Let's say you want your own stadium, because who doesn't want their own stadium? They're big, shiny, and fit a lot of people. But you don't want an affordable stadium, like some antiquated, abandoned dome that costs less than most New York City apartments. You want a state-of-the-art, modern structure. You may be able to afford a billion dollar stadium -- lucky you! -- but why bother spending your own money when it's just so easy to have someone else pay for it instead? I mean, as the old saying I'm just making up now goes: it takes other people's money to make money.
Still, it must be hard to convince hundreds of principled public officials and millions of citizens to give you money, right? Oh, you could not be more wrong even if you were Matt Millen analyzing a draft board. With my handy, 20-step guide, you too can have your own stadium in no time.
Here's how you're going to do it:
- Offer to pay for less than half of the costs, little of which will come out of your pocket. Few people will ask any questions, and the league will chip in to pay for your share. Plus, you'll be able to license all kinds of kooky stuff once you have a fancy new building to call your own. Sell its naming rights four times over; the Microsoft Starbucks McDonalds Verizon Stadium has a nice ring to it.
- Demand all of the revenue from your new stadium. You will get it.
- Redirect money from schools, emergency services, and parks to your stadium. The money for your stadium will have to come from somewhere. Propose revenue from gambling (everyone hates gambling!) get redirected to fund your stadium. If that doesn't work, propose your own, parallel gambling efforts that will take revenue away from recreational facilities, scholarships, and emergency equipment. Nobody needs such frivolities, what they need is a new sports stadium.
- Don't pay any attention to what the voters think. They will hate this idea, but the press will spin it so it sounds neutral or positive with headlines like "Citizens Remain Split" or "Citizens Ready to Accept Expansion of Gambling to Help Pay For New Stadium". They will even invent an extra 10 percent of responses in a survey to bring the total to 110 percent so the public sounds more favorable for your new stadium. You won't even have to ask the press to do any of this; they'll do it on their own for some reason.
Never talk about the stadium except to talk about how good it will be for the economy. Get biased businesses and economists to make sh*t up. You will create jobs. Your stadium will be so off the hook, people will come from all over to sit in your new stadium furniture. You will host extravagant events that will require people to come from far and wide, and they will spend money at hotels and restaurants when they do. Here's the key: don't be consistent with your numbers. Create 5,500 jobs one day, and 7,500 the next. The more opposition, the larger the economic impact. It doesn't matter that none of it is true.
- Get important governmental officials to be your personal lobbyists. Like the mayor and governor, for example.
- People will ask questions about all those numbers you and your supporters in the government made up, like the $62.5 million in revenue from e-pulltabs. Do you even know what e-pulltabs are? Well, neither does anyone else, so it's cool, they'll just assume it's the type of thing that can raise $62.5 million, like Candy Crush or something.
- It will look like the deal is dead. Don't worry. It's not. Don't let the naysayers get you down with their facts. They won't matter in the end. Don't get discouraged! You're, like, halfway there. (OK, you're less than halfway, but remember, facts don't matter!)
- Are important groups still opposed? Double your estimates. You will now generate $125 million with your magic e-pulltab thingymajigs, which is -- conveniently and astoundedly unobserved -- precisely double your previous estimate. All you did was say to yourself, "Man, that first number wasn't good enough. Better double it." And it worked! See, plenty to go around. Where will this money come from when nothing has fundamentally changed? Is your new plan even legal? No one will ask or care.
- Your first effort might not work, but others will freak out on your behalf. Your league affiliates will float ideas that you're thinking of moving out of the state. Some goofball in LA will write a speculative article about you moving there. Somehow, some way, this will scare the legislature into action. Because you're just so important to the city, much more so than scholarships and emergency services.
- When the big showdown comes in the state legislature, change everything. Change where the money will come from. Change what kinds of gambling you want. Change the percentages. Change everything so no one knows what they're voting on. Oh, you now want a roof, too. It will cost a lot -- nobody knows how much, of course -- but who cares?
- At the last minute, they will ask you pay more. Only agree to half of the proposed increase, at most, even if you're willing to chip in much more. (Let that little tidbit leak after the deal is done just to piss everyone off.) Do not make this concession unless you have all your property taxes exempted, saving you $25 million; this way your "concession" is really just a kickback. Remember, the goal is to get a new stadium for basically nothing. You could always just pay for one yourself, but that's for suckers.
- Congratulations, it's passed! Everyone will realize what they have just done and complain. Don't listen to them, they don't matter.
- Ignore all the people figuring out all the lies you've been spouting. You've already won.
- Nothing's been built, but you're already making money! Simply with the act of signing the bill, you're now worth 22 percent more.
- OK, now you can fix all your crazy numbers. It's OK to admit those magic moneypulls won't make $125 million, or $62.5 million, or whatever number you said but can't remember now because you pretty much made it up on the spot. How does $9 million sound? Yeah let's go with that. This will send the government into a tizzy since you've basically assumed their revenue away. Not your problem. You're just a private businessman.
- You are found guilty of racketeering and fraud. Much hemming, hawing and finger-wagging will be done, but nothing will actually change.
- Make up your end of the cost by charging customers for the right to purchase tickets to sit in the fancy new seats you had them pay for already through their (non-regressive) taxes. Charge a lot. (No, this is not the fraud for which you had to pay a penalty of $84.5 million.)
- Remember those e-pulltab thingys? They raised zero dollars. Oops! But still not your problem. Try not to snicker when you're acting all concerned in front of the former mayor and governor.
- You're breaking ground! You did it!
Infinite thanks to Neil deMause at Field Of Schemes for his tireless research on all things stadia.