Dean Spanos is trying to pull off a cheap trick for his hail Mary to keep the Chargers in San Diego. Below, the three major ways the billionaire is trying to bamboozle everyone in the whale’s vagina.
Written by Kyle Magin
Giving a billionaire hundreds of millions of dollars to build a professional sports stadium is like introducing Ryan Gosling to a girl at a bar.
You don’t need to help a billionaire pay for anything.
Yet, again and again around the world, and especially in the U.S., municipalities hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to billionaires to build pro sports stadiums that most directly benefit those billionaires. Study after study shows the benefit to taxpayers is negligible or even negative.
That’s why human representation of the Paiute coyote trickster god, San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos, is trying a little sleight of hand to get America’s Most Beautiful City’s taxpayers to hand him $550 billion to buy land, build a new convention center on it, and, oh yeah, also a new stadium for his team. The proposed $1.5 billion complex’s price tag includes the land ($200 million from the taxpayers), the convention center ($600 million from taxpayers) and the football stadium ($350 million from taxpayers and $350 million from Spanos, plus $300 million from the NFL in the form of a loan and a grant.)
Spanos’s cute way of getting taxpayers to cough up most of the cash is to correctly point out that they need a new convention center, attach his modernistic herpes sore of a football stadium to that venture, and source the funding from a four percent increase in the city’s hotel tax. That way, Spanos can say he’s getting visitors to pay for his new stadium and not his neighbors, who should be really happy to tell to him fuck off if this thing falls through.
Below three more very good reasons San Diego shouldn’t be fooled into putting a giant desk drawer-looking thing that gets used for a total of 26 hours/year
on near their waterfront:
1) This is still a tax increase on San Diegans.
San Diego’s tourism industry employs one in every eight city residents. It generates $18.3 billion in economic impact for the city, and $192 million annually for the city in hotel tax revenue (the transient occupancy tax, or TOT, which sounds like a good way to grift drifters). When you tax that industry to build a stadium that will be used 10 times a year for its main purpose, you’re robbing money that would otherwise go to paying for cops, firefighters, teachers and parks departments. Saying that out-of-towners will pick up the tab on the stadium willfully ignores how basic economics works in a tourist town.
2) San Diego’s new convention center will be cheaper without a football stadium.
There is exactly one thing that San Diego needs in Spanos’s proposal: a new convention center. Events like Comic-con–admittedly the biggest, but the city hosts hundreds of conventions annually–are agitating for a new, waterfront convention center that can handle bigger crowds. Adding a giant-ass football stadium pulls that convention center further inland in service of, again, ten dates as opposed to the 120ish the convention center draws presently–presumably that number would rise with more elbow room.
Adding the corresponding tax increase for an extra $350 million to drop on a stadium robs Peter to pay Paul. Tourists won’t pay ever-increasing hotel taxes just to hang out in San Diego. Watch them flock out of the city to North County or Orange County or any number of desert, Atlantic and Gulf coast towns that can roughly approximate San Diego’s weather without its potential 17-plus percent hotel tax rate. If they do come, that extra four percent will be vacuumed out of the wallets of waiters and bartenders, t-shirt shops and boat tour operators. Visitors won’t magically have more money to spend.
3) Spanos’s proposal contains a ton of fat–add what you need and cut the rest.
The proposal will come to a public vote that will either need a 2/3rds majority this November or 50 percent plus one, depending on how successful Spanos’s army of lawyers can be. San Diegans should vote it down with extreme prejudice and demand a more sensible convention center-only deal. As a general rule, get yours and don’t help rich dudes get richer.