San Diego’s stadium saga has inspired lots of new questions about sports economics and the current status of Qualcomm Stadium – on top of many of the same ones we’ve been hearing for years.
I decided to make life easy for you and quickly answer some of the most common questions about the Chargers and their years-long push for a new stadium in one post.
The Money Questions
Why don’t the Chargers get a bunch of private investors to pay for a new stadium?
Stadiums aren’t cash cows. They cost more to build and maintain than they bring in.
Stanford University economist Roger Noll put it this way in 2004 in comments to Minnesota Public Radio:
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So, @Lisa, Nick Canepa has written about a big amount of fill dirt that would have to be brought to the Qualcomm site to build a new stadium there. What's the deal with that? It's the first time I've heard of it. if it's just for floodplain management, I think they could engineer a work-around. Thanks,
@Lisa - One thing I did notice is that you didn't mention the contributions the Chargers and team make and bring to the community. Charities, individual player and team contributions that benefit those in the county.
To make a long story short, San Diego is stuck with the Chargers.
A move to Carson makes zero financial sense therefore the choices for San Diego are:
a. keep the Chargers kicking and screaming while playing at the Q as is. They have no other choice.
b. be generous and give something to the team (to be decided if such will be more than a standard renovation) .
All told, there is not much of a saga. The key is to recognize that SD has all the aces in this negotiation.
San Diego has to make choices. Repair our infrastructure - roads, bridges, parks, libraries and rec centers? Conserve our limited water supply? Support our biotech industry providing hope to people suffering from devastating illnesses while providing good jobs for San Diego residents? Or help finance a football stadium that will make money for the owners of a team in a sport where people are entertained by watching players get hit repeatedly causing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) leading to progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.
Why are we even having this discussion?
Because you don't get it. There are things we pay for (public facilities, etc.) that I'm sure you enjoy doing but I don't. Why should I pay for your enjoyment while mine is cut off? We all have our passions and favorite pastimes. Nobody thinks about that. How would you like Balboa Park or whatever it is you frequent to be eliminated, etc. due to no one else wanting to contribute? It's not just about the money.
Fair enough, I don't enjoy football. But unlike parks, libraries and infrastructure, football is a business. Football is not about providing a public good, it's about making money. I don't think the public should pay for a stadium so that Spanos and the NFL can make money using it.
Football teams don't want to own and operate stadiums because it isn't profitable - but they need football stadiums to be profitable. By this logic, why aren't cities being asked to pay players' salaries?
@Sam Ward Cities would be more than glad to pay player salaries provided that they could get the national TV share of the NFL team as a city revenue.
The NFL con game works like this: NFL pays its own actors and you the City provide the theater for the entertainment. I think the model has been intact since the Roman times whereby various slave owners would provide the gladiators and the host city would provide the arena.
It's doubtful that the slave owners of Roman times training the gladiators had a monopoly formed among them but the NFL has decided to introduce such groundbreaking innovation.
Good summary Lisa. Two things jumped out at me:
1. “...they’ve also worked to build more of a fan base in L A ”
Well, there you have it. These cretins seem to think they’ve got all the fans they can garner in San Diego county. Their modest success north of here instead of focusing on San Diego and Imperial counties plus Mexico puts them in jeopardy if a team moves to L.A. because they must know their L.A. supporters will quickly abandon the Chargers in favor of ANYONE who relocates there.
2. “So, basically, go ahead and subsidize an NFL stadium if the Chargers give you the warm fuzzies.....”
Again, there you have it. The numbers will NEVER pencil out for a major taxpayer subsidy for a 10 game a year sports team, but if you must have them, vote your heart (If you are given the chance to vote).