At least one NFL team makes waves every offseason by claiming they need a new stadium. In recent years, teams have relocated when they haven’t gotten their way. The St. Louis Rams returned to Los Angeles after a new stadium wasn’t forthcoming in the Gateway City. The San Diego Chargers, a part of the Southern Californian city for over half a century, moved north to Los Angeles to rent from the Rams.
The Oakland Raiders, who moved once to Los Angeles and back again to Oakland due to their desire to gain a new venue, are set for relocation to Las Vegas in 2020.
While many teams fight with local officials over new stadiums, it is difficult to argue that cities around the United States merely rent their NFL teams. The Buffalo Bills are said to “need a new stadium” badly. It could influence the franchise to relocate as rumblings over a new venue have been slow to get anything concrete set.
Interestingly, the Bills’ New Era Field is one of only two NFL stadiums to be built with 100% public funds. It is also said the ageing Buffalo stadium is one of the best venues to watch a football game in due to its character.
The fight over new stadiums for NFL teams has led to some interesting facts being released by the LA Times. The newspaper states only four NFL teams actual own and operate their own stadiums. Forbes valued the average NFL team at $2.57 billion in September 2018. Yet, 28 NFL franchises rent their stadiums and depend on local cities and states to take care of many of the costs of the venues.
Twenty-eight American cities rent their NFL teams. It is a surprising number and despite the amount of money involved with the football league, it shows 28 franchises do not want to lay down roots and build their own ground. Of course, the expense of a stadium is astronomical, yet, cities around the country pony up extreme amounts of money that could go elsewhere into the community. Many of the stadiums, it must be said, are a combination of public and private funds.
In 2017, the Daily Signal reported on the amount of money NFL owners have sponged from taxpayers. Federal taxpayers have paid $3.2 billion for 36 NFL stadiums to be constructed between 2000 and 2017.
The biggest issue with the amount of money that has been sunken into NFL grounds is the continued research that shows local communities see very few overall financial benefits. It is difficult to see benefits when just eight games, at the very minimum, are played each year at home. There is even evidence in some cases that shows communities are negatively affected by the building of large stadiums.
Many of the NFL’s iconic stadiums are, in fact, not owned by the teams that play in them. The Dallas Cowboys play at AT&T Stadium, which cost $1.2bn to build. The stadium isn’t owned by Jerry Jones and/or the Cowboys, rather by the city of Arlington. The Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears both rent their iconic grounds from the cities in which they play.
So, which four NFL teams actually own their own stadiums? It is four teams NFL fans may not expect: the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams, and Carolina Panthers. With issues continuing to mount over stadium funding, cities, states, and football fans continue to okay money to build stadiums and facilities for NFL teams.
America’s love of the NFL has made it normal for teams to push for state- and city-funded stadiums. With a lack of evidence that a minimum of eight NFL games a year brings in positive benefits for a city, fans should question who needs who more?