In a 2002 study titled “Representative NFL Stadium Public/Private Partnerships,” Horrow Sports Ventures reported the estimated total costs, lease terms, and any public and private contributions, cost overruns, and referendums associated with 22 football stadium projects. Although there were likely changes of each project’s costs, terms, contributions, overruns and referendums if implemented, the study revealed valuable information about potential investments in existing and new NFL venues.¹
In Chapter 4 of my book Football Fortunes, I provided various data regarding NFL stadiums such as when these facilities opened, home teams’ average attendances and win-loss results, and amounts, years, and expiration dates of naming rights. Thus, anyone who reads the chapter understands why and how these stadiums influenced, in different ways, the strategies, operations, and financial success of respective NFL franchises as businesses and their on-the-field performances as competitors especially at home games.
While sports fans attended pro football games or watched them on television including wild card and divisional playoffs and each conference championship and then the Super Bowl, there were reports and rumors about new or planned stadiums for the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers. Consequently, for my perspectives regarding the economics of NFL stadiums, I created Table 1. As such, it contains interesting characteristics of teams’ home sites based on an article published in Forbes and readings in other sources. To that end, what do Table 1 and the literature reveal about the home venues of 32 clubs in America’s most popular and prosperous professional sport?
Characteristics of Stadiums, NFL Teams, 2011
Team Name Stadium Capacity Cost Value Owner
Arizona Cardinals U of Phoenix Stadium 63,400 395 100 Public
Atlanta Falcons Georgia Dome 71,228 210 72 Public
Baltimore Ravens M&T Bank Stadium 70,107 220 151 Public
Buffalo Bills Ralph Wilson Stadium 73,079 22 88 Public
Carolina Panthers Bank of America Stadium 73,504 248 144 Team
Chicago Bears Soldier Field 61,500 630 138 Public
Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium 65,500 334 90 Public
Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns Stadium 73,300 300 115 Public
Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Stadium 100,000 1,200 437 Public
Denver Broncos Sports Authority Field 76,125 401 137 Public
Detroit Lions Ford Field 65,000 440 65 Public
Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field 73,128 295 132 Public
Houston Texans Reliant Stadium 71,054 449 198 Public
Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium 63,000 719 136 Public
Jacksonville Jaguars EverBank Field 67,246 145 73 Public
Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead Stadium 76,600 375 133 Public
Miami Dolphins Sun Life Stadium 75,540 115 147 Private
Minnesota Vikings Mall of America Field 64,126 55 50 Public
New England Patriots Gillette Stadium 68,756 325 262 Team
New Orleans Saints Mercedes-Benz Superdome 69,703 336 184 Public
New York Giants MetLife Stadium 82,500 1,400 204 Public
New York Jets MetLife Stadium 82,500 1,400 177 Public
Oakland Raiders O.co Stadium 63,132 100 48 Public
Philadelphia Eagles Lincoln Financial Field 69,144 360 181 Both
Pittsburgh Steelers Heinz Field 65,050 281 134 Public
San Diego Chargers Qualcomm Stadium 70,000 28 102 Public
San Francisco 49ers Candlestick Park 69,734 25 80 Public
Seattle Seahawks CenturyLink Field 67,000 360 137 Public
St. Louis Rams Edward Jones Dome 66,000 248 63 Public
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium 65,908 169 134 Public
Tennessee Titans LP Field 69,143 292 132 Public
Washington Redskins FedEx Field 85,000 251 337 Team
Note: Team is self-explanatory. Name reflects recent naming rights of stadiums. Capacity is thousands of seats. Cost includes amounts for the construction and renovation of stadiums in millions of dollars. Value is the portion of an NFL franchise’s market value attributable to its stadium, in millions of dollars. Owner of a stadium may be a public entity such as a city, commission, county, district, metropolitan authority, state, a private investor or investment group, and/or a team. The Philadelphia Eagles and City of Philadelphia jointly own Lincoln Financial Field.
Source: Michael K. Ozanian, Kurt Badenhausen, and Christini Settimi, “NFL Team Valuations 2011,” www.forbes.com, cited 10 January 2012.
First, the average capacity was approximately 70,700 for 31 NFL stadiums in 2011. They ranged in seats from 61,500 for the 88-year-old but renovated Soldier Field in Chicago to 100,000 for the relatively new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Besides Soldier Field, another small, old facility was 46-year-old O.co Stadium (formerly Oakland-Alameda Stadium) for the Raiders in northern California. Interestingly, 12 or 38 percent of all stadiums opened during the 2000s while a few others expanded in size by adding thousands of club seats.
Second, construction costs and renovations combined equaled less than $60 million each for four NFL stadiums. These were 52-year-old Candlestick Park in San Francisco, 44-year-old Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, 39-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, and 29-year-old Mall of America Field (formerly named HHH Metrodome) in Minneapolis. In contrast to them, owners of such stadiums as Lambeau Field, Arrowhead Stadium, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (formerly named Louisiana Superdome) each received millions in taxpayer money for renovations.
Third, Forbes estimated and ranked the market valuations of NFL franchises and published them online in an article dated September 2011. These estimates consisted of specific values due to (a) the Sport (revenue shared among teams) and each football franchise’s (b) Market (city and market size), (c) Brand Management (promotion and marketing), and its (d) Stadium.
In column five of Table 1, I list the value in millions assigned to each NFL franchise’s stadium. Because of such amenities as types of leases, numbers of suites, prices of premium and club seats, advertisements, sponsorships, vendor contracts and special business deals, the most lucrative among the group are Cowboys Stadium and FedEx Field. Furthermore, there were five or 16 percent of NFL stadiums whose value exceeded their cost. This occurred, for example, for Dan Snyder’s Redskins franchise in Landover, Maryland where new additions at FedEx Field were two video scoreboards, 1,000 parking spaces, and club-level party decks. Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently established a partnership with the New York Yankees and Goldman Sachs in a profitable stadium operation venture named Legends Hospitality Management.
Fourth, as denoted in column six of Table 1, different publics primarily owned 27 or 87 percent of NFL stadiums in 2011. These included such cities as Cleveland and San Diego, counties as Erie in New York and Hamilton in Ohio, and states as Georgia and Louisiana. Indeed, the majority of NFL franchises had to negotiate a lease agreement and thus pay rent to occupy their home-site stadium if a public organization owned it.
In sum, stadiums are truly economic assets that contribute in many ways to the current and future market value of NFL teams. Therefore, during the 2010s, franchise owners like Carolina Panthers’ Jerry Richardson and public organizations will allocate resources and finance improvements to upgrade and perhaps significantly renovate their football venues for more revenue and to entertain fans while they attend home games of the league.²
¹Horrow Sports Ventures, “Representative NFL Stadium Public/Private Partnerships,” Mimeograph (12 September 2002): www.sandiego.gov/chargerissues/pdf/horrow.pdf.
²See Steve Harrison, “New Look? Or New Stadium,” Charlotte Observer (22 August 2010): 1A, 7A.