By Doug Porter
He doesn’t speak for anyone, UT-San Diego sports columnist Kevin Acee says, and he won’t be heard by anyone. Thus, his page-one-worthy column about the likely scenario for a new football stadium ended up on page D-4 in Sunday’s paper.
The story was actually posted on Friday afternoon online, and its significance becomes apparent when you realize that nearly 150 people had posted comments before the dead tree edition hit the streets.
The Chargers stadium scenario story is supposed to be nothing more than informed speculation, of course. Except that (I’d bet) it’s not. Call it a trial balloon, floated in the wake of a ‘preliminary’ meeting between team representatives and the mayor’s minions last Wednesday.
So here’s the deal:
…San Diego taxpayers will need to contribute something big in order for the San Diego Chargers to continue being the San Diego Chargers.
A new stadium here will likely cost more than $1 billion. The Chargers are prepared to pay $400 million of that – between the Spanos family, their investment partners and a $200 million loan from the NFL.
What we’re talking about here – as I understand the rough proposal, in its current, unofficial form — is the city providing the Chargers land (the current stadium and sports arena sites) that right now is not only under-utilized but a drain on the city’s finances. The Spanos family and their partners would develop that land, probably valued at about $250-$300 million, and the rest of the city’s contribution would come from sales, hotel and property taxes generated by that development.
No money from the General Fund. No bond issue. No tax increases.
Now that’s what I call spin; “No money from the general fund,” except for the taxes generated somewhere in the future. That “no money” must have something to do with a projected election, most likely in June 2016 to let “San Diegans decide [if] they want to cough up from the city’s coffers.”
The UT article points out that most recent stadium deals end up costing the locality involved more than half the final tab. Maybe 57%. We’re supposed to be good with that because all the other cool kids do it.
Except, as Don Bauder pointed out over at the Reader more than a year ago, that is a mighty optimistic estimate:
A new book by Harvard urban planning professor Judith Grant Long, Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities, shows that for the 121 venues in use during 2010, the public picked up 78 percent of the tab, not 65 percent. This means that if a new Chargers stadium costs $1 billion, which is likely, local taxpayers would plunk in almost $800 million — an outrageous sum.
In total, American taxpayers spent $10 billion more on those 121 facilities than they were told they would shell out by the media and the sports industry. Professor Long figures that hidden costs of land, infrastructure, and lost property taxes add 25 percent to the taxpayer bill. She subtracted money that comes back to cities and states from rent payments and other deal-related revenue.
“Build it and they will come” means we must accept the back-of-the-envelope assumptions being made, rather than empirical data that could forecast a taxpayer return on investment in regional revenues and jobs over the course of the next 20 years. Isn’t it odd that nobody’s mentioned the oil and gas flumes under the current stadium?
The only guarantee here is that taxpayers will end up stuck with the bill if revenues fall short or costs run high. You really don’t expect the Spanos family to actually take any risks, do you? The inherent secrecy of the NFL owner’s finances is something we’re supposed to respect.
It’s kind of like us being a bank and loaning money for homes without doing a credit check…
Oh, wait! That’s already been done. Only it’s unlikely the federal government will bail us out.
We’re also supposed to respect the valuation of the properties currently inhabited by the Sports Arena and Qualcomm ($250-$300 million) at about $25 a square foot. As one commenter on the UT site points out, smaller parcels in nearby Mission Gorge with older buildings on the are going for $80 a square foot.
The above property value comparison may be like apples and oranges–I don’t know–but I mention this just to point out we shouldn’t accept figures thrown at us. History shows there’s no reason to trust the developers and the politicians who’re putting together this deal.
There are lots of details yet to be released. Trust me, a stadium deal is forthcoming, just as soon as the language can be crafted to convince us that it’s in our best interests. We have no choice. All the other kids will laugh at San Diego if we don’t build a new stadium for the Chargers.
A Shrinking Future Market
Nowhere in this deal will the macro-economics of a professional sports franchise be considered. Tickets are going to be expensive. And the number of consumers that can afford those kinds of prices is shrinking, due to an aging population and the rampant inequality at the core of the current economy.
From a Sunday New York Times editorial:
Economic gains so far have mostly benefited those at the top of the income and wealth ladder. Worse, future growth is likely to be lopsided, because the foundation for broad prosperity is arguably the weakest it has been since World War II.
Take, for example, Americans age 25 to 34, the leading edge of the so-called millennials, the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s. They are worse off than Gen Xers (born from the mid-1960s to the late-1970s) were at that age and the baby boomers before them by nearly every economic measure — employment, income, student loan indebtedness, mobility, homeownership and other hallmarks of “household formation,” like moving out on their own, getting married and having children.
Assorted Right Wing Absurdities, Because…Freedom.
From Raw Story:
Fox News host Mike Huckabee on Saturday suggested to a group of conservatives that there was “more freedom in North Korea” than the United States had under President Barack Obama.
Speaking at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, Huckabee opined that “threats and affronts to our freedom today are so incredibly frightening.”
“Freedom of speech in this country, that for which the men grabbed their muskets off the mantel, did never mean that we’re to have fewer voices, but more voices,” the former Arkansas governor said at the event, which was sponsored by Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity and Citizens United.
“My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States,” he continued. “When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position while people put hands all over me. And I have to provide photo ID in a couple of different forms, and prove that I really am not going to terrorize the airplane.”
Congressman Duncan Hunter explains away the wage gap between men and women, via Bill Maher:
Clinton Shoe Thrower Explained
via Raw Story:
The woman arrested last Thursday after throwing a shoe at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported to be the same woman who disrupted the trial of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, claiming he was innocent and a victim of a New World Order conspiracy.
According to the National Journal, Alison Michelle Ernst, 36, was removed from a Colorado courtroom, in August 2012, during an appearance by Holmes claiming she had evidence that would prove his innocence.
UPDATE: Now various conserv pundits are claiming the shoe-throwing was a set up. Riiiight…And of course Rush Fatface is “telling radio listeners he “can totally relate” to those who believe that “everything the Clintons do is staged or choreographed.”
From Talking Points Memo:
Some conservative media figures are openly wondering if Hillary Clinton staged an incidentduring a speech in Las Vegas on Thursday in which a woman in the audience threw a shoe at her. The shoe appeared to miss the rumored 2016 presidential hopeful, who ducked and made light of it, while the reported thrower, Alison Michelle Ernst, was booked by the authorities.
A blog post published Monday at the website of Fox News commentator Bernard Goldberg speculated that Clinton probably “calculated it beforehand,” as is “almost always true” with things that happen to her.
“So it would not be stretching logic to suppose that Hillary arranged to have the shoe thrown at her,” wrote Arthur Louis at Goldberg’s site. “Remembering the Bush incident [when an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at President George W. Bush], she may have calculated that this would make her seem presidential. This would explain why Ms. Ernst was not pounded to a pulp by Hillary’s bodyguards, and why she seems on the verge of getting off scot free. Don’t be too surprised, the next time you visit Phoenix, if you see her sitting at a table in a downtown Hillary for President store front, stuffing and sealing envelopes.”
Last Gasp at UT-San Diego?
Any doubts you might have about UT-San Diego publisher Doug Manchester’s financial fatigue with dead-tree journalism should be cast aside now that the price for three pages of local news (Monday’s street edition) has gone from $1 to $1.50. And then there’s the faux business section with the headline “SDG&E a bright example of giving back to the community.”
Just So You Know…
Check Out the SDFreePress Daily Poem
In honor of National Poetry Month we will be publishing a poem of the day throughout April. I encourage you to take a few moments away from your daily routine to honor the efforts of those who seek to enrich our lives and raise our consciousness.
Some of San Diego’s shoeshine boys for the downtown set, a.k.a. serious journalists, seem to think that our decision to include poetry as a means of expression is cause for derision. We wish to express our sorrow at this loss of their humanity and urge you read a poem everyday so you won’t end up thinking that kissing ass is a worthwhile goal in life.
Check Out the SDFreePress Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1775 – The first abolitionist society in U.S. was organized in Philadelphia with Ben Franklin as president. 1865 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theater by John Wilkes Booth. He actually died early the next morning. 1984 – The Texas Board of Education began requiring that the state’s public school textbooks describe the evolution of human beings as “theory rather than fact”.
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John Lawrence says
Let me get this straight: The Chargers want the land that the current Charger stadium is on presumably to tear it down and build another stadium AND they want the sports arena which is in a completely different location in order to develop the property and profit from the development? They want a TWOFER? And I suppose there will be taxpayer guarantees involved if the “development” doesn’t work out as planned. What kind of a Rube Goldberg financial contraption are they coming up with? Why doesn’t the city develop their own damn land and profit from it itself?
Jay Powell says
Maybe you are on to something John. How about a radical alternative like… City sells the land under the stadium and the sports arena and their respective ridiculously huge parking lots for top market value with requirements that the new urban developments will provide a chunk of the City’s needed affordable housing (I think we still declare a housing emergency every few weeks) and uses the rest of the proceeds to pay down a major portion of the pension debt and provide a revolving loan fund for residents and businesses to retrofit their homes and offices with energy efficiency and solar to meet the need to cut down on green house gases. Of course there is going to be some adjustment in value for that plume under “Qualcomm”, unless the bunker bankers actually are forced to clean up the mess they made. As much as I still enjoy a good football game and think the forward pass is a wonder and thing of beauty, it is becoming clearer every year that the sport is literally killing and maiming players. We, the people, need to get out of the business of subsidizing that “game” and get real about building a new sustainable future.
And also because, what would you recommend building there? More office/commercial? Isn’t “Concrete Valley” crowded enough? More residential? Where will we get the water for the people who would live there?
The dreaded infrastructure MUST be upgraded before any thoughts can be given to such massive development.
Because, This Is San Diego.
That’s why not…