The limits of the NFL’s G-4 stadium loan program

Last week at the NFL owners meetings, the assembled owners approved a raft of small G-4 loans for current NFL stadia. The recipients include the Panthers ($37.5 million), Redskins ($27 million), and Browns ($62.5 million). Combine that with the $58 million the Packers received last year, and you’ve got nearly the amount of one full slots ($200 million) awarded to a team building a new stadium. The fund, a continuation of the G-3 program started with the previous CBA, has already assigned full slots for the 49ers, Falcons, and Vikings. All told that’s around $800 million. When the 49ers were starting construction, I figured that there was about $1 billion available, making for 4 new stadium slots and the rest for renovation work.

Since the CBA was signed, the NFL’s revenues have risen at a 5% annual clip. 2011 produced $9 billion, 2012 yielded $9.5 billion. It stands to reason that the league will eclipse $10 billion either this year or next year. That’s a point of pride for commissioner Roger Goodell, who envisions the league reaching a whopping $25 billion in revenue by 2027. It’s that growth that may allow the NFL to loosen some pursestrings and provide more G-4 money.

Rules are well set, with all projects falling into specific tranches of potential funding. After the $200 or $250 million limit, the NFL provides access to banking syndicates that provide much of the gap funding. So far the 49ers and Vikings have utilized this access. It’s definitely no giveaway. Team owners have to pony up at least $50 million to get started, and the NFL provides matching funds depending on the amount a team owner is willing to provide. Of course, there’s also a public share that comes into play, since the NFL will only provide access to G-4 loans if it sees what it considers a viable public-private partnership.

The G-4 program has a set limit of 1.5% of annual revenue to fund various projects. In the first year of the current CBA, that amounted to $135 million. The loans are for as little as 15 years, so the annual payments can be quite high. For a $200 million loan at 7-9%, that’s up to $25 million per year. That translates to 4 full slots and the remainder for renovation work. However, if annual revenue rises above $10 billion that limit rises to $150 million, or 5 full slots and the renovation remainder. That could be huge for the remaining teams that haven’t yet finalized stadium deals, such as the Chargers, Rams, and Raiders. If the NFL chooses to base G-4 availability on initial revenue projections, the limit may be set at 4 slots, the same way the G-3 program slammed the door shut after 4 $150 million slots were awarded (DAL, IND, NY x 2). If the owners are comfortable with expanding the program, another slot just might open up. Three teams competing for two slots is a lot more comforting than all three competing for one award.

Still, time is of the essence. Given the league’s previous history it seems unlikely that they’ll make huge loans in the back half of the CBA. The incentive is there for the owners and municipalities to act quickly. For now, the NFL has chosen to control the funding process through G-4, public funding, and the banking syndicates, instead of allowing a third party like AEG to buy its way into taking some revenue or a piece of a team. If you’re Goodell it makes sense. What he doesn’t want is for outsiders to chip away at what it considers “pure” revenue streams, nor does he want to set a precedent that team stakes are easily available in exchange for a stadium. With the three remaining teams, we may be coming to a point where he has no choice. The best way for the Raiders to stay in Oakland may be to exchange a minority share for a new Raiders Coliseum.

Tim Kawakami had another chat with Mark Davis this week. Davis continues to play good cop with Oakland officials, while unnamed sources (league? team?) assume the bad cop role via Matier & Ross. Davis may not be negotiating through the media in public, but someone is. Davis say that Tuesday’s City Council vote is a “positive step” but there are many moving parts in getting the deal to work, whatever form it takes. If, as Kawakami surmises, Davis considers this the last chance to stay in Oakland, the bowl-cutted one is certainly giving the appearance of due diligence. Davis’s previous comments about the team’s share of a new Coliseum indicate that he’d be interested in one of the G-4 slots, since it would involve club seat and suite revenue. Davis will get to see everything develop right in front of him, which will inform his decision. Instead of deciding right after the current season ends, he could take a page out of his late father’s playbook. Al didn’t finalize the deal to move the Raiders back from LA to Oakland until July 1995.

I remember that summer being a whirlwind of activity for the Raiders and A’s as I spent much of that year in the locker rooms. I wonder if we’re due for another whirlwind.

43 thoughts on “The limits of the NFL’s G-4 stadium loan program

  1. I hope, the the Raiders can work somthing out in Oakland (Mark Davis seems like he would like to), C.C. may have a chance, lots of work to go, but it may have a real chance.

  2. Football does not deserve new stadiums for a sport that does not understand the health risks the sport imposes on players – youth, high school, college or professional players are at serious risk each time they take the field.

    Notwithstanding the current popularity of the NFL if you haven’t seen “League of Denial” on you should spend a few hours watching it and it’s follow-up on High School football and you may conclude that football will gradually become a “cult” sport in this country over the next several decades. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, has opined that because of the health risks associated with football future populations of the pool of potential football players will be diminished, much like boxing has become, to minorities and lower economic class individuals. Educated people will not allow their offspring to take the risk of playing football on any level because of the unknown risks. I have been following this story closely and concur with Gladwell, and am personally very disapointed in the NFL’s response to this epidemic. CTE was found in a high school player and a college player, both of whom died. This is the tip of the iceberg. It only gets worse from here. Long live baseball, basketball, and hockey.

  3. Locker rooms? Why?

  4. If the NFL truly only has one last G-4 slot in this CBA, I’d imagine $200M in LA is a more popular decision league wide than $200M in Oakland. Chargers, Raiders, and Rams – two out of those three are destined for LA, IMO.

    This piece is the first I’ve learned that the NFL strongly prefers to avoid outside stadium construction/facility control. It makes sense – certainly that’s plagued NBA arena revenue – but I hadn’t put together that that might be one of the purposes of G-3 and G-4 funding.

  5. Jacob, don’t count on the Chargers being that LA bound team. Looks like they’re actually setting their sights on their own stadium parking lot for the first time in a decade (and quite frankly it’s always the site in San Diego that’s made the most sense for a football stadium given the infrastructure is already there and unlike the Coliseum it’s not in an industrial wasteland part of town).

    And all this despite the fact the city rebuked them earlier this month by siding against the team when the San Diego Convention Center expansion plan went before the California Coastal Commision. The team had hoped to build a domed stadium/convention center expansion a few blocks from the rest of the convention center in San Diego’s east village. The Chargers big issue is the Spanos family has no interest in selling off a portion of the team to get to LA. They’d rather maintain their status quo as owners in San Diego than be second rate partners in LA. And unlike the Raiders in Oakland, the Spanos family does seem willing to pony up, potentially to the tune of $400 million, in addition to $200 mil in G4 funds and whatever they can get for naming rights and via PSLs before the city even has to contribute a dime. And San Diego isn’t near as financially strapped as Oakland.

  6. re: I have been following this story closely and concur with Gladwell, and am personally very disapointed in the NFL’s response to this epidemic.

    …yes, that PBS special is a large wrecking bell tossed at the foundation of the NFL. But what is the NFL supposed to do – admit its sport is very dangerous, tell the 49ers to stop construction on the $1.1 billion stadium, etc? I see a diminished interest in football in coming years, now that people know the price the players are paying.

  7. @Dan – I’m going to wait until San Diego gets someone competent and not corrupt/sleazy in the Mayor’s office, then see what his/her stance is. Without the Mayor making the stadium a priority there’s no reason to expect anything to happen quickly within the City.

    Also – interesting that Colony Capital is a potential Spanos partner on developing the Qualcomm site.

  8. @pjk

    An analogy has been made between the NFL and dogfighting – NFL players are beholden to their owners, such as dogs, and their survival in the sport/ring is directly dependent on their performance against their foes. In both cases violent injury is imposed on the opponent – the NFL has known for years that blunt force trauma to the head is a cause of long term mental health deterioration but purposefully and intentionally withheld this scientific data from players and the public. No football helmet safety measures can change what happens inside the skull, in other words the game of football is the problem, not helmets. Because of these facts, it is argued that more and more people will begin to withdraw or prevent their kids from playing football. Overtime this will reduce the sport to a second tier sport, and lose popularity like boxing. In essence football will become a “ghetto” sport.

    Thus, public support/dollars for stadia which promotes mental health injury is detrimental to our society. Anytime our elected leaders spend working on these projects is also detrimental to our society.

  9. re: in other words the game of football is the problem,

    …That does appear to be the case.

  10. The NFL is not in danger for the foreseeable future. College football aka minor league football is more popular than ever with ratings that eclipses baseball.

  11. As far as Mark Davis playing “Good Cop” to the NFL’s “Bad Cop” it makes perfect sense, because he does not want to be vilified like Wolff is. As far as the League is concerned, they have successfully used Los Angeles, as a threat to other Cities (as the NBA & NHL are doing with Seattle), but those days are coming to an end, because the only way a threat can work, is if people really believe you will use it. No City is scared of losing their team to the “LA Boogieman” anymore (which is why you hear so much about “London” (if Las Vegas gets a Stadium, you will hear “Vegas” mentioned, as would any team that moved to LA, such as St Louis if it is the Rams)). It is also apparent, that Alex Spanos does not want the Chargers to share in LA, and everyone knows it, which along with dislike of the family, is why he cannot get a different site in San Diego, so it is a likely rebuild at Qualcomm. Except for the Wolff-like dislike of ownership, it sounds like Davis, doesn’t it? Just substitute the name “49ers” for say “Rams”, and you get the picture. The problem for Davis remains of course, the A’s. There are only several options open for Davis. 1: LA. 2: Renting from the 49ers (not what he wants but viable). 3: Building in the suburbs or Rebuilding at the Coliseum Site but without the A’s (the ONLY option that guarantees the Raiders one day having a solo site). 4: A short term lease at the Coliseum, with the A’s remaining as well (hoping something else becomes available, such as London, Vegas, or a Coliseum rebuild (minus the A’s), basically the 6-8 year term that Rebecca Kaplan talked about). 5: A combination of Options 2 & 3. The question for Davis and the NFL is this: Will the Raiders be playing in their own Stadium in the Bay Area, Vegas or somewhere by say 2018? (That should a realistic time-frame for everyone concerned). If the answer is yes, then they play at the Coliseum in 2014. If they think Quan & Kaplan are jerking them around, with a maybe answer, they will probably not take the chance and head to Santa Clara or LA for next Season.

  12. As I’ve stated in previous comments, a short-term lease for the Raiders at the new Santa Clara stadium is a no-brainer. It keeps all options on the table without moving the team from the Bay Area, while at the same time keeps putting pressure on Oakland to work out a suitable Coliseum City stadium deal with the Raiders. Ideally, Mark Davis would rather have a quick permanent solution for a new stadium, but all viable options are at least two or three years away before an eventual stadium site would be shovel ready. Also, a temporary move of the Raiders to Santa Clara would give the A’s more leverage in their negotiations with the Coliseum Authority on a short-term lease renewal. The A’s would gladly renew their Coliseum lease for two or three years duration plus one year options, depending on the status of the Coliseum site relating to a possible new stadium for the Raiders.

  13. Llpec, I stated that your idea is viable and listed it as Option 5 (the combination of Options 2 & 3). It works one of two ways: a: If the the Raiders & NFL determine they WILL or PROBABLY WILL get a stand alone Stadium in the Bay Area (no A’s). Coupled with that, a one year lease at the Coliseum makes sense for 2014, so the NFL can plan their Schedule well in advance, without worrying about two teams in one facility (Raiders & 49ers), while all of the necessary regulations are ironed out. ps. This could also get the A’s two more years at the Coliseum (2014 AND 2015), while they look for a new home. b: There is no agreement but the Raiders believe something realistically CAN get done (lets say odds of 50/50). Note: It is more the Raiders than the NFL, because Davis rejected Santa Clara before. However, if the Raiders along with the NFL, determine they will be strung out with study after study until Quan is reelected, with the ultimate answer being Kaplan’s 6-8 years MAYBE, then it will likely be LA.

  14. Semi related- predictions:
    A’s in Southern Alameda County
    Raiders in Los Angeles
    Warriors in San Francisco

    All by 2020

  15. @Jeffrey
    A’s I hope in Oakland, but ok with San Jose
    Raiders in Oakland (I really think Davis wants it.)
    Warriors in San Francisco (peirs30/32 look so nice)
    In the year 2020. Is it just me or did 2020 at some point in our lives seem so far away?

  16. @Jeffrey,
    I actually agree with your predictions. Still, think (or hoping) there’s a chance the Raiders will actually make something happen in Oakland, but right now it’s not looking good. Are you really suggesting that Fremont is still alive for the A’s? Not giving up on the downtown San Jose dream. But if SJ is a definite no go, or MLB makes it to difficult for Wolff to relocate across Dixon Landing Road (Giants indemnification, debt concerns), then I will support Fremont 100%. You say southern Alameda County; I say FAR NORTH San Jose/Silicon Valley.. 😉

  17. @Lakshore,
    In 2020 I’ll be retiring from SCCO. Retirement seemed a long way off when Rhamesis started this blog in 05. Who would have thought in 2013 we’d still be at it. All good things come to those who wait I guess…

  18. @Tony D.
    I guess Jeffrey, is the only person beside you and I that thinks Fremont is still possible.

  19. @Tony D.
    Amen Tony, amen to that.

  20. I shutter to think about the traffic nightmare enhanced by a ballpark near Mission/Dixon Landing exits on 880. My Mom lives there, and while I like the convenience of having a homebase so close to an A’s ballpark, overall it’s a miserable spot. I’d rather have the A’s suffer away at the Coliseum until 2030 if it means they’ll play in downtown Oakland or San Jose. Any other location is a death sentence.

  21. @briggs,
    BART (the non-strike version).

  22. @Lakeshore/Neil I not only believe Fremont is still possible, I believe it would probably happen relatively quickly if San Jose were definitively ruled out.

  23. Once again, where in Fremont? The west-of-880 site that I think Lew Wolff sold off already? The south-of-NUMMI site that is now being developed? Or, the Warm Springs site that aroused 700-persons-a-night protests by the neighbors, who said a ballpark would bring in “crime and chaos?” They also had slogans such as “Kids First – No Ballpark.” How keeping out the A’s helps kids, I don’t even want to begin to try to figure that one out. Bottom line: There’s no place left to go in Fremont.

  24. @bartleby Ok good, I think that makes four of us, but pjk brings up some questions, that would have to be answerd. I think Tony D. came up with the thought of limited ability to sue (NIMBY see Warriors/ Kings appr. from Sac), pehaps the A’s can get the same deal, also the point has been made, that Wolff sold the land that he had in Fremont, but just because he sold it does not mean he cant build on it. Its not going to be easy, and like Briggs, I would much rather it in downtown Oakland or San Jose, but Fremont is a good fallback if eather, or both dont work. Its a lot better then Portland

  25. MLB knows by now that the A’s have only one realistic site for their new ballpark within the Bay Area market. The fact that Selig’s Blue Ribbon Committee has not yet come up with a specific recommended site for the A’s new ballpark, after all this time, is indicative that the BRC has not found any suitable ballpark sites within the A’s so called “territory”. The roadblocks to getting MLB to approve the A’s move to that one realistic ballpark site located within the Giants’ so called “territory” is not as insurmountable as Selig has so often publicly proclaimed. In my opinion, the ongoing lawsuits by San Jose against MLB, and the leverage and clout that the Raiders appear to be having with Oakland in possibly getting their new Stadium at the Coliseum site, all could be key factors putting pressure on MLB to ultimately give approval for the A’s to move to San Jose.

  26. @Lakeshore,
    You last post was definitely on point. My thoughts exactly.
    I hope you’re right…

  27. @llpec Or they (MLB), could be waiting for that realistic, suitable site in Oakland to open up (H.T.), I know many people dont think so (no stones please), and will bring up Wolff ruleing it out some time ago, or the study of sites in OakAlameda Co area, from the early 2000’s, there is a good chance that the reason, the site did not rate higher at that time, is because of the costsite control, and not because it was a bad site, its been said that MLB likes the site (if thats true), it could also explain, why so much time has gone by without the A’s getting the green light for SJ (other then the Giants TR’s ), it could also expain SJ vs MLB, I am sure Wolff would have let SJ know if a move to SJ was going to happen anytime soon. I think the last time Wolff was asked about H.T., he simply said “we have looked at it” he did not rule out looking at it again, I am not saying its a go at H.T., we dont know if it can even be built on, we dont know how it gets paid for, but just because MLB has not made news public does not mean you should asume, there is none, we are all reading tealeavs, my friend.

  28. The fact of the matter is San Jose has much better than a 50% chance of beating MLB and the MLB ATE – if the lawsuit reaches the SCOTUS. The MLB ATE is in trouble. MLB has a very real possibility of losing two lawsuits to San Jose (despite all their rhetoric, MLB is aware of that)

    This is an example of how wobbly the MLB ATE is: During the recent ruling by the federal judge in favor of MLB – MLB used the Curt Flood case as their precedent for arguing against San Jose. In fact, the Judge who made the ruling on that Curt Flood vs MLB case at that time (in favor of the MLB ATE)added when making the ruling that the MLB ATE’s legal status was debatable and the ruling should not be considered as affirming the ATE’s legal status (the MLB defense used it as precedence even after the judge’s comments instructed that it shouldn’t be used that way) It could be very likely that Selig will cut a deal with the A’s before the state torts portion of the SJ vs MLB case goes to trial.

    Some people are jumping to conclusions because of judge’s ruling not giving the SJ vs MLB case standing means that the A’s won’t move to San Jose – very wishful thinking (what’s that saying? hopers don’t win – usually true)

    Also, Jacksonville and St. Louis may be the top candidates for the LA move. Jacksonville could sign Tebow and increase their attendance 20,000 per game – it’s not likely coincidence that they have avoided signing Tebow yet. The NFL commissioner has already expressed dissapointment with Jacksonville’s attendance, and also has said that the NFL prefers the Raiders stay in Oakland and Chargers in San Diego.

  29. @Tony D. Thanks, first rounds on me at the new ballpark San Jose, Fremont, or Oakland.

  30. @duffer You could be corrert about SJ vs MLB, I think I just have an issue when I fill like people rule things out (Oakland, Fremont, or San Jose), about the only thing I am sure of, is I am not sure of much with the A’s situation. BTW I agree with you 100% on the NFL, perhaps its because I am such a big Raider fan, at this point it looks like they are the only team Oakland my keep.

  31. @Lakeshore/Neil ditto – the A’s could indeed remain in Oakland – not because MLB will block their way to SJ – because of other factors though. Those who believe that the A’s to San Jose is finished are nuts though.

  32. @duffer I agree, they are nuts.

  33. @Duffer

    I still feel the best way to beat MLB’s sacred cow is by someone in Congress starting some sort of ATE legislation. Since Congress is dysfunctional atm it won’t happen, and I don’t feel the SCOTUS will rule against MLB’s ATF. I agree with the Rams or Chargers moving to LA, with the Raiders being the darkhorse if nothing can be found in Oakland.

    As for the NFL in LA, whoever moves there better have a plan and find an ideal stadium location for the team. Hollywood Park would be the best location if you are willing to find a team and owner that can pay for the stadium and the land.

    My bet is that the Jags will relocate to London in the next 10-20 years.

  34. @Lakeshore, At one time, I had a very favorable opinion of two proposed sites within Oakland that I considered possible ideal sites for a new A’s ballpark. One was at the Uptown area of downtown Oakland, and the other was Victory Court near Lake Merritt. The uptown proposal never went very far since the then Mayor Brown wanted that area to be designated for housing. As for Victory Court, I think that site became just too costly to build a ballpark at that site and there may have been infrastructure issues there as well. All the other proposed Oakland sites seemed to be less desirable in terms of having less potential for a successful ballpark operation, or they had potentially severe environmental, and infrastructural/accessibility issues.

  35. Mike2 – you’ve been listening to giants b.s. and KNBR too much. Ask any legal expert knowledgable about the MLB ATE and they will tell you that its legal status is questionable. The SJ vs MLB case may finally do it in (that is if Selig doesnt’ cut a deal with the A’s and San Jose first because MLB is aware of that fact) No congressional action would be necessary – more giants propaganda. The fact is that MLB could lose to San Jose with both the state torts and the MLB ATE – if Selig doesn’t cut a deal with the A’s before.

  36. Duffer,the Jacksonville Jaguars are not going to Los Angeles, despite the fact, their attendance sucks, because they have a long-term lease (just like with the Tampa Bay Rays situation). The problem franchises for the NFL right now are the San Diego Chargers, St Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins & of course, the Raiders. Note: The Buffalo Bills signed a six year extension to stay at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and Rogers Communications (who owns the Blue Jays) are converting the Rogers Centre (formally Sky Dome), into a baseball only facility, with the CFL Toronto Argonauts leaving in a few years (so NO Toronto for the Bills). But the Bills situation long term will be left for another day. I think the Dolphins problem will end when Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (the guy who blocked the Dolphins from getting a $400m upgrade) leaves the Leadership Post in 2015, and the outcome of the race between Gov. Scott (R) and former Gov. Charlie Christ (D)is determined. If you take those franchises out of the running, you are left with the Rams (the strongest candidate to move), the Chargers and the Raiders. I suspect the Chargers are staying, because of the conduct of Spanos (not moving already to LA and looking at Qualcomm), I think in the end, it will be the Raiders (along with the Rams) moving to LA. Which leaves St Louis, and maybe Vegas, as possibilities for the Bills, when their lease ends.

  37. I wouldn’t classify the Dolphins as much of a problem franchise either. They own their stadium that despite their protestations is not that out of date having been built in the late 80’s (and arguably kicked off the current stadium building trend for football) and was designed primarily as a football stadium. Any noise the Dolphins are making is solely to try and get some help for a renovation of their current place. They’ve no intention of leaving Miami.

  38. Dan I agree the Dolphins are not leaving, but the NFL still wants to get the Fish an upgrade of their facility and until they do, the League will hold stuff like no Super Bowl’s for Miami and a possible relocation over the head of the City and State. I suspect that in 2015 they will get something. I still say it will be the Raiders and Rams, moving to LA.

  39. @David Brown – I don’t know about that. If Jacksonville isn’t moving to LA, their next stop is London. Either way – they likely will have a short stay in Jacksonville. Roger Goodell appears to be a powerful commissioner, it appears when Goodell wants to accomplish a goal, it gets done.

  40. As of now, I believe the NFL considers the Rams to have the most urgent stadium situation. The Rams have a one time window to break their long-term lease immediately at the conclusion of the 2015 NFL season; if St. Louis doesn’t come up with an acceptable plan to either renovate the Edward Jones Dome, or to have it completely replaced with a new stadium. As of now, both the Chargers and the Raiders would prefer to remain in their current markets, and would want to give their respective markets more time to come up with an acceptable new stadium deal before seriously looking elsewhere. Also, while it seems as though the NFL would ultimately want two teams in Los Angeles, it’s understood that two teams playing there would not be workable until the new LA football stadium is completed. As of now, either the Raiders or the Chargers could be the second team to move to Los Angeles, if either team is unable to get new stadium deals in their current respective markets.

  41. @David Brown, FYI: at the SD/Jacksonville NFL game – there must be 30,000 tops in attendance, likely less than that. (Even during the JaDufus days – the Raiders never have drawn that badly – with the exception their tenure at LA)- the Jaguars are so outta there(Jacksonville)

  42. My “Southern Alameda County” thought is a,long the lines that at some point, SJ gets tired of holding prime real estate in a burgeoning metropolis for a league that keeps thumbing it’s nose in their direction. The A’s need Silicon Valley to build a privately financed stadium. Proximity matters. I am not saying Fremont is on the table, just saying that if and when SJ gets tired of this crap, the only way to get the proximity required to build a stadium is to get something done in Fremont.

  43. If the Jags move, I’d expect it to be to London, or someplace similary not in the US.

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