Welcome to the magical economy of the National Football League where the rich get richer and the poor get bombarded by Super Bowl commercials, at least as long as the league keeps its championship game on free, broadcast TV.
Why do I call the NFL economy magical? Think of America’s pro football industry as a checkerboard. Just by moving pieces around the board…not adding franchises, or trimming less successful ones, … no, just by changing the places on its national map, the NFL makes billions.
As our guest today, NY Times sportswriter Ken Belson has reported, transferring the St Louis Rams franchise back to its old home, Los Angeles, “the Rams doubled in value to $2.9 billion.” In fact, Belson reported, the move from America’s #21 TV market to #2 “helped increase the value of all franchises [in the League] by 19 percent.
Of course, for the good deed for his fellow owners, Rams’ boss E. Stanley Kroenke was punished with a $650 million relocation fee that is divvied up and added to the bottom lines of the other 31 franchises…profits from Heaven.
Or Hell, perhaps if you were a Rams fan from St Louis. Or, if you live in San Diego, the now former home of the new Los Angeles Chargers. I’m sure it’s small comfort to those abandoned San Diegans that leaving their #28 TV market for Americans Second TV City won’t make the leagues and its owners as richer as the Rams franchise shift, being the second cuckoo to occupy and robin’s nest simply isn’t the financial bonanza as being first bird in.
But, rest assured, giving 2 new teams to the City of Angels, is devilishly profitable for all the owners in the NFL.
Including Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank (who before he got into football, was a co-founder of Home Depot. But Blank, whose base in Atlanta was secured when the city kicked in $200 million to help build the Falcons a new stadium — the very thing San Diegans refused to do for the Chargers, and thereby lost them – Blank says he wants to give some that money back to the community, by re-developing 2 very run-down neighborhoods near his new ball field. His Foundation has spent $20 million, helped raise at least as much more and plans to keep funding and fund-raising for Atlanta’s Westside development for years to come.
Of course, the economy in Atlanta is not magical, and not everyone in the city, not everyone in the neighborhood being refurbished, sees this as a win-win. Why not? For that we turn to our guest Ken Belson of the NY Times.
Ken Belson is a sports reporter for The New York Times. He writes about the business of sports, including franchise sales, tickets, stadiums and many other topics.