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Norman Braman Isn’t Who You Want to Hear it From, But You, the Sports Fan, Are Still Getting Screwed

Feb 11, 2013, 1:39 PM EDT

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He’s not a popular figure in this town, and he’s the last person you probably want to listen to, but at least in this case, he’s right.

Former Eagles owner Norman Braman — known most notably for skimping payroll, hoarding cash, and letting Reggie White walk away — has taken on a new role as the chief critic of the Dolphins’ ownership group in Miami.
In short, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, worth $4.4 billion according to Forbes, has proposed a $400 million renovation to Dolphins Stadium, of he which is offering to pay 51 percent through the use of private funds. As for the remaining 49 percent, you guessed it, Ross is asking for public contributions.
On Monday morning, ProFootballTalk characterized Braman as having “long advocated for lower taxes” and as someone who has been “a thorn in the Dolphins’ side for years.”
“This is still welfare for a multi-billionaire,” Braman told WSVN News in Miami. “It’s wrong.”

Ross and the Dolphins have since shot back, pointing out that Braman took advantage of public dollars in 1994, before selling the team to Jeffrey Lurie, while Braman says the city was ultimately made whole. (For a detailed account of the bickering, take advantage of this writeup from the Miami Herald.)
You probably still loathe him, and that’s legitimate enough when it comes to the relationship between fans, owners and the public trust that is a sports franchise, but put aside the fact that it’s Braman for just a second.
Read this, and then look at what happened in Seattle and what’s happening now in Sacramento. Consider also the cases in Buffalo and Minnesota. Then think of the three lockouts you’ve had to endure within the last two years over football- and basketball- and hockey-related income.
The owners’ argument as to why they deserve a greater share of the revenues has generally been two-fold, with one point generally made more explicit and the other more implicit.
1. The league/certain owners is/are losing money and need a greater percentage to remain or become fiscally solvent.
2. The owners are entitled to their share of the profits — whatever that share may be — because they assume the risk of owning the business/franchise in the first place.

But, really, what risk? When owners dangle the threat of relocation over a city or state in order to shift stadium costs onto the public, the risk of owning a franchise is greatly minimized, if not erased. One of, if not the single greatest risk an owner can assume is in stadium investment, as it requires such large sums in the modern era. 

If owners of professional franchises are not willing to accept the risk of building a stadium that will sufficiently meet their desire for an increase in revenue, especially in an era when franchise values are skyrocketing, what risk are they willing to accept?
The justification for the public’s acquiescence in stadium fights is that a new or refurbished venue will “generally yield increases in jobs, population, or income for metropolitan areas.” Then again, this study from Independent Budget Office of the City of New York, entitled The Economics and Financing of Stadiums for the Yankees and Mets, concludes otherwise.
In fairness, the benefits are mixed, but in reality, city and state legislatures give in because neither the governments nor their public want to lose their franchise. Granted, stadium deals represent very little added cost to tax payers, but it’s the extortion that’s really the issue. Pay for this, or someone else, somewhere else will
Philadelphia has had all three of its major stadiums built within the last 20 years and two within the last decade. (The latter two, Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park, were both financed via 50-50 pubic-private splits). But at some point the city and/or state will be asked to kick in some money so we can build a new place to spend yet even more money. 
Forget Braman, forget that he would have asked for more city help if he had ever built his own stadium, and forget his use of the W-word.
Fights over stadium funding are a farce. Leagues will take your sport away from you, and then blackmail you to keep it around when they’re feeling risky enough to even let you have it.