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Should NFL Teams Pay For Their Stadiums?

Public funds have been fueling the construction of sports venues for decades, but one NFL owner argues that the NFL teams themselves should be funding their new stadiums.

NFL: Oakland Raiders-Las Vegas Relocation Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Should public funds be used for new NFL stadiums?

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With the news that the NFL approved the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Las Vegas, there are now THREE teams (Raiders, Rams and Chargers) heading to new digs within a couple of years of each other. The driver behind all three moves is new stadium facilities to provide a higher quality venue and increased revenue opportunities.

At least one NFL owner feels that the public shouldn’t be shouldering the costs, that the teams should pay for new stadiums and improvements to existing stadiums.

ESPN reports:

The only owner to vote against the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told reporters here on Monday that he believes Raiders owner Mark Davis did not use all of his options to get a stadium deal done in Oakland.

"I was more interested really in the fans in Oakland, and what a team means to the city," Ross said. "That's my primary concern. I think that's who you take into consideration first. You have to exhaust everything to try and stay in a city."

Owners voted 31-1 to approve the Raiders application to relocate to Las Vegas. The Raiders received an unprecedented $750 million in public money to build a new stadium for the team. Ross, who voted against the project, recently paid for over $500 million in stadium improvements at Hard Rock Stadium -- the home for the Dolphins -- and believes owners should foot the bill for new stadiums in their markets rather than asking for public money.

"You've got to look around," Ross said. "There's very little public money available for teams today. And if you own a team, you should have the deep pockets to deliver. You need some public money for infrastructure and things like that. But with the costs of stadiums today, our country can't afford to put all of the money in those things."

Including this $750 million for the Raiders new home in Las Vegas, nearly $7 billion of public funding has fueled the development of 21 stadiums and three major renovations in the last couple of decades.

Another article from ESPN provided the following:

That oughta do it. The NFL's two-decade blitz of stadium development largely ended this week with the granddaddy of them all: a nearly $1 billion gift from the tax coffers of Nevada to lure the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

With the Raiders' future settled, there are no more NFL stadium flashpoints on the near horizon and -- more importantly -- no obvious cities to be used as leverage against municipalities that refuse to provide public assistance. Perhaps the only team with a looming issue is the Buffalo Bills, who might soon push to replace 44-year-old New Era Stadium, but they have a lease through 2023 and are just three years removed from $130 million in taxpayer-funded renovations.

So after an era in which 21 new stadiums were built and three others were heavily renovated, thanks in large part to an estimated $6.7 billion in public money, the league appears to have hit a natural resting point. Monday, I asked Eric Grubman -- the NFL's executive vice president and point person on stadium politics -- if he agreed.

"Yes and no," Grubman said. He noted there are three catalysts for a stadium crisis: an aging facility, a lack of recent maintenance and a short-term lease.

"If you have those three things," he said, "the owner is going to be looking around -- and other cities are going to be looking around. You don't wake up one day and it happens. There is a drumbeat, and I don't see that drumbeat right now in any other city.

Two stadiums were built entirely with private funding: MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home of the Giants and Jets, and the new stadium near Los Angeles, where the Rams and Chargers will eventually host their home games.

The NFL is making more money than any other sports league in the world, projected to soon haul in $14 billion annually. I strongly agree with the Dolphins’ owner that each team should be funding these venues.

Please remember the rules here regarding “no politics” in your comments, but please offer your opinion on this topic. What say you?