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Stadium deals: NFL version of Powerball with superior odds
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The odds of a Powerball player striking it rich are 1 in 292.2 million

The odds of National Football League owners striking the Mother Lode are 1 in 1.

The truck driver, teacher, store clerk, farmworker, or janitor seek billions at the corner store paying $2 a ticket out of their own pocket to chase long odds.

The NFL money takes money out of the pocket of truck drivers, teachers, store clerks, farmworkers, and janitors — and anyone else taxed for the “common good” — to parlay their hills of money into mountains of cash.

The Los Angeles stadium deal is being ballyhooed as a $1 billion deal that doesn’t take a cent in public subsidizes to build. The fine print in the 185-page plan developers filed with Inglewood officials to convert the old Hollywood Park race track into a state-of-the-art stadium with revenue generating luxury suites says otherwise. It calls for Inglewood to reimburse the billionaires and millionaires building the stadium so they can further expand their fortunes some $60 million plus for roads and utilities to service the 300-acre site.  Another $8 million or so a year would flow from Inglewood municipal coffers to reimburse wealthy owners for the costs of security, medical services, and shuttles for off-site parking during any event at the stadium whether it is an NFL football game or concert.

In 25 years — the outer end of the life expectancy of a relationship between billionaires and host cities before they get restless and start searching for an even richer gold vein to mine — the non-subsidized stadium plan will cost taxpayers $260 million. But to be clear, the minions that wave the palm leaves to keep NFL millionaires and billionaires comfortable aren’t technically lying. None of the money will help build the actual stadium. Instead, it simply fattens the bottom line for billionaires and millionaires.

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance shifted through documents connected with 29 of the NFL’s 31 stadiums built during the past 20 years that obtained public funds for renovation or construction. Taxpayers spent $7 billion. Meanwhile, the NFL rakes in more than $10 billion a year in revenues.

Just how important is a new stadium to increasing the wealth of NFL owners? A Bloomberg analysis in 2012 looked at new stadiums built since 2000. The bottom line showed that new stadiums doubled the value of NFL teams.

Los Angeles not having a team for almost two decades in the nation’s second largest media marketplace gave team owners a great present — fear.

At one time or another at least 17 NFL team owners used the threat of packing up and moving to Los Angeles to extract subsidies from cities where they were currently at to get a replacement stadium or renovation of their existing stadium.

The Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks in 1995 were the first to play the “We’re-Going-to-Move-to-LA-Unless-You-Cough-Up-More-Money” game. The most recent were the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders.

Even San Francisco played the Los Angeles card.

The funny thing about LA, though, is it may not increase the ultimate NFL gravy train — TV revenues.

The Raiders returned to Oakland and the Rams fled to St. Louis when the LA fan base started treating them like they did the Anaheim Angels of old — with aloofness. 

Nielsen Media shows the Sunday daytime game audience in the Los Angeles Basin is so dismal that it ranks as the 42nd highest viewership out of the nation’s 56 largest markets even though LA is the No. 2 market on that list.

NFL brass thinks having not just one but two teams in the LA market will boost TV viewership and strengthen their arguments to demand even more money in future broadcast deals with networks. That may backfire. The San Francisco Bay Area as well as New York City both have two teams and they are even lower in Sunday NFL TV viewership.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact there are a lot of other things to do in areas such as San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles on a Sunday winter afternoon than places like St. Louis, Omaha, and Buffalo especially when a team isn’t winning.

As for the Raiders staying put in Oakland, we’ll see.

The Raiders are the lowest revenue generating NFL team in the most antiquated stadium in the league.

And while the Bay Area is the poster child for growth and upward mobility thanks to the sizzling high-tech sector, Oakland is the stepchild city after San Jose, San Francisco and a whole list of smaller communities from Atherton to Sunnyvale.

It is why Golden State is heading across the Bay Bridge. It is why the Oakland A’s are going nuts because they can’t pull up stakes and move to San Jose.

In order to make a non-subsidized stadium work in Oakland as city officials say they want, it will take a lot more than fine print “kickbacks.” There needs to be a retail/housing component that makes sense and is lucrative for private sector investment.

The Raiders’ Mark Davis may indeed by the only NFL team owner with a better chance of increasing his wealth buying Powerball tickets than increasing his bottom line by brokering concessions in exchange for his team staying put.