Shocker: NFL exec defends billionaires, self, public funding of stadiums

Thursday, December 10, 2015 2:46 AM

If NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman really wanted to advance a line of bullshit exonerating St. Louis Rams billionaire owner Sam Kroenke from ponying up his own money for stadium funding, why would he take that game to St. Louis sportswriter Bernie Miklasz, an often eloquent observer grown cynical in coverage of the Rams’ seemingly inevitable departure to Los Angeles?

Nevertheless, Grubman did so this morning, appearing as a guest on Miklasz’ radio show-cum-podcast and ultimately coming off none too well vis-à-vis sucking up to the 1%. (I know: A high-ranking NFL executive taking such a line is hard to believe.) Grubman starts on the offense early, labeling Miklasz “pedantic” for asking for details on the current state of Los Angeles relocation efforts – and then the obfuscation begins, which Grubman providing little of substance in 43½ minutes.

Miklasz professionally starts off rather accommodating to Grubman, calling the NFL’s relocation “process” “fair” and acknowledging that Grubman is “in a bad spot” with regard to his responsibilities regarding the move. Such niceties are blown away early, though. Here’s one early exchange that nicely demonstrates Grubman’s evasive maneuvers:

Milasz: The proposal may not have “the ideal terms that Stan Kroenke would hope for or what the league would hope for, but it’s still going to be a hell of a lot of public money, more than what’s happening in [Oakland and San Diego] to this point, and with a decision so imminent, I struggle from a fairness standpoint to understand why he would get the votes to move when this city has done far more than the other two to raise … a vast sum of public money toward this project. Why would we get penalized compared to the other two markets, for example?

Grubman: Well, first of all, I’m not sure that you would and you’re correctly identifying this as a theoretical question, but I’ll go back to my point which is that they may not give him the votes to go to Los Angeles. That doesn’t define a win. What defines a win is you have a team that helps build that stadium. That’s a win. The rest of the owners cannot compel any team to sign a lease. They can deny them the ability to relocate, but they cannot compel them to sign a lease.

(Wait a minute, the team is going to help build the stadium which St. Louis doesn’t want or need? Does he mean literally, like Todd Gurley, Janoris Jenkins and the guys are gonna wield power tools and do some subcontracting?)

And Grubman’s knickers really start getting in knots ‘round about the 20-minute mark. After defending the poor oppressed Rams owner’s rights, he lashes out with a Republic-style public appeal: “How would you feel if you were an NFL owner and you were being subjected to a sizable tax that other sports weren’t?”

In response, Miklasz reckons that, were he in possession of Kroenke’s $7 billion net worth and had seen enough commitment from St. Louis fans that they’d ponied up for new facilities twice already, then, sure, maybe he would throw in $100 million in lieu of more public taxation.

To which Grubman replies with all the fervor of a man whose very spiritual foundational beliefs are challenged (which they are, really):

I’m gonna challenge that. I don’t believe that, and you don’t believe yourself. What you just said is that, if I’m worth $7.2 billion, the difference between a $400 million and $300 million as a public contribution isn’t going to change things and that I’m going to work with them at $300 [million] even if it’s not $400 [million]. I call BS on that.

If your logic follows, then someone worth $7.2 [billion] if it goes from $400 [million] to zero should feel the same way.

Um, yeah, okay.

Grubman goes on to declare that Miklasz’s suggestion that Kroenke’s net worth should be factored into decisions regarding public taxation to provide him with a venue for his private profit enterprise is “unfair,” despite Grubman’s own chastising of Miklasz for arguing business emotionally. That’s the NFL: Always fighting for the rights of the downtrodden!

Look, despite this writer’s longing for the Rams to relocate back to Los Angeles, the position advocating public funding in lieu of the billionaires that benefit footing the bill themselves is indefensible. has always advocated Kroenke’s plan for Hollywood Park development because of the lack of public funding needed for such a structure. If Kroenke simply wanted to ship the Rams back to the West Coast at the taxpayers’ expense, he would hardly be venerated as a hero.

#RamsBackToLosAngeles and all that, but let’s stop with the charity for the 1% already, eh?

Download Bernie Miklasz’s full interview with Eric Grubman here.

– written by Os Davis