about $50M. That $400M, plus NFL-provided financing to the tune of $200M, was supposed to provide a bit more than 10% of the total cost of the stadium and real estate development project. Recent reports say that the Chargers are looking to goose the sales by reducing the prices on their PSLs. Economics 101 says that demand for a product will increase when the price is decreased; from that perspective, the move makes sense. As is often the case, there is a “HOWEVER” in there:
- Under reduced pricing, the target figure now is only $150M; that is less than 40% of the original target.
- It is unclear if the Chargers will give rebates to fans who have already purchased Chargers’ PSLs at the original price. For a team that has had difficulty in attracting fan interest in LA, that would be a great way to piss off the “first adopters” of the new team.
Mr. Kroenke is responsible to make up any shortfall(s) here; for the Chargers, this means they have “disappointed” their new landlord even before moving in. To be clear, that is not a good move.
Back when the wheeling and dealing was going on regarding the NFL’s return to LA, there were 3 teams in the mix. The Rams wanted upgrades in St. Louis they could not extract from the politicos there; the Raiders wanted – and needed – a new stadium but there was no way the city of Oakland could or would build one for them; the Chargers needed a new stadium too but not to the same extent that the Raiders did and the citizens of San Diego voted in a referendum not to devote public funds to such an endeavor. Of those 3 teams, moving the Chargers made the least sense to me then; and in light of what has gone down with the team and its crowds and these PSL sales, it makes less sense today.
Speaking of new stadiums and financial considerations, the Raiders are moving along with their new stadium in Las Vegas. One of the problems that the new stadium location had was that there was a lack of nearby parking for fans who might want to tailgate before a game and for the number of vehicles that one would expect to attract to a stadium that will seat 65,000 fans normally but is expandable to 72,000. One of the original “solutions” to this problem would be to create satellite parking areas with shuttle buses; some of the identified satellite facilities were a couple of miles from the stadium.
Somehow, that situation needed improvement. Recent reports indicate that improvement is on its way. The Las Vegs Review-Journal reports that the Raiders have purchased a 17-acre tract near the stadium to be used for stadium parking. The cost of the tract was $28M or about $1.65M per acre. That looks to me as if the previous owner of the land recognized the importance of that acreage to the Raiders. In addition, the team has also acquired several “parking lots and commercial buildings” proximal to the stadium site. Here is the full story from the Review-Journal.
Switching from the NFL to the XFL, the new league assigned each of its 8 teams a QB as Round 1 of the XFL Draft. All XFL players have contracts with the league so these assignments were made in a mysterious way. Two of the QB assignments look like marketing decisions to me:
- The XFL’s Washington DC team gets Cardale Jones as a QB. Cardale Jones is a physically large black QB who played college football at Ohio State. Coincidentally, the NFL’s Washington DC team has Dwayne Haskins on the roster nominally as its QB-of-the-future. Dwayne Haskins is a physically large black QB who played college football at Ohio State. What are the odds…?
- The XFL’s Dallas team gets Landry Jones as a QB. Could there be a more aptly named QB for a pro football team in Dallas than Landry Jones? The only way to increase the ties to “Pro Football in Dallas” would be for Landry Jones to name his daughter Meredith. [Aside: Yes, Landry Jones was named for Tom Landry.]
Finally, here is an observation from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Former NHL forward Darren McCarty says marijuana “saved his life.”
“Which probably just clinched him the first Lady Bong Trophy.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………