It’s the most common rallying cry against a new Chargers stadium: San Diego taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize a football team.
And yet, they already do. Last year, the city spent a whopping $12 million to operate the Chargers’ current home at Qualcomm Stadium. It’s a tale of shoddy contract negotiations, lawsuits and the city’s inability to attract many high-paying events to the stadium other than the Chargers.
This is how it all happens. Let’s start with the Chargers.
The team is supposed to pay the city $3 million a year in rent. But the team’s lease with the city allows it to count parking revenues, a percentage of beer, popcorn and other concessions and the city’s suite at Qualcomm all against its rent. Factor in a settlement to a lawsuit over disabled access at the stadium, which requires the city to pay the team roughly $1.3 million a year, and the city actually owes the Chargers money at the end of every season. Last year, the city ended up paying the Chargers $800,000.