Why should public money be used to fund a private business?
I could understand if the government was providing tax subsidies or low interest loans for things that provide a long-term good. “Things” that come to mind include funding for scientific research that could later be used for biomedical devices or pills, missiles and weapons to support our military, infrastructure like better roads and bridges, loans to risky borrowers, e.g. students, or even to attract a manufacturer, e.g. the Tesla Gigafactory. All of these things have a chance to earn future benefits to a city, state, or even the country. Future benefits include jobs, income and property taxes for future workers and employers, things too expensive for private funding to support like scientific research, and a more efficient way to get around town. Even conservative-leaning Forbes magazines argues that publicly-financed stadiums are bad for the city.
Thus, I’m confused as to why the City of San Diego (CoSD) should be responsible for providing funding to the Chargers, a NFL team, owned by a billionaire, for a new stadium. Essentially, the owners want the CoSD to source $1.5 billion in funding. So far, the CoSD is willing to provide up to $400 million through bonds. The Chargers are essentially threatening to leave if the CoSD cannot figure out how to cover the $1.1 billion shortfall. The CoSD’s annual budget is $2.75 billion (vs. $70+ billion for New York City). It’s not like the eighth largest American city can afford it.
First of all, the Spanos family who owns the team already has a stadium. Sure, it’s almost 50 years old (built in 1967) but it does what it’s meant to do: provide a place for Chargers fans to watch games. Of course, the motive for a new stadium is to provide the Spanos family with increased channels for generating revenues, e.g. luxury boxes for corporations. Unfortunately, for the CoSD greater revenues from luxury boxes doesn’t go to the City but to the owners. I’ve been to a luxury box at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It’s very nice but I don’t expect other people to pay for my enjoyment.
One could argue that the owners should somehow figure out how to make the Chargers a consistent contender for Super Bowl rings; then they could charge more for season tickets and more people would attend games. Hmmm… Maybe that’s too hard.
Last year I went to a Chargers game. It’s not like it’s inexpensive to begin with. Parking starts at $25 and goes up to $75. I bought “bad tickets” that cost around $80. (I took a trolley from Fashion Valley.) Thus, a trip for a family of four is looking at $400 + expensive concessions for a single game. (I know most people get season tickets but it’s still going to cost.)
Second, the only people who are Chargers fans are native San Diegans. Anecdotally, a good friend said he had a hard time finding other Chargers fans to attend games because he couldn’t find anyone die-hard enough. Most of the new people who have moved to SD are loyal Seahawks, Browns, 49ers, etc. fans. If they go to Chargers games it’s to support their teams. In relationship parlance, that person would be a cuckhold – “males who are unwittingly investing parental effort in offspring that are not genetically their own.”
Third, let Los Angeles have the Chargers. Let them have all the traffic that goes with NFL games. Maybe they forgot that eight Sundays a year, traffic will be even slower than usual on the 405, 110, and 710. Sure, there are plenty of people who live near the City of Carson, the proposed location for a new stadium, who will benefit. They won’t mind the additional traffic because of all that additional revenue they will get. (Ha!) I can imagine out of town fans staying at hotels in Compton, Long Beach, Hawthorne, Lakewood, or Gardena. They can even go to Ikea for a little shopping.
Good luck Spanos family in Los Angeles. You gotta be realistic: fiscally conservative San Diegans are not going to pay for a stadium. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.