@THE GUSS REPORT-Kudos to Las Vegas, with a population of about 600,000. It is the little city that could, and did, land what the City of Los Angeles could not: an NFL franchise – in fact, one with a phenomenal brand – and what is going to be the baddest domed stadium in the world when it opens in a few years.
Then there are the tens of thousands of jobs and a bazillion tax dollars from the concerts, conventions and Super Bowls it will host. Wonders, it shall also do, for the occupancy rate of its hotels, its infrastructure, home property values and the needs of its neediest.
Vegas, baby ... Vegas.
Why can’t we get government leadership like that?
Vegas landed the Raiders because it was ready to deal. It wasn’t a fluke. The NFL thrives on money and television, yet Vegas is just the 42nd largest TV market in the U.S., while Los Angeles is second only to New York. They won because of leadership. The City of Los Angeles lost its NFL chances because of a lack of it.
That theory holds true because a far smaller and poorer LA County city, Inglewood, with an estimated population of just 120,000, landed not one, but two, NFL franchises and what is going to be an insanely cool multi-billion dollar stadium and shopping and hotel complex that will host Super Bowl LV in 2021 and countless events in the decades to come.
Oh, the tax revenue that will bring…to Inglewood.
The Rams, Chargers and now the Raiders have something else in common: they all at one time or other played in the City of Los Angeles, left it, and are coming back to cities nearby but which are not named the City of Los Angeles.
For years, the past and present 18 elected officials of the City of Los Angeles gassed-on about landing an NFL team and a world-class stadium in which it would play. It could be a refurbished Coliseum, Dodger Stadium or the never-to-be-built Farmer’s Field in downtown.
They, the political set, thought they would be our conquering heroes and land a pile of tax revenue that would save us from their profligate spending, bloated pension burdens and launch them all to higher office.
But as we found out after the Rams, Chargers and Raiders chose other nearby cities in which to land, the City of LA only has great weather, and not the leadership to make a great deal.
Another reason why Las Vegas landed the Raiders, as well as recently getting a National Hockey League team, is because it and Atlantic City no longer have pariah status with professional sports leagues as the exclusive homes of gambling in the United States. As the New York Times recently pointed out, “according to the American Gaming Association, 19 N.F.L. stadiums are less than 20 miles from a casino, and daily fantasy companies allow fans to bet on a lineup of players of their design using a computer or smartphone.”
In other words, as times changed and circumstances evolved, the leaders in Las Vegas and in Inglewood were ready to deal. They did, and won.
Meanwhile, City of Los Angeles officials continue their pursuit of sparkly things that LA does not need, like million dollar condo developments, luxury hotels and the 2024 Olympics, with few buying Mayor Eric Garcetti’s line that since Peter Ueberroth made the 1984 LA Olympics profitable, it is inevitable that he, Garcetti, who can’t house the homeless, ease the traffic or honor a budget (presently $250,000,000 under water) can do the same.
Garcetti has held the reins of power in City Hall as either City Council president or Mayor since 2006 but is still seeking his first big “get.”
In 2024, the LA Coliseum will be 101 years old, the Rose Bowl will be 102 and the Staples Center will be one of the older of the “newer” American arenas at 25. They, and lesser known venues in the area, will never suffice for an Olympics.
The recently re-elected Garcetti should stop reaching for the glittery things in his field of vision, be they sporting events or higher office, and start governing to the benefit of the hoi polloi who live and work here now and in the coming years. When there are new and exciting things to go for, he and his successors should study the winning formulas of the little cities that could … and did.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
Tags: Daniel Guss, The Guss Report, NFL teams, Raiders, Las Vegas, Ingelwood, Eric Garcetti