Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – a terrific show that I highly recommend to anyone who happens to have HBO – did an excellent piece last night on the borderline fraudulent activity of many professional sports teams when it comes to stadium funding practices. While the Texans have yet to show any signs of wanting to leave Houston if and when NRG Stadium becomes "obsolete", old school Houston Oilers fans know all too well what it is like to be held hostage by an owner who threatens relocation.
As a Southern California resident myself who very much wants to see a team come to Los Angeles, I feel somewhat guilty for being on the "other side" of many Rams, Chargers, and Raiders fans’ pain. They do not want to lose their teams any more than Houstonians did when Bud Adams abandoned the city, yet that is likely what is about to happen for at least two of these fan bases.
That being said, I have an immense respect for these cities for standing up to these teams in the first place and calling their bluffs. Public funds – at least in theory – should benefit the highest percentage of the public as possible. Things like roads, schools, hospitals, transportation systems, and utility maintenance benefit everyone, while stadiums really only benefit the people in the area who actually care about the team in question in the first place. Despite all of our love for the Texans, at the end of the day professional sports teams are a luxury item, not a necessity.
My heart breaks for Rams fans in Missouri that might not have a team to root for next season, but at the same time it feels good to know that those hundreds of millions of unspent dollars can now possibly go towards fixing the things in St. Louis that are actually broken.