Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"The New Frontier In Stadium Ripoffs"

This Deadspin piece from Drew Magary (which I somewhat reluctantly bleeped in a couple of places to keep our blog's PG rating) is a great, if infuriating, read. It also hits on some of the most ominous concerns of 2016 -- abuse of concentrated economic power (particularly involving monopolies), a willingness to subsidize the rich, growing social and journalistic acceptance of the unacceptable -- and it reminds us of how important the remnants of Gawker Media continue to be.

In case you missed it last week, the great Jason Gay over at the Wall Street Journal covered the opening of the Cowboys’ new practice facility in Frisco, Texas—a wealthy exurb located 30 miles due north of Dallas. Of course, this being the Cowboys, we’re not talking about a mere practice facility. No, this joint—christened The Star—features a high school football stadium, a health research center, a shopping center, a dining concourse, a members-only country club ($4,500 to join, plus $350 a month in dues), a hotel, a rooftop pool, a parking garage, and a fucking golf course. The total price tag for the whole development is $1.5 billion, an estimated $300 million HIGHER than the cost of the Cowboys’ stadium itself.

It will not shock you to learn that the Cowboys didn’t pay for this all by themselves. In fact, the team staged a bidding war between Frisco and Arlington (home to Jerryworld and an outrageously unnecessary future ballpark for the Texas Rangers) for the privilege of hosting The Star, with Frisco offering somewhere between $90 and $115 million to help foot the tab, with $30 million of that money coming directly from the local school district. Of course, that doesn’t factor in the potential tax breaks that Jerry Jones will probably get for charitably lending the spoiled brats of Frisco a field to play on.

This is not the first time a pro sports team has squeezed an eager town out of money for something other than a stadium. Just this year, the city of Richmond cut a $360,994 check to Dan Snyder and the Skins for the privilege of hosting the team’s summer training camp, as part of a deal in which the city built the team a $10 million facility and then, bafflingly, pays them a yearly stipend to use it. Turns out that this was not a wise investment. In order to build Snyder his training camp, the city of Richmond and the Skins conspired to seize land (oh, the irony) from a local school district, land valued at $7.5 million that could have been used to build additional school facilities, or sold off to boost revenue. Instead, it was gifted to an asshole football team that plays 100 miles away.

Any team can f**k a town over to build a stadium. The new hotness is thinking of ancillary facilities besides a stadium and then f**king over a second town for THAT, too. And since Jerry Jones owns the richest team with the largest fanbase—in a wealthy area where brains and good taste aren’t at a premium—he has managed to engineer a new crown jewel of boondoggles, a standard of monstrous waste that all other teams will now aspire to.

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