The Tampa area was hit especially hard by the housing market's collapse and ensuing recession, to the point that a 10-6 Buccaneers season in 2010 wasn't enough to draw people to the stadium to spend cash they didn't have. Meanwhile, the Glazer family seemed preoccupied with its other major sporting franchise -- English Premier League soccer's Manchester United -- and followed up a "home" game in London in 2009 with another in 2011.
The combination of the Glazers' apparent apathy, fans' growing disillusionment and a continued string of blackouts blocking Tampa's access to its sizable public investment made the team look like a good candidate for relocation at the beginning of the season. But the Buccaneers' latest move isn't that of a franchise with wandering eyes: Complaining about facilities, squeezing a market for stadium upgrades, making regular trips abroad, openly sniping with their host city or state.
This is a franchise returning the public's investment at a time when the NFL's come under increased scrutiny for gorging itself on public funds and providing little in return. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has targeted the league's tax-exempt status and the millions it isn't paying on $9.5 billion in revenue. Fellow Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, meanwhile, introduced legislation that would prevent NFL teams from blacking out games played in NFL stadiums paid for with public money.
Meanwhile, fans are becoming increasingly aware of -- and frustrated with -- the NFL's largesse. Thanks to the league's nonprofit distinction, it's been revealed that Commissioner Roger Goodell makes roughly $30 million a year. It's also come to light that about half of the NFL's revenue comes from lucrative television contracts. Fox (FOXA), CBS (CBS) and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC agreed to pay the NFL $28 billion for broadcast rights through 2022. Walt Disney's (DIS) ESPN has a separate $1.9 billion annual deal for Monday night football, while DirecTV (DTV) has a $1 billion per season agreement for the NFL Sunday Ticket package that is set to become even more lucrative once the current contract expires in 2015.The league's television revenue is slated to rise from an average of $4 billion a year to $5 billion annually as new contracts kick in.
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