Thursday, January 24, 2013

The stadium deal

As you may recall, there are two parts to the proposed deal: the legislation to allow the Dolphins to recoup $3 million a year in state subsidies (which they introduced as legislation a week or so ago), and the proposal to increase the hotel tax to 7%.

The latter took a step forward when Miami-Dade county voted yesterday to side with the Dolphins, and they will propose the legislation to make it happen.  Crafty by the Dolphins, but no certainty.

But it also means that the county should work in good faith on the deal until the legislation is approved - or fails.

There was (predictably) a lot of talk about the Marlins stadium and semantics about how it was different.  The Dolphins again said they'd open their books (but weren't asked to; nice bluff).  And there was some discussion about how the county to the north (Broward) wasn't a part of this, and one commissioner suggested the Dolphins move their training facility back to Miami-Dade (it was discounted).  Other notable comments: He'll pay for half himself (and there are reports that at least part of that money will come from the NFL's development fund, which is a 0% loan).  And he guarantees that the Dolphins will stay here for 20 more years, as long as he owns the team (the specific wording makes it easy to see how a 70+ year old man could simply sell the team and the new owner could move it).

But there was one item that caught my attention: the Dolphins say they are carrying a debt of about $210 million.  Which made me pause "say what?"  They are profitable.  They have been existence for a long time in the same stadium. What gives?

Before that, let me set the context.  Apparently one of the commissioners asked why Mr. Ross couldn't fund it himself.  The reason given was that the NFL has bylaws about the debt load a team can carry.  And being valued at just over $1 billion, the amount is around 17%.

(and now to the part about the debt...this is my understanding of it, and it may not be 100% accurate, and some things I may be assuming...but hopefully it provides some context for the reader)

So how is a debt possible?  Well, as I read it (here), it turns out that Joe Robbie was able to finagle a bond sale by the county in 1985, from which he got $90 million to fund stadium construction at 0% interest.  So that's about half of the amount.

The remainder, which I can't find a specific reference to, was another bond at a low interest rate, related back to the "retrofitting" of the stadium to accommodate baseball, in about 1991.  Again, the county created a bond and sold it to various banks.

So....at a low interest rate, it makes some financial sense for the owner of the stadium to pay it back slowly.  Wouldn't you?  I can't fault him for that.

The point is that the owner is already taking advantage of bond money, and state money.  Perhaps the commissioners could have required him to pay off his debt load first. 

And while I don't claim to know the bylaws of the NFL, I have to imagine that there is wiggle room since he owns the stadium, the team, and other properties unrelated to the NFL. 

It all seems strange to me, and I just wish someone would do some good investigative reporting and follow the money....

And one more thing that I noticed: the plans they revealed for upgrades appear to be the same as the ones prepared 18 months ago.  At that time, the price tag was $250 million.  Now its $400 million.  Where did the additional $150 million come from?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Not sure what to make of this

Tim Brown's statements about Bill Callaghan changing the game plan two days before the Superbowl a decade ago, and him saying - essentially - that Callaghan gave the game away, is somethin'

And then to hear Jerry Rice more-or-less agree with the change being problematic is interesting.

I'll be curious to see if there's any outside investigation into the allegations...

The NFL claims to take "integrity" seriously, and this could be a serious problem, especially considering the amount of money that is wagered on NFL games.

Love this

Wes Welker's wife had a few choice words for Ray Lewis, kind of like Giselle did last year when Welker dropped a pass.

In this case, though, it could be argued that it was offensive, and actually wrong...and possibly could be construed as racist.  But the media had a field day with it and that made me laugh.

Now don't get me wrong, I did love Welker when he was here.  But ever since he went to the evil empire, I've thought of him as a bit of a jerk.  And even though *he* didn't say this, the fact that it came from his wife is funny. And it sheds more bad spotlights on the Patsies, which is never a bad thing.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Fwd: You're published on WLRN.org

I was supposed to appear on-air to voice my opinion about the stadium. But they ran out of time. But they quoted me in the online printed version. 

Thanks for sharing you opinion with us on the Dolphins plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium. In case you missed it, you can see your name online here: Should Public Money Fund Sun Life Stadium Upgrades?. If you can't click on that link, try this one: http://wlrn.org/post/should-public-money-fund-sun-life-stadium-upgrades.

Thanks again for being a part of the Public Insight Network. :)


Sincerely,
 Miami Herald & WLRN 91.3 FM

Questions about the conference title games

Did the fact that the Ravens fired one-time Dolphins coach Cam "Cam" Cameron late in the season have an impact on their performance in the playoffs?

Will history remember Lewis as  a great player, as a criminal, both, or maybe something in between?

Will the reporters these next two weeks get the story on Lewis' conviction correct?  (he was convicted of obstructing justice, as a misdemeanor, and nothing more)

Will Tom Brady retire? If he doesn't, will he be any good next year?

Will Bill Bellichick apologize for running off the field without talking to anyone? 

Did the Patriots really punt twice from the Raven's 35 and once from their 45?

Who does Jack Harbaugh root for (the dad)?

Does the NFL have a deal with the Patriots to only call penalties on their opponents?  It sure seemed like the calls went their way an awful lot!

Does San Fran win their 6th title? (no, that can't be right, can it?)

Or does Baltimore (the Ravens that is) win its second?

Did Terrell Suggs really say what's on every Dolphins fans' (and Jets and Bills, plus many other fans) minds when he said "(We) shut them out in the second half! Tell them to have fun at the Pro Bowl! arrogant f---ers!"

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Harbaugh Bowl!

The story goes that no team that led the league in scoring offense has ever won the superbowl.  The Patriots led the league in scoring, so naturally, you'd expect the Patriots to lose.

I think most would agree that Tom Brady is on the downside of his career.  Look, he's still a better QB than most of 'em, even in the twilight of his career.  But, you can see the slide.  He had a couple of mediocre games this season, and was due to have another one - and it came to pass on this Sunday.  He really wasn't very good today.

I suspect the slide won't be as gradual in the coming season or two, that's how it works with QBs.  And that means that the days of Patriots fans lamenting their own 8-8 season and saying "Remember when we had Brady?" can't be that far off.

As for the Ravens, how about Ray Lewis and Ed Reed having one last gasp?  That's something.  And Joe Flacco having an opportunity to win it all intrigues me because he was the guy that Miami, and really most of the NFL passed on in 2007 (when Miami took Jake Long).  See what a good QB can do?

And just to keep things interesting, Brendon Ayanbadejo is a former Dolphin (he was here when the Wannstache was still around).  So, no matter what, a former Dolphin will have more Superbowl rings than Dan Marino.

I look forward to the hype of the big game between the brothers.  And it should be a fun game.

The 49ers go to the big show

I watched this game with a lot of interest.  On the one hand, you had the Falcons who are what the Dolphins could have been.  Remember, the owner made a pitch to get Bill Parcells.  Had he gotten him, the Dolphins may be a different team today - and the Falcons may have been the ones snookered, and Parcells may have been "upstairs watching film"...instead, they got a good QB, and a single coach in that span.  Rather than a half dozen QBs and 3 coaches in that time.

Yeah, they've managed to honk out of the playoffs for four years now.  But they've been *in* the playoffs for 4 years. And they played for a conference title today.

On the other side, you had the Niners.  Jim Harbaugh was probably never going to the be the Dolphins coach.  But there was an overture, and he went to San Francisco.  And that blows as a fins fan, doesn't it?

Meanwhile I made a comment during the NFL draft in '11, which you can read here.  Yeah, I made the mistake of calling him "Dan" instead of "Colin" but I had a hunch about the 49ers QB. (I correct it here)  I thought he was gonna be good.  And guess what?  He is.  And he's going to a Superbowl.

And how do you like them apples?  Ted Ginn, jr (and his family) are also going to play for a championship.  Wouldn't it be awesome if he somehow won the MVP?