When the final vote came down for NFL owners regarding the proposal that would send the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, there was but one dissent. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was that lone “no” vote, and after some time passed Monday he revealed his true motivation for dissenting.
Dolphin owner Stephen Ross said NFL owners should be able to finance their own stadiums, rather than require public money.
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) March 28, 2017
Most of us would likely agree with Ross here. After all, despite the political drivel included in sales pitches to get NFL stadiums built, the owners are the ones who get rich in the end — not the public which supports these billion-dollar ventures.
But despite that fact, it’s also true that NFL stadiums don’t typically get built without those funds.
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is a rare exception, though even in that deal with the city there was a huge loan involved, and the NFL contributed $200 million.
The fact that cities like San Diego and Oakland no longer have teams has everything to do with this. Neither city was willing to invest as much public funds that the teams demanded to build new venues.
Las Vegas surely was. To the tune of $950 million in the end (more on that here). And we don’t necessarily blame Mark Davis for happily accepting that money to give his team a state-of-the-art stadium in the years to come.
And it’s worth pointing out that Davis has a net worth of approximately $500 million, while Ross is worth $7.4 billion.
That said, Ross isn’t wrong. The fact that stadiums are built for multi-million, if not multi-billion-dollar sports teams to play in yet are typically heavily subsidized by public funding isn’t right. Owners need to foot the bills. Owners need to be fully invested into their own teams.
This is what Stephen Ross himself did in Miami, privately funding the restoration of Sun Life Stadium, now known as Hard Rock Stadium.
That’s the right approach, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the rest of the NFL to follow in his footsteps.