Owning an NFL team is a golden goose. Owning a stadium to house that NFL team is like having some sort of hen house that makes its own moola and increases the valuation of that golden goose...or something like that. Mid-analogy distraction sank that one. What I was haphazardly trying to say is that owning a stadium is big money for NFL owners. In today's league, you either own your own stadium or have the local rubes, I mean taxpayers, buy you one. Market-priced leases are for suckers.
Stadium costs fueled a big part of the owners' desire to reshape the league's revenue sharing system. Those things are expensive after all; Jerry Jones spent a billion dollars on his. Like I said in that hackneyed analogy above, it's a big part of the appeal of owning an NFL team because it generates its own revenue, that doesn't all have to be shared, and up the valuation of a team. That's why this little tidbit of info from the current proposal hanging over the labor talks struck me.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen said today via Twitter that the new deal "does address stadium funding." How exactly a new deal addresses stadium funding remains to be seen.
The NFL vowed to contribute to the Vikings stadium nightmare, er, project, with approximately $200-250 million. It should be noted that it's not entirely clear what the league's contribution would be; some think the team and the league would chip in more than $400 million for a project estimated to cost between $920 million and $1.2 billion. Of course, not all stadium situations are the same.
St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke will be paying particular attention to the stadium funding portion of the deal. Obviously, the 52/48 revenue split gives the owners a bigger pool of profits to divide, but any specifics around stadium funding will be key for the Rams. Just in case you forgot, the team's lease on the Ed Jones Domes runs out in 2014.
City officials and the Convention and Visitors Commission must to present the Rams with a plan to upgrade the facility, in order to meet the stipulation that its among the top quartile of league facilities by 2015, by February 1, 2012. That plan will also have to include the funding plan for any such improvements.
Personally, I can't imagine that Kroenke doesn't somehow have designs of owning the Rams future facility outright, probably with some help via tax breaks, etc. and maybe the NFL, based on Mortensen's claim that the new labor deal "will address stadium funding."
It's all going to be very intriguing to watch. And the first marker in the Rams home field saga will be the details of the coming labor deal, followed closely by a Feb. 1 deadline.