The Washington Redskins can build their own stadium

washington redskinsDaniel Snyder is playing Maryland, Virginia and D.C. against each other to see who will give him the sweetheartest deal for a new stadium for his Washington Redskins.

None of the three should fall for it.

I’m all for economic-development deals using public dollars to bring industry and jobs to a locality, but there has to be a benefit to the locality, and a stadium for a professional sports team doesn’t bring that.

And on the scale of sports industries, football is the one that generates the least possible revenue at and around its stadium.

It’s simple math: an NFL stadium is used for an NFL game 10 times a year: for eight regular-season home games and two preseason home games.

You can argue that, OK, but the stadium also gets used for big concerts, to which I say, there are only so many times you can book Jay-Z and Beyonce or Taylor Swift, who are on the short, short list of performers who can sell out a football stadium these days.

But even then, you get a couple of more dates a year out of your football stadium, which otherwise sits fallow the other 350-plus days a year.

That’s a lot of days to sit empty considering the cost: we’re talking billion, with a b-, for the NFL’s two newest stadiums, in Atlanta and Minneapolis, and a 2010 proposal for a new stadium in D.C. proper had a price tag of $2 billion.

Wow, indeed, and then you consider the kinds of jobs that are created in and around a football stadium: which are not the support-a-family kinds of jobs that you’d hope and expect to get out of such a significant public investment.

We’re not talking high-tech jobs, manufacturing jobs: we’re talking food-service jobs, hospitality jobs, that pay 60 percent of what the average U.S. job pays, much less what jobs in the more productive sectors pay.

Oh, and they’re seasonal: see the part about how the stadium is empty most of the year. For all the talk you get from team owners and their development partners about how they also have designs on building restaurants, hotels and retail around their new stadiums, the only walk-up traffic those businesses will get will come a day or two before a game and on game day, and these days are all in the months of September, October, November and December.

(Don’t even suggest that I’m forgetting the possibility of January. Seriously, the Redskins, in the playoffs?)

So, a lot of money, for not a lot of bang, the bang, such as it is, limited to portions of four months of the year.

I wish Daniel Snyder (net worth: $2.2 billion) the best of luck in being able to build a new home for his football team. If he can’t do it himself, maybe he can find a few among his billionaire buddies to pony up shares to make it come to fruition.

Speaking as a taxpayer and voter – not to mention writer and editor – in the Commonwealth of Virginia, one red cent of the money that I send to the state treasury goes toward a new ‘Skins stadium, and I’ll do my best to make sure that the people responsible don’t get to make those kinds of dumb decisions again.

Column by Chris Graham


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