So last week we talked a bit about the detail-free Alazona proposal being pitched by leading cites of industry, Birmingham, AL and Tucson, AZ to split hosting duties for the Location-Off Raiders domestic home games in 2019. Not to oversimply the situation but this proposal offers absolutely nothing for the Raiders or the NFL.
Now, not to put too fine a point on this all, I am only going to address this from the Tucson angle as I know almost nothing about Alabama.
Anyways, the expectation is that Oakland and the Raiders will (possibly have, by the time this posts) work out some sort of deal for 2019 and, as a strong backup, the only real viable alternate is crashing on the 49ers couch for the year and playing their home games at Levi’s Stadium. Alazona is but a fevered pipe dream of a town that has neither the understanding of the NFL’s needs, nor their own shortcomings, to even put together a truly coherent proposal.
But look, bad proposals are just a part of life — especially in the shake-down world of professional sports teams looking for host municipalities. Replacing The Troops as an evergreen political tool, a nation that has finally admitted that they don’t give two shits about veterans or their families will always be able to attack their elected officials if any decision threatens the potential loss of a beloved local sports team. Even in Arizona, where they ain’t got no money, the city of Phoenix just voted to pony up $175 million to keep the Phoenix Suns and the #1 worst owner in sports, Robert Sarver, winning under 20 games a season in the Valley of the Sun through 2037.
But here’s the rub, it’s usually the predatory businesses — be it the Suns, Foxconn, or Amazon — who are trying to pitch a too-good-to-be-true proposal to desperate municipalities that may be suckered into signing up for guaranteed public handouts with zero performance or hiring goals by said business. The kicker with the Alazona proposal is that it is being pitched by Tucson AND is actually against the interests of the city.
Seriously, you don’t get much more Tucson than this.
Now, if this whole proposal was nothing more than a pie-in-the-sky, it’ll-never-happen publicity stunt to get Tucson’s name some free advertising for a couple days, then it worked out beautifully. Harkening back to the 2017 international competition for Amazon’s HQ2 facility, many locales that would never have a chance at landing Amazon used the competition as free advertising to just get their city’s name out there, hoping that perhaps other industries may notice the relevance of their local pitches. Related to the Alazona proposal, the pitches from Tucson and Birmingham each made Newsweek’s Top 5 Most Bizarre Bids list. So it isn’t like there’s not precedence for these two cities to come out acting like they can punch way above their weight.
The people of Tucson — the gullible rubes that make up the citizenry of the Old Pueblo — see the potential for bright silver and black lights and are all-in. Seriously, I cannot find one article or even one comment where anyone raises their hand and says, “hey, maybe this isn’t actually such a great idea.” And I get that — when you have nothing, pretty much any something looks like a good deal.
But let’s get into the details of what any Raiders-Alazona agreement would likely require and what would be those results.
First, there’s no way any NFL team — let alone the Raiders — are going to negotiate a deal at a loss to themselves. One of the rubs on these stadium deals that NFL teams make includes the revenue from non-NFL events in which they take a cut. Would Tucson be willing to give up a cut of Arizona Bowl revenues or University of Arizona tickets to the Raiders? Probably — the unsophisticated city council of Tucson would be absolutely fleeced within five minutes of even sitting down with an NFL team negotiator — even Mark Davis. But how about covering the cost of gameday operations, which run about $300,000 for a typical PAC-12 gameday? Even at hosting just three games and using a conservative 20% operational cost increase to meet NFL standards, you’re talking over a million bucks in costs. How much of that does Tucson share in for the right to host an NFL team for all of nine hours? Now, it’s not to say the public doesn’t pony up that cash — but how do you recover a million bucks in costs when you’ve given away the associated revenue stream?
Second — and, admittedly, this is a weak point but I always learned you hide those in the middle — in market TV game scheduling will be a disaster for Tucsonans. With “in-market” Raiders and Cardinals games, television viewers will either lose Cardinals games (Mike Bidwill won’t let that happen) or, more likely, won’t get the AFC Raiders broadcast when the teams are playing in the same time zone (which should be most weeks).
Third, whatever “free press” Tucson receives will be lost ten-fold. Consider that the 2019 Raiders are already a lost season so Tucson isn’t getting flexed into SNF. Now this is going to be a bad team just waiting to get to their fresh digs in Vegas. What is Tucson? A truck stop. They have no loyalty there. They have no fans there. You think Michael Crabtree isn’t going to sit at 0-7 and have something to say about playing in a fucking decrepit college stadium in the middle of the desert? How about when they get to Vegas and the first questions every reporter will be asking is, “What is it like to have these beautiful new facilities after spending a season commuting for home games in Tucson?”
“Praise Jesus for testing thy will as that of Job. I shall never take my life for granted after spending three nights in Tucson, Arizona.”
“At least those sewage issue at the Coliseum could be fixed man. I’m not sure anyone in Tucson even notices that smell anymore.”
“THIS TUCSON, ARIZONA I CALL IT A USED CONDOM AT MY EX’S BECAUSE YOU WANT TO JUST THROW IT ALL AWAY AND FORGET THAT DISGUSTING EXPERIENCE BUT YOU’RE ALSO AFRAID OF WHAT THAT DIRTY OLD WHORE MIGHT DO WITH A SAMPLE OF YOUR DNA!”
Seriously though, that Tucson isn’t going to have to clean up the place before the Raiders arrive and the nationally televised cameras start rolling is heralded as a positive to the Alazona proposal! This is a two bit off-the-interstate city that is in the midst of a perpetual blend of major thoroughfare construction and stage 3 crumbling of the remaining roads. Arizona Stadium’s latest renovation was in 2016 and, while it is a nice little end zone seating/office structure, the project is already overshadowed by the $300 million renovations to Sun Devil Stadium just up the road.
If any of you ever pick up a JV Arizona CFB or CBB broadcast, you’ll see a pretty standard dosing of saguaro cacti, Mexican restaurants (often featuring mariachis), and sunset shots (thanks mining!). It’s the exact same three things you’ll see in any SkyMiles Catalog advertisement for Visit Tucson. Point is, you’re not adding anything. There is no campaign for “this isn’t your father’s Tucson.” It’s the same shit people already know — it’s not as cold in the winter; there is year-round golf; and the mountains haven’t been turned into strip malls yet.
So I come back to 2020 and beyond. Tucson will be shat all over every time the new Las Vegas stadium is brought up. Tucson — not the travel or GM — will be blamed for the Raiders horrible 2019 performance. It’s one thing to play some games at a nearby university (Vikings/RAMMIT) or an MLS stadium (CHARGEIT) but to travel half a day to play in a dumpy college stadium? That’s not a move that sets said temporary host city up for positive memories.
Again, this may all be a moot point as Oakland and the franchise seem to have worked out a deal for ’19 and (if needed) ’20 — but I’ll still be back next week to talk more trash about Tucson.