5 NFL Teams that Need a Change of Scenery
5 NFL Teams that Need a Change of Scenery
There are teams in the NFL that just need a change. Some need a change of coach, some need a change of management, and some just need a change of profession. And then there are some teams that need a change of scenery. Perhaps their home is a bit of a fixer-upper and needs some redecoration, or perhaps a whole new zip code is in order.
The truth of the matter is that the average fans spending their hard-earned money to attend a game and cheer on their favorite teams is not the big revenue-maker for the league. Rather, the luxury boxes and corporate deals are what bring in the big bucks. If you want to attract the big spenders, that means having nothing less than state-of-the-art luxury boxes and the like. Without these amenities, older stadiums and smaller franchises across the league struggle to pull in the money that matches the big-market teams.
Considering the insane success and profitability of the sport, even the worse-off teams are taking a nice cut of the $9 billion pie, so my heart isn’t exactly bleeding for any of these teams. Business-wise, however, outdated stadiums can spell financial doom for franchises and some these stadiums are in desperate (well, desperate in the sense that only millionaires and billionaires can be) need of renovations.
Additionally, with the NFL continuing to expand across borders and oceans, talk of a non-United States-based team is rising. In a less drastic way, the city of Los Angeles’ public desire for an NFL franchise has some owners across the league mulling a move.
Here are five teams that need either a new stadium or a new city:
The Minnesota Vikings are interesting because, unlike the other teams on this list, they’re not having trouble selling tickets. Last year, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome sold an average of 98% of its capacity for their home games. Anyone who has been to the site, however, cannot help but comment on how how small the stadium is and how outdated it is. The Metrodome is last in the league in stadium-generated revenue.
In 2010, the roof collapsed under the weight of snow and ice, forcing Minnesota to play their final two home games of the season elsewhere. Most took the roof collapse to be a sign from God telling Brett Favre to go away forever, but it also probably had something to do with the stadium.
The Vikings have been fighting for a new stadium for few years now but - surprise, surprise - $975 million project proposals often meet with opposition. Currently, there is an agreement for a new stadium to be built on the same site by the 2016 season, but the Vikings have faced obstacles from local government.
Paul Brown Stadium sold just 75.2% of its capacity in 2011, by far the worst percentage in the league. They averaged just 49,251 attendees to the Cincinnati Bengals’ home games - more than 7,000 fewer than the next lowest stadium.
Not only can the Bengals not fill up the stadium, but the cost of the stadium is staggering. Considered the worst stadium deal ever, the venue accounted for 16.4% of the county’s budget last year - ten years after it was built. Originally estimated to cost $288 million, the cost to taxpayers (including related costs like special parking structures) is thought to be closer to $555 million.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have struggled to fill seats since they opened EverBank Field in 1995. Last season, the Jaguars filled 92.8% of their seats. Doesn’t sound half bad, right? Well, it was 24th in the league and doesn’t account for the fact that the Jaguars tarped more than 9,000 seats in a bid to reduce capacity and up the percentage. Even with the reduced capacity, local television blackouts have been an issue in Jacksonville for years.
Jacksonville recently has agreed to take part in the annual London game at least four times in upcoming seasons. Why not? They’re not really giving up much of a home field advantage.
This isn’t really so much a question of the stadium. Jacksonville just hasn’t proven to be a big enough market to support an NFL franchise. The 2005 Super Bowl in Jacksonville was a disaster simply because the city is too small and too spread out for an event like that. As the second-smallest market in the league, Jacksonville’s only chance at generating revenue is to start winning. A lot. And now.
That’s not going to happen.
There are several reasons that the Oakland Raiders seem primed for a move: they were 29th in the league last season in average home game attendance with under 60,000 attendees per game; the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is 33 years old; the team is in a transition phase because of the death of longtime owner Al Davis in 2011; the team’s lease is up at the end of the 2013 season; and the Raiders share the venue with the Oakland A’s, so for part of the year, there’s that weird baseball diamond dirt patch in the middle of the field that drives me crazy and seems terribly unsafe.
Another reason the Raiders often come to mind when the subject of relocation comes up is that the prime relocation site is Los Angeles, and an in-state transition makes more sense than a long haul. Furthermore, the Raiders obviously have connections in L.A., having been the Los Angeles Raiders from 1982-1994 before returning to Oakland.
I don’t know that the Raiders have a huge incentive to move, however. Upon their return to Oakland in 1994, the city was so happy to have them back that they gave them a sweet deal, including ultra-low rent and no maintenance costs. A move to L.A. might give them a temporary revenue boost, but they won’t be financially successful until they find some sort of on-field success.
San Diego Chargers
Like Oakland, the discussion of the San Diego Chargers relocating is due in part to its relative proximity to Los Angeles. But that’s not the only reason. The Chargers haven’t been able to sell tickets like other teams. Last year, they were 25th in the league in percentage of seats sold at home games.
Qualcomm Stadium is 43 years old and has not had any major renovations done in the last 15 years. Interestingly enough, the Chargers also have an annual escape clause in their contract with Qualcomm Stadium that allows them to leave, providing they pay off all the outstanding bonds from the 1997 renovations.
Qualcomm hosted three Super Bowls from 1988-2003, but the NFL has made it perfectly clear that San Diego will not be hosting another Super Bowl until it has a new stadium. The Chargers have been searching for a new stadium site and deal for the greater part of the last decade. If they are unable to get a deal in San Diego, the owners have made it known that they would consider a move to L.A.