I was going to write about the history of backup quarterbacks winning the Super Bowl, how it relates to what Jeff Garcia is doing now, and why Eagles fans and coaches would be wise to hand the job right back to Donovan McNabb when he is fully healed from his knee injury.
Then I caught this brilliant quote from Eagles President and COO Joe Banner in a story about team owner Jeff Lurie. In describing how fans never really embraced Lurie, Banner said “I have to tell you, that’s personally frustrating to me in a public-relations sense… I know this is controversial, but I don’t think there’s another owner who would have kept this team in Philadelphia for the economic deal we got on our stadium. I’m not trying to belittle public contribution, but as it relates to what other cities did and other offers we had from other cities, I can’t imagine many owners that would have come from someplace else and had the kind of loyalty that he demonstrated to these football fans and to the history of this franchise. I don’t think anybody recognizes that.”
In short, Joe Banner is saying “Eagles fans should be grateful that Jeff Lurie owns the team. We could have moved the team because deal we got on our publicly financed $500,000,000 stadium wasn’t exactly great.” He’s wrong on two counts:
First, publicly financed stadiums are always ever a great deal for owners, so he shouldn’t complain about getting the shaft. The city and state taxpayers subsidize your loan, and you get to pimp the stadium name out to Lincoln Financial. You get to make all of these television and licensing deals and keep all of the profits. And the benefit to the taxpayers? The privilege of paying through the nose to watch the team while eating cold hot dogs and drinking warm beer.
Jeffery Lurie made out like a bandit with this deal. The Eagles are now worth, as estimated by Forbes Magazine, $1 Billion. So, even if Jeff had to dump $500,000,000 of his own money into building the stadium, he gets to make twice that much if he ever sells the team. Where else can you get a 100% return on investment? Sign me up!
The second place where Banner is wrong when he says “No other owner…” Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots found his own financing when building the $320,000,000 Gillette Stadium. Yes, the state ponied up money to make infrastructure improvements like upgrading the roads, constructing parking facilities, and running commuter services to the stadium, but it’s hardly the burden to taxpayers that $320 million would be. Previous owners of the Patriots threatened to move the team to St. Louis, and while Kraft did actually have a deal with the state of Connecticut to finance a new downtown Hartford stadium, he ended up keeping the team in Foxboro, MA. So before Joe Banner holds the all-caring, ever loyal Jeffery Lurie up on a pedestal for all to admire, he should look at an owner who is worthy of an ounce of admiration.
Banner said that he wasn’t trying to belittle the public contribution, but he did anyway. Banner got it backwards. It isn’t the fans that should be glad at the kindness and loyalty displayed by Lurie. He and Lurie should be honored that the city and state were willing to subsidize his arena despite ever-increasing evidence that stadiums never leads to the kind of urban revitalization espoused by proponents.
Despite Banner’s idiotic comment, I still hope the Eagles win on Saturday. May the football gods forgive their COO’s idiocy.