In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about the battle for hearts and minds to win and keep sports franchises, from front offices, to fans, city halls, and governors mansions.
You can read the full column below.
There is a trend in California. Businesses and people are leaving the state in droves. The population is indeed changing in the Golden State.
The San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) did not leave the state of California, but they did leave America’s Finest City for the City of Angels (Los Angeles, California). The Oakland Raiders left to the neighboring state of Nevada for a better stadium, more opportunity, and a growing population and fan base in Las Vegas. The Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB) have been negotiating with the City of Oakland, California for many years as their stadium is considered one of less desirable places to play in the Country. Unfortunately, a twenty year discussion with Alameda County and the City of Oakland has only led to more negotiations between the club and the elected officials.
The Oakland Athletics and City of Oakland find themselves at a crossroads. The club and authorities are either going to make the Howard Terminal project work or the A’s are likely to move to a location on the Las Vegas Strip. Like the Chicago Bears and the City of Chicago, there is a battle between old and new, investment and larger investment, and location.
When a sports franchise leaves a city, there is a clearly loss and gain. Then again, as the Chinese proverb goes, “A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, ‘Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!’ The farmer replied, ‘Maybe so, maybe not. We'll see.’” The City of San Diego saved millions of dollars by seeing the Chargers leave for Los Angeles. The former stadium has been redeveloped and is for all intents and purposes a successful venture.
If the Athletics leave Oakland, they will likely have accepted a deal for a new domed stadium on the Las Vegas strip paid with private funding and some government subsidies. They will leave behind a fan base that has enjoyed the easy-to-love team made even more popular by the film Moneyball. The Oakland franchise has indeed moved before: from Philadelphia, to Kansas City, to Oakland. A fourth move is becoming more and more likely by the day.
The most impacted by a move will be the fans. The fans will of course miss their hometown team. Then again, Las Vegas is a short flight from any Bay Area airport. The city losing the team likely loses out on any taxes and tourist dollars, but also saves when not having to expend citizen and taxpayer resources towards keeping a team from leaving. The city accepting the team is likely to gain from tourist dollars and taxes, but is also likely to spend more on convincing the team to move and to keep them happy enough to stay.
Therein lies the problem. One city’s gain is another city’s loss, but the gain and loss are not mutually exclusive. In many ways, a sports franchise is both tangible and intangible in its affects and effects. Like a scout trying to ascertain a players abilities, there are some feelings and some numbers, and objective and subjective points of reference. A sports franchise is both a matter of the heart and a part of doing business. History has shown that in a world of money, business usually wins, which is not to pass judgement, but maybe to be viewed as a loved one, with us for some time, then gone (although a flight to the afterlife might be a bit different then to Vegas). From a financial management and stewardship standpoint, elected officials need to make the best decision for the people that elected them to their roles and posts. Citizens need to possibly put their complete trust in something more reliable than a sports franchise. Although an occasional flirtation is both exhilarating and a part of the fabric of the American pastime.
About Jeremy M. Evans:
Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.
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