The Atlanta Falcons have a new stadium deal to replace the 21-year-old Georgia Dome. The public will pay $200 million of a $1 billion price tag, with the remaining $800 million coming from the Falcons and the NFL. The public will pay via bonds, which will be financed by Atlanta's hotel-motel tax. If all goes well, the Falcons will have shiny new digs in 2017, whereupon the Buccaneers can proceed to start winning games in whatever that stadium will be called.
It's not a sweetheart deal in the style of the Dallas Cowboys' stadium ($1.15 million stadium, $325 million in public financing), but that's a pretty sizable amount of money. And the fact that the Falcons -- or any NFL team -- would need public financing for its stadiums seems a little specious when you look at the profit these teams make. In comes Deadspin, which has managed to unearth audited financial statements over the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 financial years.
Surprise: Jerry Richardson's team had an operating profit of $112 million over those two seasons. You could buy a whole new stadium from ten years of that kind of profit. And here's the interesting bit: that includes one year under the old collective bargaining agreement. You know, the one the NFL owners and especially Jerry Richardson fought so very hard to replace because it was supposedly unsustainable? The Panthers made a whopping $78.7 million in profit that year. It gets even more comical, though, because that profit is only going to rise. The NFL has recently signed new TV deals which will go into effect over the coming years, giving them ever more money.
The NFL is making money hand over fist. And how do they do this? Well, apparently, by bullying the players into accepting a worse CBA for really no good reason, and then getting some good old public financing for its stadiums. Hey, if you can get the public to pay for your profit, why not, right?
Keep all of this in mind when, in a few years' time, the Buccaneers come asking the public for money to fund its new stadium it so desperately needs. The Georgia Dome is just six years younger than Raymond James Stadium, after all.