According to Forbes, Dan Snyder has run the NFL's most profitable team in the past decade, with an average operating income of $78 million. That's $780 million in operating profits. Forbes ranks the Redskins #4 among the world's most valuable sports teams, with $1.55 billion value.
Instead of winning, Snyder & Co. have been making money. Meanwhile, by failing to invest money in a world-class training facility, Snyder has ensured that the team would lose, or at least never win big. Why? Because in today's NFL, the single most important long-term investment an owner can make in a franchise is a top training facility, specifically one with a large, indoor practice field in a permanent structure. (Not merely a bubble.) Such a facility enables the team to conduct crisp practices for all 16 games and the playoffs, providing "Home Facilities Advantage" for all games.
Consider these statistics:
Sure, the Redskins will apparently have a bubble finally for the 2011 season. But, a bubble is a cheap solution, costing as little as $100K. That's a few plays from Albert Haynesworth. These days, the going rate for a world-class NFL training facility is $75 million. That's what the Jets paid for theirs. Dan Snyder & Co are pocketing $780 million and tossing Mike Shanahan a bubble.
- 13 of last 14 Super Bowl participants had their own indoor practice facility.
- Last 8 Super Bowl winners had their own indoor practice facility.
- Last 6 Super Bowl winners had a fixed structure indoor practice facility (not a bubble).
- All 12 teams to make playoffs last season used their own indoor practice facility.
- 2010 teams who practiced using their own indoor full-field training facility had a median win total of 10 (10-6 record).
- 2010 teams who practiced outdoors had a median win total of 6 (6-10 record).
- 2010 teams who practiced indoors at own training facility averaged 4 more wins in 2010, compared to those who did not.
- 2010 teams who practiced outdoors and were not located in Florida or California, had the following records: 6-10 (Redskins), 6-10 (Cowboys), 5-11 (Cardinals), 4-12 (Bengals), 4-12 (Broncos), 2-14 (Panthers).
The last time a bubble produced a Super Bowl champion was the 2005 Patriots, whose success was more directly traced to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Patriots have since been beaten in the playoffs by teams with superior training facilities:
The Patriots are the high-water mark of bubble teams, and they've been outflanked by teams with better training facilities. Other teams with bubbles have done worse: Texans, Titans, Dolphins. All three of those teams have bubbles barely large enough for 100 yards.
The Cowboys introduced their bubble facility in 2003, only to see it blow away in 2009. They have not rebuilt an indoor facility of any kind since, and meanwhile they have underperformed.
The Broncos indoor facility isn't even large enough for a football field. Maybe that's why Denver started sliding in the late season under both Shanahan and McDaniels. McDaniels abandoned it altogether and practiced outdoors. You saw how that turned out.
The Redskins won't play deep into the playoffs until they have a first-class training facility with a full-service practice field under a fixed structure. The bubble will help, certainly. But, it's literally a low ceiling in today's NFL. The Redskins simply lack the facilities investment required for success in the NFL. Until Dan Snyder spends what is required, expect the losing and short seasons to continue.
What are we missing? See stats and photos below.
Indoor Factor: Estimated drop in NFL rank attributed to practice facility effect. (Median drop is 13 slots in record for teams without no full-field indoor practice facilities. Drop per team adjusted for weather factors. Some teams with substandard bubble given a drop rating of 4.)
Facilities Advantage: Combination of practice facility and home stadium effects on NFL rank. Home stadium effect determined by National Football Post ranking of NFL stadiums.
Facilities Efficiency: Facilties Advantage, factored by NFL team value as assessed by Forbes. Teams with high Facilities Advantage and relatively low team value are assessed highest Facilities Efficiency. This is the degree of efficient reinvestment of operating profit by team ownership in team facilities. Redskins rank dead last in NFL, by a wide margin.
What the good teams have:
Green Bay Packers: Don Hutson Center (2 indoor practice fields)
Pittsburgh Steelers: UPMC
NY Jets: field house, part of new $75 million facility
New Orleans Saints: 132,000 sq feet
Philadelphia Eagles: NovaCare Complex
What not to build
Denver Broncos: No yard markers, tiny field ... No wonder Shanahan and McDaniels hit the wall.
Miami Dolphins: Any more evidence needed that Dolphins are too cheap to win?
Houston Texans: Not quite ready for prime time, much like the Texans
Tennessee Titans: They'll need more than a Music City Miracle to win big from here