Cities Held Hostage By Sports Owners?

I usually only concern myself about baseball as it pertains to young players, coaches and parents. I leave the larger philosophical issues to the big boys, like ESPN and the likes.

I’ll admit I’m as guilty as anybody else of only paying attention to what concerns my home town MLB team, my beloved St. Louis Cardinals, but reading an article about the Miami Marlins and their treatment of their fans made my blood boil.

I’m not here to place blame or take sides because I don’t have the facts, but the question I want to raise, “Are professional sports teams holding cities hostage?”

When a city, which means taxpayers, agree to foot the bill for a professional sports teams’ stadium, regardless of sport, have the team owners become partners with the city, or masters of the city?

Professional sports will claim they are a private enterprise and can do whatever they wish with the team, which includes moving to another city or stripping the team of its best players and the city has no legal rights to protest.

Now I’m not a business genius and I know private business of all sorts negotiate tax benefits and certain commitments from cities regarding sewers, streets, etc, but they don’t wrangle a completely cost free, taxpayer paid 10 story office building then occupy only one office with two employees and leave the rest of the complex vacant.

Worse yet, they don’t come back to the city three years later and demand the city pay for remodeling of the building or else the company will move to another city leaving the city stuck with a vacant building and a huge financial burden.

I hope you’re reading this and thinking “How absurd this scenario is,” but this is exactly what professional sports teams do. The midnight move of the Colts to Indianapolis from Baltimore, Houston to Tennessee, the Rams to St. Louis and I could go on and on.

Speaking of the Rams, they have succeeded in their demands that St. Louis foot the bill for a 700 million dollar refurbishing of their stadium or the building of a brand new stadium. Granted the Rams gave fans thrills including a Super Bowl Trophy, but that was under different ownership.

The current owner has a less than spectacular record of fielding an NFL caliber team, yet holds the city hostage for an absorbent ransom with the threat of leaving town.

Professional sports leagues are monopolies. “Whip sawing” which is the act of playing one entity against another, in order to get the best deal for themselves, in this case one city against another, is the only private business actions the leagues and business have in common.

Cities, which actually means real life people of the community, who bust their rumps everyday scratching out a living, and pay for these palaces through their taxes, deserve better than being treated like serfs. If the MLB and NFL specifically, do not change their grandiose opinion of themselves in regards to people, then just like AT&T and other monopolies they should be broken up.

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