Stadiums aren’t cheap and the Stanley Cup Final is just about set!

Marc Elliott

MT. ROYAL … I grew up around football before my love of hockey took center stage and the top spot in my sports world. I still like to watch it even if I loathe the NFL, mostly based upon some of their business practices and outright phoniness it displays at times. All of that aside I am also predisposed to make some social and political observations at times, and can’t help making one tonight even though I normally prefer not to write about them. But upon this weekend with the NFL kicking off its regular season, I have watched some football on and off today. Not full bore though. For instance, I was watching the Viking-Packer tilt until today’s Stanley Cup game came on and that was it for football. It was easy after the game was effectively over for the Vikes due to the way they played out the last minute of the first half.

I was switching over regardless, but when the Pack scored 14 points in 25 seconds, I knew the rest of the game was not going to be worth watching from the perspective of a Viking fan, and from that of a fan who may be wanting to see a solid, competitive game. But before the citizens of Green Bay get all excited, my opinion is that the NFC Super Bowl entrant this year won’t be your guys. It seems clear to me that the NFC North doesn’t have what I’d refer to as an upper-level club.

What caught my attention this evening was in watching the pregame show before the DAL vs. LAR game. This was played in the Ram’s new So-Fi Stadium which cost a whopping $5bil to construct. The network also played a graphic highlighting the league’s new stadiums built in the recent past, along with the cost of construction of each. Also coming online here shortly will be the Las Vegas Raiders new facility, which has a tab of just shy of $2bil. A quick search shows that 7 new stadiums have been constructed in the past 10 years for NFL teams with at least 2 more on the way.

Unlike past practices of the NFL, whereby the league demanded local taxpayer-funded stadium construction and threatened team relocation if they didn’t receive it, the So-Fi facility is privately financed although the developer is negotiating for substantial tax advantages. The Raiders building is a combo of public-private finance. In Vegas, Clark County issued Municipal Bonds that sold out quickly. The team’s share of construction was covered by a mix of bank and league loans and then personal seat licenses, stadium naming rights, and all else designed to minimize any actual funding from the team owner’s personal funds.

Stuck in my craw at this very moment is the tidbit I discovered that states that the Local Government cannot be paid any rent or get any revenue sharing from the facility because that would not be “compatible” with the tax-exempt bonds issued to cover the local governments share of the investment to build the stadium. So I guess it’s the usual-usual, the team owners have a minimal personal financial contribution to the project but stand to reap the most benefits from it. They’ll cover their posterior with the usual “job creation” commentary, financial impact, tax creation, and the like of which study after study has shown to be negligible at best. So it’s the usual NFL bologna with a new suit of clothes.

My social observation though of this construction trend? Our country is going through a pretty poor year from just about every conceivable angle, especially financially. We lead the world in NO important categories anymore, such as education and healthcare. Sure, these new stadiums were on the books long before the pandemic hit, but still, speak to our overall dysfunction and misguided priorities in this country. We would appear to alien anthropologists to be consumed by entertainment, violence, and empire. We are preoccupied with our own self-gratification in its various forms, we live in a country with a maniacal lust for empire via its shadow owners and leaders, and we seem to only be able to obtain and hold on to it through violent means. I turned my TV off after the stadium clip …

THE STANLEY CUP Conference Finals continued over the weekend and have placed two teams on the verge of making the Cup Final. In a twist of fate the Dallas Stars have taken a 3 games to 1 lead over the favored Vegas Golden Knights, and just this afternoon the Tampa Bay Lightning put themselves in a similar position via a 4-1 win over the NY Isles. By the time this edition of The Reader hits the stands, the Cup Final may be all set.  My personal feeling is that that is what will happen.

In watching the DAL-VGK G4 last night, won by the Stars in a 2-1 decision, I couldn’t help but note a couple of things in the game and this series. Vegas Coach Pete DeBoer, who I actually like, even when he was with the SJS and NJD, has a tendency to shorten his bench when games get tight and when his team is in a corner. A loss by the VGK would put them in a 3-1 series deficit. In the final two minutes of this tilt, with a couple of guys banged up and some double shifting going on, the Vegas boys just came across to me as gassed. Their legs looked heavy and their shots didn’t have their usual zip and their star forwards haven’t been lighting the lamp. With a tilt coming up tomorrow eve, (MON) I wonder if this is the end of the line for them. I have a feeling that’s what is about to happen. DAL will make their first Cup Final since winning it in 1999. Did Coach Pete panic too soon?

THE BOLTS were the pick on many analysts and fan dance cards prior to the tourney. So, is Tuesday night the end of the line for the Isles? I feel that will also be the case. They have had a remarkable run but are just shy of the level of the Bolts roster. Based on my view of this afternoon’s G4, I feel that Tampa will wrap this series up in G5 Tuesday night. In 4 tilts the Bolts have outscored the Isles by a 17-9 margin. Sorry, but that speaks volumes to me. And with Andrei Vasilevsky in goal for Tampa, he is on his game and performing at a very high level right now. I think it would require a herculean effort for the Isles to notch G5 Tuesday and send this series to a sixth tilt.

I am impressed by the Star’s energy and camaraderie right now. They have the skill and talent necessary too. The Bolts seem to be a bit more businesslike in their game approach at this point. I can’t sell either one short, but I’d roll with Tampa if this is the Final … PEACE