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'Stopping Sports Terrorism'

October 23, 1987

The Times is exactly on point with its editorial on "Stopping Sports Terrorism" (Oct. 11). With the skyrocketing popularity of big-league franchises, sports boosterism has gotten out of hand. A professional sports team brings about an obvious psychological high. But for mere ego gratification, a tremendous amount of money is involved at a high cost to the citizenry.

In many cases, the people who own and operate major league franchises--big businessmen--play on this emotionalism to try and ransom new or improved facilities from local governments. The threat of relocating their teams if they don't get what they want is enough in some cases to force cities and counties into tremendous financial commitments that may not be fiscally sound, while many of their social programs go begging.

Any city that is considering building a stadium should carefully look at the New Orleans experience. The Superdome was built for the Saints. However, the few times a year that the team uses it results in an operating deficit of $3 million to $5 million a year. Tax money in Louisiana is running thin, and police and fire services have been severely cut.

Perhaps the most destructive new trend in professional sports is the attitude of certain cities that if you can't buy a team, then go out and steal one. Public dollars are pitted against public dollars when cities try to buy themselves major league status.

Our own Los Angeles Raiders being lured away from the Coliseum by an unbelievably favorable financial proposal by the City of Irwindale is a good case in point. Can you imagine a city giving a private, for-profit corporation a non-refundable $10-million advance to relocate without a binding agreement? Or giving that corporation $175 million worth of land and facilities for only $90 million?

It is bad enough when these "sports wars" are waged with private dollars, but when public dollars are involved, it is outrageous. We must stop and consider governments' responsibility to take care of our human needs first, and our recreational needs later.


Speaker Pro Tempore

California Assembly

D-Los Angeles

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