Category Archives: Football
Less than two weeks ago, Amy Trask came on The Game’s morning show to talk about the Raiders’ ticket donation program. While there she talked up the Coliseum as the best location for a future stadium and defended Raider Nation to the hilt – as she has done frequently. So it came with some surprise that Trask resigned her CEO post over the weekend. She went out honoring the team and its fans. She could easily write a book on her 25-year tenure as a rare female executive in pro sports. Chances are that she’ll write a paean about her experiences with the Raiders instead.
Under the surface it seemed Trask’s days were numbered. With Reggie McKenzie handling the football side and Dennis Allen as his coach, Trask was marginalized to the role of figuring out the Raiders’ future stadium situation. Even then, the team got little momentum on that front as its lease was renegotiated and running towards its end. According to Tim Kawakami, at first Trask pushed for a stadium-sharing model with the 49ers, a move that would’ve been highly practical. As the 49ers pushed forward in Santa Clara, any murmurs about sharing died, replaced by a renewed push for something new in the East Bay. Mark Davis made calls to folks in the Tri-Valley about Camp Parks while Trask emphasized that the Coliseum was the best spot. Davis is working in conjunction with the NFL on the Raiders’ spot within Coliseum City, a less showy vision than what Oakland pols are promoting.
Now that Trask is gone, it’ll be up to Davis and a hired gun to sell the prospects of a new stadium at the Coliseum. Rumors abounded during the offseason that a new team president would be hired. There was even talk that Davis would give the reins to Jon Gruden, which went nowhere. It would seem that Andy Dolich would be a natural fit since he performed that kind of role for the 49ers and he’s perhaps Oakland’s biggest booster outside of the city limits. Yet Dolich took a job with recruiting firm Odgers Berndtson instead. Perhaps Davis wants to go with someone younger or someone not previously associated with the 49ers. Whatever the reasoning, it’s a puzzling non-move.
Successful stadium/arena campaigns are usually the product of a solid public-private partnership. The Giants had Larry Baer, Peter Magowan, and Willie Brown pushing for a ballpark. The 49ers had Jed York go door-to-door and two mayors, Patricia Mahan and Jamie Matthews. The Earthquakes had Lew and Keith Wolff, David Kaval, and Chuck Reed keeping San Jose’s bureaucracy from getting in the way. Miraculously, Kevin Johnson had no help from a team owner, but KJ had a history and reputation as a great NBA player to help himself within the NBA. Let’s assume for the moment that Jean Quan, Larry Reid, and Rebecca Kaplan can capably lead the public side. Mark Davis isn’t going to do the heavy public campaign himself, will he? It’ll be up to the new President/CEO/COO or whatever the proper title is to pound the pavement, rally the sponsors, gather the votes. Without that effort there’s little chance Coliseum City will get the necessary support behind it to be successful.
If there’s one significant takeaway from the 49ers/Levi’s press conference today, it’s this: the “SF” on the Niners’ helmet remains a very strong symbol.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee deflected a question about the stadium being in Santa Clara instead of the city proper, talking about moving forward with the stadium as a regional solution. But it was 49ers owner Jed York and Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh who repeatedly emphasized the historical ties between the 49ers and the City, going back to the Gold Rush days. It’s a brand synergy that can only be borne of history, one that may not have been possible if the 49ers dropped the “SF” on the way south. This affirms Levi’s position as a strong sponsor of San Francisco teams – first with the Giants in 2006. That deal, which featured the prime arcade wall (replacing Gap’s Old Navy) marked the start of a growing presence in the sports world for Levi Strauss. Previously under the Haas family, Levi’s sports presence wasn’t nearly as large even though Wally Haas owned the A’s. So it’s somewhat ironic that Levi’s aggression in the market came after the Haases gave up prominent leadership roles in company, the company choosing to go with outsiders (Bergh is from Proctor & Gamble, Phil Marineau came from Pepsi) as debt and a changing market threatened the company’s very existence.
Bergh also mentioned off-hand that the scoreboards, on which enormous Levi’s logos will be placed, will be 190 feet long. That’s 10 feet longer than the frame I informally measured a couple weeks ago. Interestingly, the logo may be slightly taller than the rim of upper deck. Couple that with the gaps in the upper seating bowl, and the logo should be plainly visible for miles around, especially at night when it is lit up.
At $220 million over 20 years, the revenue the 49ers and Santa Clara Stadium Authority will realize is very solid, behind only MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. That stadium is home to two teams. It’s less than the in-limbo Farmers Field deal, but that was also for two teams and would’ve involved more uses as a retractable domed facility. All in all, Levi’s is setting the bar for the Bay Area, including new venues for the Raiders in Oakland, Warriors in SF, and the A’s deal with Cisco. Cisco’s deal, negotiated in 2006, was for $4 million per year over 30 years in Fremont. The argument that the A’s should get more with a San Jose ballpark is only strengthened by the news of the Levi’s Stadium deal.
The 49ers and Levi Strauss have scheduled a 11 AM press conference outside the jeansmaker’s San Francisco headquarters. While both sides are mum for now, multiple outlets are reporting that during the presser the two parties will announce a naming rights deal for the 49ers’ Santa Clara stadium.
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Lauren Hepler, the City of Santa Clara, which has to approve the naming rights terms, will make those terms public at 4 PM today. The City Council/Stadium Authority Board is expected to discuss the terms in a special session tomorrow.
The presser will be streamed at 49ers.com/live at 11. This post will be updated as appropriate.
Update 10:45 AM – The Mercury News’ Mike Rosenberg has tweeted that the deal is $220 million over 20 years.
Get ready to roll out the red carpet in Santa Clara, because Super Bowl L (2016) is coming. Florida legislators and lobbyists have been working overtime to get a state funding component for Dolphins Stadium through the legislature. The package was sneakily amended to a transportation bill in the Senate and passed, but didn’t even come up for a vote in the House. With that non-action, the entire package can’t come up for a referendum in Miami-Dade County unless the Governor calls a special session to take up the issue.
The NFL will decide between Santa Clara and Miami in three weeks, and if Miami doesn’t have its ducks in a row Santa Clara is expected to win by default. The loser is expected to “compete” with Houston for Super Bowl LI. At this point it’s unclear if the Dolphins would go back to the drawing board or resurrect the deal in the next legislative session. Still smarting from the defeat, stadium boosters blasted lawmakers in Tallahassee.
The House’s reticence can be blamed on the stench that continues to emanate from the Marlins Ballpark swindle, which remains fresh on Floridians’ minds. One has to wonder how much a similar sentiment may hurt the prospects at Coliseum City. Many are still aware of how bad a deal Mount Davis was, and some local pols are hesitant to move a plan forward without a better understanding of the public cost.
May 21 is the date of the owners’ vote on the site of Super Bowl L. The vote is expected to be little more than a formality at this point.
Coliseum City strikes me as the City of Oakland’s equivalent of playing a big lottery like Mega Millions or Powerball. The chances are infinitesimal at best, yet they can’t win if they don’t play. So they’re putting in a few million dollars to get some studies done in hopes of a lot of circumstances falling very neatly for them to keep the three current tenants at the Coliseum complex.
- 68 – 72,000 seat NFL stadium with 1.8-2.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.6 acres
- 35 – 39,000 seat ballpark with 1.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.3 acres
- 18 – 20,000 seat arena with 850,000 square feet space, covering 5 acres
- 14 million square feet of office, R&D, commercial, and retail space
- 6,370 housing units
- 15,000 parking spaces at Coliseum site (mostly through garages, existing site has 10,000 spaces)
- A new transit hub, including a widened, more pedestrian-friendly bridge from the BART station to the stadium complex
- Two additional bridges that span I-880 to the arena and greater development west of the freeway
- An elevated, landscaped public space that connects everything
- A revitalized Damon Slough
- A new water inlet leading from San Leandro Bay to the arena
- Many new garages
And it’s not even close. 360 Architecture released two visions for the stadium that will eventually replace the still-young Georgia Dome. As Jason Kirk wrote in SB Nation, the whole thing is insane. Two concepts are being considered. The first is a fairly common stadium design called the Solarium. The catch is that instead of have the roof move on tracks to open a small sunroof, the roof and exterior walls are on hinges (with supporting tracks on the ends) that pull back to open a much larger area to the elements. The stadium also has a trick seating bowl where some of the corner sections collapse, allowing the end zones to be pulled in for a “tighter” basketball bowl.
The second concept, named Pantheon, is much bolder in terms of design, with numerous triangles that, when put together, resemble a very ominous spaceship. Key to the mindblowing nature of what 360′s done is that the roof opens like an iris. It’s beautiful to watch and at the same time very scary. Who’s coming in through the open iris, God or our new alien overlords (who I, for one, welcome)?
Either roof design presents some new practical challenges. Can the hinged roof reliably provide a weatherproof seal? That might be tough. And the iris design is completely new, novel, and unproven. It’s composed of eight separate triangular roof elements that overlap and appear to have their own motors and tracks. That’s an engineering challenge to put it lightly. 360 explains that this roof has smaller, lighter elements that move shorter distances, which should in theory make it cheaper to build and operate. Who knows, maybe it’ll work well? Then again, maybe it’ll work like the The Big Owe or the initially problem-plagued system at Miller Park.
Other innovations are being considered, such as movable walls that can allow suites to be resized on demand, and a club concept called “The 100 Yard Bar” with a display (and bar) that runs the full length of the field. (Check out the Georgia World Congress Center’s site devoted to stadium development for presentations by the GWCC and 360.)
No, this doesn’t change my mind that the Georgia Dome doesn’t need to be replaced. It’s still a perfectly good football and basketball venue. Of course, if either the Solarium or Pantheon get built, I’ll definitely hop on a Delta flight to Atlanta to bathe in the new ambience.
The Raiders and A’s share a stadium. Now they’ll also share a radio station. It took a couple years, but the Silver and Black will finally start having their games broadcast on 95.7 The Game starting with the upcoming 2013 NFL season. It’s a move that has been speculated since the station launched as the A’s flagship.
While the Raiders’ coverage will decrease in comparison to former home KSFO on the AM side, the sports radio station’s programming is far and away more compatible, especially because play-by-play man Greg Papa is already a fixture in The Wheelhouse’s noon timeslot. Non-game coverage will expand, with the Raiders displacing the 49ers in the Monday themed day, good for armchair QB-ing and GM-ing. Previously the Raiders’ day was Friday.
In the event of a conflict with the A’s, Raiders broadcasts will be on 102.1/98.5 KFOX, home of the Sharks and Entercom stablemate. KFOX has a better coverage footprint than KGMZ (The Game), which leads me to think that the Raiders actually negotiated this provision knowing that it was available via Entercom.
Potential for some conflict is high, though not so much in head-to-head timeslot situations. Mostly it’s a case of an A’s game finishing just before the start of a Raiders game during preseason or early during the regular season.
Since the Raiders are expected to have full pre and postgame coverage for each game, it’s likely that all of the weeks above will be on KFOX, with the exception of the 8/29 game against the Seahawks.
Eventually, fans may clamor for more games on KFOX due to the better distributed signal. Of course, that will run into further conflicts with the Sharks, whose season starts in October as the baseball season ends. The 2013-14 NHL schedule, which will be the first under the new realignment scheme, has not yet been released.
Conflicts or not, it’s good that the Raiders are back on a sports station, which they haven’t been since they left 1050 years ago. Whether this will turn The Game into a proper East Bay-focused station is up to Entercom, whose station management has been careful to cater to all Bay Area fans much to the dismay of A’s and Raiders fans. In turn, the Raiders may have to beef up their affiliate network to compensate for The Game’s less signal.
To kick off the new relationship, Raiders draft day coverage is being held today on The Game.
The Raiders released an online survey to select season ticket holders in an effort to determine interest in different pricing options at a future stadium. When teams start to consider developing a new venue, it’s not uncommon to see some kind of outreach as far as five years out. The New York Giants famously burned through their once impressive waiting list in the run-up to MetLife Stadium. Then there’s the Raiders, who have around 30,000 season ticket holders, don’t have the luxury of a waiting list. With the team struggling on the field, fans could be price-sensitive.
The diagram above doesn’t look exactly like any one stadium, perhaps on purpose. It’s there to illustrate specific seating locations and potential amenities for each tier. No assumption should be made about the stadium’s design based on the diagram. The team anticipates having multiple club levels which they call “Prime Seats”, and different types of suite and box options.
Lower Level Prime Seats (Sidelines):
- Blue highlighted areas in hypothetical seating map above
- Prime seats could be wider and have more legroom than typical stadium seating
- Excellent sightlines to the field
- Access to a VIP club lounge with upscale food and beverage options
Mezzanine Level Seats:
- Red highlighted areas in hypothetical seating map
- Same seat comforts, amenities and access as lower level Prime seats, but located further from the field
Loge Boxes (or Mini-Suites):
- Loge boxes are open-air boxes (similar to an opera box) that are typically located at the top of the lower seating bowl (or on the mezzanine level, also known as
the “Club Level” or “Suite Level” in many professional stadiums).
- Loge boxes seat approximately four (4) to eight (8) people and feature comfortable chairs and a counter for food/beverages.
- In the hypothetical map above, loge boxes could be located at the top of the blue sections and/or in the front of the red mezzanine level, with excellent sightlines
to the field.
- Three types of luxury suites could be available:
1) Traditional Luxury Suites located on the mezzanine level (area in red above);
2) Field Level Suites located on the field level with unique sightlines just feet from team benches and players; and,
3) Owner’s Club Suites located adjacent to the owner’s suite in the best suite locations in the stadium (at the top of the lower level, close to the 50-yard line) with
access to the owner’s private all-inclusive club area.
- Luxury suites would have the highest level of seat comforts, amenities and access of any seating option in the stadium.
Just because the survey shows all of these premium options doesn’t mean they’ll all be offered in the end. While we can count on the usual types of suites and at least one club level, the mini-suite concept (similar to what the Earthquakes are offering) isn’t commonplace. Field suites are popular where they’re deployed (Dallas, Seattle, New York, Indy) but they’ll only be offered if there’s a market for them.
The survey also presented respondents with different prices for tickets and seat licenses. That’s right, they may be offering seat licenses again, which makes sense simply because the stadium is going to be so expensive that every effort should be made to take care of debt as early as possible. Under consideration is a seat license plan that is paid off in three years, with the final payment due before the stadium opens. The survey uses the term “Stadium Builders License”, which combined with some of the imagery used in each page leads me to believe that the questions were put together by Legends, the Yankees/Cowboys-owned firm that marketed the 49ers stadium’s tickets and seat licenses. Legends has carved out a pretty good niche in a fairly short period, having built up a lot of experience since their maiden efforts for their owners’ 2009 venues.
Outreach efforts will be key for two reasons. There’s the obvious gauge of demand for certain pricing levels and potential for SBL commitment. This information is important to all parties, including the NFL and Oakland/Alameda County because there needs to be a solid determination of a new Raiders stadium’s feasibility based on advance revenues. If debt service runs $40-50 million per year, the Raiders will need to prove they can pull in $100 million per year in order to get approval from the NFL and loans from banks. If not, they may be advised to pursue other alternatives such as a Coliseum renovation (see: Buffalo).
No questions were posed about the site, the potential for a dome, or the size of the stadium. With such a narrow focus, it’d be foolish to infer anything from the survey besides the aforementioned questions about pricing. That said, these prices are certain to be much more expensive than the recently slashed Coliseum prices. The current Coliseum pricing structure has a single bargain basement, $25 per game price for the entire third deck. The survey had the price for upper deck, 20-yard-line seats at $60 per game. Mezzanine club seats were priced as high as $200 per game (for 10 games) plus a $4,500 or $7,500 SBL fee. Will the market bear higher prices and SBLs for a new Raiders stadium? We’ll find out fairly soon.
A strange and very tentative ruling came down from the Sacramento County Superior Court regarding the $40 million in redevelopment funds earmarked for the 49ers stadium. Judge Allen Sumner ruled that the contract signed by the City, former Redevelopment Agency, and 49ers is legal for a simple reason: the 49ers are a third party. The State’s argument and the law passed in 2011 was such that agreements between a municipality and its redevelopment agency were not so-called enforceable obligations, where tax increment revenue was pledged to pay for a project or debt. Since the 49ers are a party to the agreement, the contract is, in fact, an enforceable obligation. Moreover, the judge wrote that the 49ers aren’t a mere third party beneficiary, they are also a direct party to the agreement since they loaned the money upfront in the first place as RDA funds were on shaky ground during that period.
Despite the judge’s ruling, $15 million in currently frozen funds will not be freed up for the 49ers or schools per last fall’s deal. Instead, Judge Sumner chose to let Santa Clara’s Successor Agency (son of RDA) figure out the repayment schedules (ROPS) for the 49ers and the schools. Until that is determined, the money will remain frozen. This is clearly a victory for the 49ers and for other private parties who have made deals with cities in the run-up to the death of redevelopment. In making this ruling, the judge was clear in that the court had no business redefining what an “enforceable obligation” was.
Reading this ruling’s impact beyond the scope of the 49ers stadium, it won’t necessarily help San Jose or the A’s since they completed their land deal for part of the Diridon site in October 2011, well after the law took effect. Then again, Santa Clara and the 49ers didn’t have their DDA finalized until December 2011. I guess we’ll have to wait for a court to rule on the A’s land deal, whenever that happens.
As the cities of Santa Clara (+ San Francisco) and Miami get closer to the NFL’s May awarding of Super Bowl L to an official host city and stadium, one city is struggling to get its ducks in a row whereas the other is taking care of its final bid details. Miami’s bid is flailing as funding for a major upgrade to Dolphins Stadium remains in limbo. Meanwhile, Santa Clara’s City Council is prepared to approve a series of concessions to the NFL that should sew up the game for the South Bay, while creating a risk that Santa Clara will run in the red in the process.
To help pay off the 49ers stadium, the Stadium Authority has several revenue streams tied to taxes and fees employed for every Niner home game and other events. The NFL requested that such fees be waived for the Super Bowl, and apparently the City is more than happy to comply. Fees being waived include the following:
- 10% NFL Ticket Surcharge – At a conservative set price of $500 per SB L ticket, the $50 surcharge would yield $3.75 million with an expanded capacity of 75,000.
- $0.35 Ticket fee – Meant to fund some senior and youth programs. A cap of $250,000 per year is imposed on this revenue source. If the 49ers play at least one home game, it’s likely that the 49ers would hit the cap, rendering additional collection of this fee moot.
- Hotel tax – A Mello Roos district was created to provide some stadium funding, backed by a hike in the transit occupancy tax from 9.5% to 11.5% in the stadium’s immediate area. The NFL asked for its share (350 rooms for an unspecified number of days) to be waived. Assuming that the NFL needs 350 rooms for the full two weeks, the City would forego some $70,000+ in hotel taxes. The City notes that it expects to make up this loss via taxes collected on additional room bookings.
- Off Site Parking fee – The City has imposed a $4.54 fee per space for event parking. That too will be waived. This appears to be for all Super Bowl activities, not just the game itself. The City notes that the fee is meant to offset the cost of traffic management.
The non profit San Francisco Super Bowl Committee is supposed to reimburse the City for the cost of services rendered by the City (and other jurisdictions). The committee is not going to backfill the City’s lost revenues. Strangely, no estimates of this impact were disclosed, even as the City touts $300 million in additional economic activity for the region. Much of that major economic impact will be felt in San Francisco, where the majority of non-game events will be held. The key will be the layout of the Super Bowl hub surrounding the stadium. If attractions such as the NFL Experience are staged at Moscone Center instead of the Santa Clara Convention Center, real economic impact for Santa Clara will be limited outside of Super Bowl Sunday.
A year ago I wrote about what it would take to host a Super Bowl in the Bay Area, and despite Santa Clara “taking one for the team”, there is a burgeoning sense of excitement about the possibility of hosting the big game. It’s just too bad that the City Council, knowing it had at least a little leverage with the knowledge that Miami is struggling so much, hasn’t considered driving a harder bargain with the NFL. Maybe next time – if there is a next time.
Before you read the rest of this post, head over to Deadspin and read about the Carolina Panthers’ leaked financials from the last two years.
Then read the Charlotte Observer’s piece, which includes a response by the Panthers.
The leaked document came from Deloitte, and there’s nothing to indicate that it’s inaccurate. In fact, the Panthers didn’t deny the report, only saying that the document presented “an incomplete picture” of the team’s profitability. According to the team, the missing context was the uncertainty surrounding the league lockout preceding the 2011 season. It’s not unusual these days for teams to considerably shrink operations during a lockout, establishing a sort of bunker mentality. The consequences can be cruel, as it usually means laying off dozens if not hundreds of “non-essential” personnel. In the Panthers’ case, they decided that they’d be best off reducing player payroll. And so they did with a $77 million roster, $43 million short of the $120 million salary cap set for 2011. Philosophically all of this probably made sense back then, as the team was in rebuilding mode with #1 draft pick Cam Newton and Ron Rivera replacing John Fox at head coach. Newton’s Rookie-of-the-Year campaign juiced the loyal fanbase enough to boost the following year’s payroll to $100 million. Despite that uptick, the Panthers’ record only improved by one win last season. The team finished 3rd in the NFC South, going 7-9. The NFLPA predicts that the 2013 cap will be $123 million.
The Panthers are ranked #16 in the Forbes NFL valuations list with an estimated revenue of $269 million for the 2012 season and a valuation of just over $1 billion. Not knowing Forbes’ exact formula and numbers, I imagine that the discrepancy is mostly a matter of accounting, depending on whether partner distributions (profit-taking) and other maneuvers with team revenue are counted. Distributions amounted to $12,228,541 for both years, or roughly a 6% return on the original $206 million franchise price. That leaves a rather large net income amount that they can do whatever they want with.
One of those things they can do with the money is fund the improvements they are requesting for Bank of America Stadium. You may remember that a month ago, the team struck a deal with the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for a package of improvements that would total $300 million. This week the state balked at giving the share it was expected to provide ($62.5 million), and the leak certainly won’t help Panthers owner Jerry Richardson’s case for a handout. It’ll be interesting to see if new pressure mounts to have the local public funding aspect of the deal reversed, since it’s clear that the team can pay its own way. To do so may require scaling things back a bit, but really, why on earth is $250-300 million necessary for a stadium that’s only 17 years old and is one of the better designed and maintained facilities in the league? The Panthers had expected to pay $96 million of the project cost. If the City/County reneg on their part, Richardson could be forced to scale back the project to, say, half the size and cost at $125 million. That amount in a loan for 25 years at 6% runs $9.3 million per year. With what we’ve learned this week, Richardson and the Panthers can afford it. Of course, this news didn’t come in time before Atlanta officials announced that a deal has been struck for the Falcons’ $1 billion retractable dome plan, which will include $200 million in public funding.
What does this mean for the Raiders? Politically, it’s terrible. Not only will the memory of the Mt. Davis debacle not go away, now comes this news that should cast doubt on any team crying poor and looking for a public handout.
Except for one thing. When the Raiders cry poor, they are in fact, poor. Not poor as in sleeping on the street, but poor in terms of losing money on a regular basis. Forbes noted that the Raiders posted losses last year and in 2009. The Oregon professor consulted by Deadspin for the article, Dennis Howard, mentioned that when he looked at league financials a decade ago, the Raiders lost money then. Considering how bad a deal Mt. Davis has been for all concerned parties, it could be the worst all-around stadium deal in the history of sports. Nevertheless, the fundamentals are that the Raiders continue to come up short in the revenue game in Oakland. Worse, they don’t have the cash reserves or cash flow to bankroll a significant new stadium project. Perhaps they don’t even have enough to fund a revamped Coliseum as I’ve suggested. Season ticket rolls going into the new tarped-off Coliseum were lower than another Raiders team – the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who hit over 30,000 season tickets last year – and that’s an also-ran program in the Big 12.
The NFL is giving the Raiders guidance and the Raiders are taking steps to boost revenue, but as we know in the Bay Area, they’re not going to see big returns unless the team starts winning as it did a decade ago. It’s hard to see how this can be turned around as long as the dependency is there. No wonder the NFL is skittish about earmarking G-4 money for a Raiders stadium project. We know that in the short term the Raiders will have two choices: stay at the Coliseum while working out a venue deal in Oakland, or go to Santa Clara for 5-10 years. I wrote a month ago that the costs could prove prohibitive in Santa Clara if they were to pay for the true cost to stage the games, compared to continuing to get a large subsidy from Oakland/Alameda County. Ultimately, the cheapest option may be for the Raiders to limp along in the Coliseum as is while the parties wait for the fanbase to grow as the team improves. Hopefully, this doesn’t also mean that the A’s will have to keep sharing the Coliseum indefinitely. That’s not something that either the NFL or MLB want.
Added 11:00 AM – Deadspin just completed a reader chat with University of Michigan sports economics professor Rodney Fort. Some of it is good reading.