What’s the sweet deal of a Los Angeles stadium?

The Los Angeles Times reports today that another stadium developer is sweetening a deal to lure a football team to the city that’s already lost two of them.

Real estate developer Ed Roski has dropped his demand that he get a piece of whatever franchise moves to his proposed stadium. He’d give the 600 acres to the team, which would finance — but not own — the stadium construction, although it would get all the money it makes.

“I am continuing to work to bring NFL football back to Los Angeles. The stadium at Grand Crossing creates a winning environment for fans, for the community and for the NFL now,” he said in an e-mail to the newspaper.

When a developer starts giving away land, it’s a clue that the original deal wasn’t that great to begin with.

In Los Angeles, developers are competing with each other over a stadium. A second, more popular proposal calls for the developer — AEG — to build the stadium, with the carpetbagging team getting the bulk of the money it generates.

Stadium supporters in Minnesota have framed the debate here as either Minnesota or LA, but there may not be an LA option for the Vikings. The San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers are all being mentioned as likely tenants of a stadium in Los Angeles.

That, the paper suggests, is just the way the NFL wants it. The more teams whispering about moving, the more the cities hosting teams now will sacrifice to keep them. The conversation happening in those cities – Buffalo, for one example, Jacksonville for another — is much the same as the one happening here.

Today, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, recasting the headline on the L.A. Times story, took the bait:

Vikings fans, beware: L.A. stadium proposal just got more attractive

More attractive? Sure. But it wasn’t that attractive to begin with. The restructured deal still would require a team to take a significant financial risk in paying for the actual cost of the stadium. That’s not something the Vikings are will to do now for a $1.1 billion stadium in Minnesota. Why would they do it in Los Angeles?

During his appearance on Midmorning today, Vikings stadium point man Lester Bagley reiterated the private investment plan here is $400 million. That won’t build much in Los Angeles. Under the Roski proposal, the Vikings would need to pay about $885 million.

“It’s the third largest contribution in league history,” Bagley said of the amount the Vikings would spend for stadium construction here. “And we’re in a small market.”

But Bagley’s “third largest” assertion also is without important context. The two “largest contributions” in league history were owners who picked up the full tab of their stadium — Robert Kraft in New England and Jerry Jones in Dallas.

There are only two stadiums that cost more than the one the Vikings are proposing: Dallas ($1.2 billion) and New Jersey ($1.6 billion). No public money went into the construction in Dallas. Only 28 percent of the cost in New Jersey was public money.

Private investment in football stadiums has averaged 46% recently, a study commissioned by the San Diego Chargers said. The Vikings have insisted their contribution is 44% of the actual cost of building the stadium.

The Vikings have never come out and said they’d move the team to Los Angeles if the public didn’t kick in $650 million for a new stadium. But, they haven’t had to.

  • C

    The threat of LA is just blackmail.

    The owners will never approve a Vikings move to LA, not when Jacksonville, Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis could actually make money there. Minneapolis is a healthy market, and there are several struggling markets (Raider games are often blacked out in the bay for lack of ticket sales, for example.) where the NFL isn’t making money.

  • matt

    I am thinking about an OccupyMallOfAmericaField movement. Corporatism sucks in sports just as much as it does in banking.

  • http://www.thedeets.com Ed Kohler

    The Vikings organization also tends to lie with statistics when throwing around their 3rd largest contribution in league history by referring to raw dollars rather than the percentage of a deal. If previous deals are compared in 2011 dollars or as a percentage of the entire deal, the statement doesn’t carry as much weight.

    For example, Detroit’s stadium had $330 million in 2002 dollars / 75% private funding on a stadium that cost $440 million to build at that time.