Voters Reject Corporate Welfare With Chargers Vote

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Nov 10, 2016 (San Diego) With the failure of Measures C and D, the city of San Diego has rejected the funding of a new stadium for the Chargers. This is extremely significant since this has been an ongoing business model for the National Football League and other professional sports. That is to have taxpayers partially or completely fund stadiums that mostly benefit team owners.

The reality is that new stadiums do not produce the gains promised by team owners. There is no increase in revenues. According to Neil DeMause, writing in Field of Schemes blog:

You see the problem here? Every NFL team is doing dramatically better the last couple of years, thanks largely to the league’s lucrative new TV deals. Forbes doesn’t break down stadium revenue vs. overall revenue, unfortunately, but it’s clear that even if the Dolphins are seeing an 11% jump in venue revenue, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to those annual TV checks.

None of which is to say that Ross shouldn’t have done the renovations, or that they’re not nicer for fans, or even that we should care one way or the other what Ross does with his own money, and the NFL’s. (Well, we can still care about whether the renovations are nicer for fans.) But this is another data point in favor of “new or renovated stadiums have a more modest impact on fan spending than you might think,” which is a lesson that everyone needs to remember when talk starts up of a team owner’s “need” for a new stadium.

 

The discussions about the benefits to cities large and small usually tend to favor expansions with greatly padded numbers. There is also the threat that a team will leave. The Chargers used those tactics, as we all know,. After all, they went to far as to prepare to move to Carson, which the league objected to.

The Raiders are expected to move, likely to Las Vegas, while the Chargers still have the option to move up to Los Angeles and share a stadium with the Los Angeles Rams, formerly of San Louis. Did we mention the Rams moved out of San Louis before the stadium was paid off? Or that the Chargers want this new stadium before the upgrades approved in the early 2000 by the voters are paid off?

This is a message to the league. The eight largest city in the United States just rejected a deal that would have dedicated municipal funds to a stadium and not roads, schools, fire stations and libraries. It is a powerful message, that we hope is repeated across professional sports. If the team owners want a new stadium, we have a suggestion. The team owners pay for it, full cost. There is one exception to this. The Green Bay Packers. but they are owned by the city, so they are a city asset.



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  1. The Chargers and San Diego City Council – Reporting San Diego
  2. 2016 a Strange Year in Politics is now Over; The Nation and San Diego – Reporting San Diego

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