On September 12, 1982 the Vikings opened the Metrodome. It had cost $68 million to build it. The Vikes want, and need, a new stadium and are next in line once the Twins get their stadium issues resolved.
The L.A. Threat still lingers which means that the team could escape for the warmer climes of the west coast…..lease or no lease….if a stadium cannot be built for the Purple.
But a new team has also thrown its hat into the L.A. Threat ring. The New Orleans Saints were born in 1967 and in most pro football circles are seen as having suffered through the most ignominious years in the history of the NFL.
The Saints have become an insignia of fiasco after fiasco. Once known mockingly as the "Aints," they have won one playoff game in their 38 seasons. Fans coming to the Super Dome wearing brown paper bags on their heads to hide their shame has become common to NFL fans nationwide.
Last week, Louisiana government officials went behind closed doors to consider new ways to finance the team. And as with our own Red McCombs, lurking behind the negotiations in Louisiana was the threat that the Saints could pull up stakes and move to Los Angeles if the state could not come up with enough concessions to satisfy current owner Tom Benson.
Since 1995, after the Rams and Raiders left, the National Football League has not had a team in Los Angeles. Since then, in cities across the nation (Phoenix, Seattle, Indianapolis, etc) owners have used the dearth of a Los Angeles franchise as weight. They have extracted concessions worth hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers while threatening to move to L.A.
The strategy has been a critical factor in the NFL's stunning building boom. A quick Google search lists that since 1995, stadiums have been newly built or renovated for 19 of the league's 32 teams, including Jacksonville, the site of last years Super Bowl.
Some say the strategy has been such a success that Los Angeles, though it is the nation's second-largest television market, is more constructive to the NFL without a team than it would be with one.
The NFL has said it wants a team in Los Angeles by 2008 or 2009. League spokesman Greg Aiello said last week that the league has not determined whether it would be better to move an existing franchise or to start a new one by adding a 33rd team, whose owners would pay the others as much as $800 million to join. Aiello said the NFL is concentrating on getting a stadium ready for a prospective Southern California team.
He discarded comment that the league and its owners have used Los Angeles as influence to win concessions from taxpayers, and noted that owners have invested mightily during the recent run of stadium projects, spending more than $1 billion.
I think he kept a straight face while voicing that statement.
Some analysts say communities are willing to give so much public money to a private company because each team creates its own trickle-down economy. A recent University of New Orleans study estimated the Saints' annual economic impact at $402 million. The city has also played host to nine Super Bowls, more than any other city. Though many economists dispute it, the NFL claims that Super Bowls now generate as much as $300 million apiece.
Stadium deals are essential to the success of an NFL franchise.
Over and over again, owners have launched campaigns to win stadium deals. Time and again with massive contributions from the public, and often with a reminder that the field might be greener in L.A.
In Seattle, concerns that the Kingdome was structurally unsound in 1996 prompted Ken Behring, then owner of the Seahawks, to weigh a move to Los Angeles. Instead, the Kingdome was imploded and replaced. The Seahawks opened the doors of a $430-million stadium, now known as Qwest Field, in 2002. The public paid $300 million; now-owner Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, paid for the rest.
In the Phoenix area, the Cardinals will move into a new, $355-million stadium for the 2006 season, six years after voters approved a measure committing public money to the project. The Cardinals spent more than $500,000 lobbying for approval. The team will pay less than a third of the stadium's cost.
In Indianapolis, Colt owner Jim Irsay butted heads with the city last year, charging that his stadium, the smallest in the NFL, was dragging down revenues.
In December, Irsay and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson announced a deal to build a $690-million stadium. Taxpayers, in order to pay back bonds funding the bulk of the project, are expected to contribute $46 million annually for the next 30 years.
Now it's happening again in New Orleans. With Saint executives raising the likelihood that the team might be forced to leave, state officials are trying to figure out how to pay for a $168-million renovation of the Louisiana Superdome.
The dome, the Saints' home field, is owned by the state. It opened in 1975 and is the NFL's seventh-oldest stadium. Team owner Benson has declared it archaic and has demanded, among other things, more luxury suites, separate entrances for "premium" customers and wider concourses to enhance concession sales.
I think he's been talking to Red!
But Louisiana can't afford even its existing obligations to the team. The last time the team threatened to leave, in 2001, the state agreed to give the team $186.5 million in cash. Last year, the state had to ransack an economic development program to cover a $15-million installment.
So, who will it be? The ‘Aints or the ‘Queens that move west? In any event, public supported stadiums may have just reached its remaining window of opportunity. Let’s hope the Vikes figure out a way to get it done.
Zygi, are you listening? This will be your first order of business.
Those Orbitz Pop-Up Ads
I hate pop-up ads and often close them out before they even load. I also have the browser set to block as many as possible. But, oh those Orbitz ads!
Orbitz is the Mt. Everest of pop-up/under ad design, as this fellow points out. I can't resist them. My mouse finger instinctively tries to hit the home run, sink the eight ball, or count the flamingos. And these Orbitz micro-games are almost worth the click-through. I only hesitate when I realize nobody loses, and there's nothing to win. The next time I sink the eight ball, I'd like a 10% discount on my flight.
Do you Orbitz? What's your fav?
Today will be that first day to vote in the fifth week of the Best Vikings Draft Choice Ever Tournament. Last week you voted to take the field of eight down to four . Who will make the Finals!?!?!
The fifth round ends 5/26 at 12:40:00 AM.
Let's break down the two match-ups with the winners determining the finalists for next week.
The 60's vs the 80's Bracket
The 70's vs. the 90's-Today Bracket
Voting is now open in the fifth week of the Best Vikings Draft Choice Ever Tournament.
Coming tomorrow...SHOUT OUT! Friday.