The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Monday, October 03, 2005

Express-News Employee Outed

No, not in that sense. Robert Kolarik, E-N news desk copy chief, registered at a New Orleans Saints discussion forum as SanAntonioSaint and was outed by the moderators for ironically commenting that New Orleans' Arena Football League team, the Voodoo, could also play here in San Antonio:

editor Robert Kolarik (News Desk Copy Chief) of the San Antonio Express-News who registered as SanAntonioSaint. In Mr. Kolarik's registration, he lists his interests and occupation as "Stealing Teams". Ain't that a real knee-slapper?In SanAntonioSaint's one and only post to date, he had this to say regarding the recent announcement that the New Orleans VooDoo would cancel their 2006 season:

quote:Hey! We have the SBC Center! When the Spurs are out of town, the VooDoo could play there! Yet another team for San Antonio!!!! (BTW: I'M KIDDING!!!)It may be one post, but notice how he masters the art of the troll.

He even uses the old "I'm kidding" smokescreen to temper the obvious troll attempt. Kudos to the members here for not taking the bait.You would think that an employee of a major newspaper with such a responsible position would have better things to do on company time than to go out and throw salt in the wounds of the New Orleanians who have lost so much.

Kolarik then decided, (foolishly in my mind) to respond with a clarification. Which only added fuel to the fire. Over fifty comments, the majority ripping Kolarik and San Antonio. Kolarik then commits heresy, giving them reasons as to why we will not, at least in the forseeable future, land a football team:

Now, as to what I personally (remember, PERSONALLY) think of the situation: The Saints won't end up in San Antonio, for several reasons.

1. The Cowboys. They own this market. Houston is closer to S.A., but the Texans have little interest here.

2. Really, how could the NFL move the Saints from New Orleans in the wake of the tragedy there? Maybe years from now when Katrina is a distant memory, but not in my (at age 50) lifetime.

3. The Alamodome. It's fine for the annual Alamo Bowl and maybe the occasional preseason NFL game, but as a regular NFL venue? I don't see it.

4. S.A. may be the eighth-largest city in the nation, but it's WAY down in the televison standings. It's like the No. 30 television market. Why? Unlike most other places, San Antonio is NOT surrounded by suburbs. Yes, the I-35 corridor between here and Austin is growing and growing and growing, but in most other directions, there are miles and miles of, well, miles and miles.

Point number one deserves no response and points two and three will be discussed at length later on, but point four makes no sense whatsoever. The facts are correct, but Kolarik fails to mention some other facts. A- That while San Antonio is 37th in Neilson market rankings, New Orleans is 43rd. So that argument doesn't hold much water. B- As this AP article points out (and the Houston Texans football ads I saw today while watching various football games), all North American sports leagues are looking to expand their fan base from locally to regionally, and in some cases, statewide. If we take this view, as I have done numerous times, then we can add the Hill Country, Austin, and the Rio Grande Valley which would add about 1.8 million people to our target area- or one and a half times more residents than live in San Antonio alone.

But this isn't going to be what ultimately decides whether the Saints move back or not. One of the biggest points- the biggest point in my mind- is going to be whether or not the Superdome is playable. No one is going to know how much and how extensive the Superdome's structural damage is until the dome is cleaned and decontaminated. But let's say, for arguments sake, that the damage is minimal. In this instance, there would have to be some construction to repair the damage, but it could- theoretically- be done by the start of the 2006 season. If this is the case, then the possibility of the Saints playing in New Orleans hinges on how many New Orleanians are back in town and have the income to sustain a team. And in a short-term scenario like this one, Tom Benson would have to wonder if there are enough people living back in New Orleans with a large enough amount of disposable income to support his team and the staff that he pays. Like it or not, our sports franchises are businesses, one whose job is not only to win but also to meet payroll. In a short term scenario such as this one, would there be enough interest within a year to do this?

In another scenario we'd find the Superdome had sustained extensive structural damage and would have to be demolished, with another stadium built in its place. It took about three years to build the Alamodome in the early nineties and I would assume that would be the general amount of time to build one in New Orleans. So, under this scenario, New Orleans would not have the ability to host a NFL team until sometime around 2009. Both the NFL and Saints franchise are reluctant to hold anything more than four games in Baton Rouge, for a variety of reasons. San Antonio would be the logical place for the Saints to relocate in that timespan.

Of course, if we're talking a 'temporary' relocation of three or four seasons, then- as a Saints player or employee- you'd have to question the wisdom of moving a franchise back to its original location. I don't know the specifics of team roster turnover, but I'd expect it to be extensive in a three to four year span. Some players and team employees would only know San Antonio as home. All of the Saints would have to uproot families that would have become comfortable in one city and move- in some cases, move back- to another. That's something tough to ask of your employees. Plus, it also leaves San Antonio high and dry, and you'd have to wonder- if this were the plan to be implemented- if SA would even support the Saints under these terms. Why spend your hard earned money on a franchise that is going back to NO in a few years unless there's a carrot there to entice you (ie, expansion franchise)?

But there's an underlying factor that hasn't been calculated in all of this. In either scenario, where is the city of New Orleans going to get the money to refurnish or reconstruct the Superdome? Will this be part of the federal government's rebuilding projects? And if it is, where does it rank in priority? If it's not, I'd assume it would be quite a while before the city could finance either project, their tax base is shot right now, as there's no way to expect Tom Benson- who was pushing for Superdome upgrades, but had been unsuccessful in getting them- would solely shoulder this fiscal burden. Maybe the state government could step in if the federal government could not. But if the state government steps in to a situation like this, I'm pretty sure we'd hear some outcries from the citizenry, especially if there's still numerous other things to be done in New Orleans.

There's still so much more that needs to be figured out in New Orleans that all of this is speculation to begin with. But I thought I'd add my analysis to a situation that is going to be decided by something other than whether or not San Antonio deserves an NFL franchise or whether its New Orleans right to have the Saints back.