Public funding for sports stadiums is one of the more difficult concepts to defend as being good policy. According to most reputable economists, it's never smart for taxpayers to foot bills for billionaires and their private stadiums. Defending the practice as being good politics, however, is a little more cut and dry. And now, with San Diego's mayor now apparently on the same page as Chargers ownership regarding the construction of a new NFL stadium in the city, it's up to voters to decide if they're willing to help pay for it.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer has reached an agreement with the Chargers and endorsed their stadium measure, which will appear on the November 8th ballot, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday. The mayor and the team have not always seen eye to eye on the question of financing of a new home field to replace Qualcomm Stadium, and for yearsthe Chargers have seemed to be on the verge of leaving San Diego, where they've played since 1961. They have an option to join the Rams in Los Angeles next year if they can't reach a deal.
The Chargers' ballot measure, called Measure C, would raise hotel taxes in the city to fund construction of a stadium and convention center in downtown San Diego. To get Faulconer's blessing, the team had to agree to eight different "financial safeguards and other concessions," according to the Union-Tribune, including guarantees that they will cover the difference in construction or land costs if they exceed current estimates, and that the city's general fund will not be tapped for the project.
"This was not my plan, but I saw an opportunity to make it better," Faulconer said. "It's no secret that I had concerns and it's also no secret that I thought it was important to get financial protections. These safeguards obviously strengthen this measure and strengthen things moving forward in the future."
Sounds like a great deal! Everyone in San Diego loves the Chargers! But do San Diegans love the Chargers to the tune of $1.15 billion? Because that's how much the city would be on the hook for if Measure C passes. And how much will the Chargers be on the hook for? $650 million, which includes $300 million from the NFL, and $350 million of their own money generated by "licensing payments" and "sales of 'stadium-builder' ticket options to fans," among other private sources (according to the Union-Tribune, the new concessions might mean the team shoulders some more of the cost).
Even if the ballot measure fails, the U-T posits that the bridges built by Faulconer and Chargers ownership will lead to some sort of local public funding for a new NFL stadium. Because who doesn't love (financing) football?