Build a stadium and Chargers will stay? Nope.

The lengths NFL teams go to

Edward Jones domed stadium in St. Louis
  • Edward Jones domed stadium in St. Louis

Downtown potentates want taxpayers to provide a massive subsidy for a new Chargers stadium. If it ever happens (here’s hoping it doesn’t), the team and whatever governments are involved will draw up a contract. If this one is like many others, it will state that the Chargers promise to stay X number of years if the stadium remains up to or above National Football League standards, or verbiage to that effect.

The bottom line is that the contract will be so nebulous that the team will actually not be making any promises to stay. Generally, a pro team having “a stadium built by a community has a clause that the facility must meet or exceed the standard of other stadiums in the [National Football League] or [Major League Baseball],” says Philip Porter, professor of economics at the University of South Florida. “But only in Lake Wobegon is every stadium above average.”

Ergo, at any time during the period it pledged to stay, the team can enforce the murky clause and demand a new or upgraded facility, although there is usually a practical limit on how soon the team can leave. Should it face objections from taxpayers, the team can and usually will threaten to move. Examples abound, including in San Diego, where the Chargers promised to stay at the stadium now named Qualcomm until 2020 but soon after occupying the refurbished facility were claiming it didn’t meet contract requirements and had to be replaced with a new version. More on that below.

Contracts between governments and sports teams invariably have similar deceitful details, and the teams are the winners. It’s not just that governments are snookered by team lawyers; local politicians, responding to the smell of money and the fear of fan zealotry, want taxpayers to lose and teams to win. “Why do public officials do this?” asks Roger Noll, economics professor emeritus at Stanford who has written extensively on the futility of pro sports subsidies. “A mayor asks, ‘Do I have to be the mayor who got the city in financial trouble or be the mayor who lost the team?’” Voters tolerate massive deficits but not teams moving.

A classic example is St. Louis. It lost a team after the 1987 season. The City, anxious to get an expansion franchise or woo a team from another location, began building a domed stadium in 1993 that was 96 percent funded by taxpayers. The Los Angeles Rams, futilely trying to wangle a new Southern California stadium, moved to St. Louis after the 1994 season.

The Rams suggested a contract inclusion: the facility would have to be “first tier” — in the top 25 percent of league stadiums — or the team could move in 2005 or 2015. City fathers were so hungry to land a team that they overlooked this devastating hooker. After some improvements, the Rams waived a move in 2005. The lease “doesn’t offer much clarity on what constitutes first tier,” says stltoday.com. It could be argued that “just about every inch” of the domed stadium could have to be first tier. One professor of sports economics says it will take $200 million to $300 million to put the stadium in the top 25 percent.

It’s little wonder that the St. Louis Rams are one of the prime candidates, along with the Chargers, to relocate to Los Angeles if a stadium is ever built there — no sure thing.

Cities that capitulated to team demands for a “first tier” or “league standard” clause didn’t contemplate the major changes taking place in stadiums, says Noll. Now there are huge screens following the action, fancy restaurants, play areas for children. “Profits come from things happening inside the stadium other than the game,” says Noll. “So everything built before the year 2000 is obsolete.”

Says Porter, “The life cycle of stadiums is now ten years, even though their economic lives are about 30 years.”

In 1995, the Chargers and San Diego drew up a contract for converting the then–Jack Murphy Stadium (now Qualcomm Stadium) to a “state of the art” football-only stadium. Former councilmember Bruce Henderson, a contracts lawyer, noticed many flaws, including clauses that gave the team a chance to get out of town if the stadium was not kept competitive with other National Football League facilities. In a very short time, Chargers owner Alex Spanos and his executives were declaring that the stadium “was not even close to state of the art; it didn’t provide proper fan experience; locker rooms were something out of the dark ages; the press facilities a major embarrassment; the corporate boxes couldn’t be sold because they were antiquated,” recalls Henderson.

But the Chargers had known all about the stadium before they agreed to the deal, had hired the architects and overseen construction. In the years since, the team has been angling for a taxpayer-financed new facility.

The state-of-the-art clause, when combined with other features such as the 60,000-seat guarantee, meant that the contract “was an agreement designed to blow up to the Chargers’ advantage.… It was a road map out of town. If certain financial criteria were not met, the Chargers could give notice they were leaving. But [reliably verifiable] numbers were not available to the City.”

Miami Marlins’ new stadium

Miami Marlins’ new stadium

Ah, sports financial numbers. Leagues conceal them. The Miami Marlins baseball team (formerly Florida Marlins) just got a new ballpark 80 percent financed by taxpayers. Government leaders didn’t even ask the team to open its books. The Marlins had cried poverty; two years ago, a sports website revealed that the team was actually healthy, thanks to generous league revenue sharing. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the Marlins deal, particularly to see if bond buyers got accurate information.

It’s too bad the agency didn’t look into the Chargers football stadium and Petco Park bonds; it found false statements in other kinds of San Diego bonds but overlooked the pro sports financing finagling, for a reason an agency official wouldn’t share with me.

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Typical naysayer WHINE! I get it, lets keep SD in the stoneage/second rate town with no development of ANYTHING downtown...say, hows PETCO and the Gaslamp working out for yah buddy? too bad we didnt listen to your ilk about those projects, and we wont listen to you now either.

Yes, how is Petco working out? Ever look at Padres attendance? One reason it's so low is the lousy location for logistics purposes, along with high prices. Ever assess the occupancy rate of those condos that got built in the ballpark district? (Answer: extremely low.) Have you read the mayor's latest budget indicating that Petco is costing the City $15 million a year when it was fraudulently touted as revenue-neutral in 1998? Glad you mentioned Stone Age. That's exactly what San Diego neighborhoods resemble, because all the money has been pouring downtown for corporate welfare projects and little has been going into the infrastructure or to the neighborhoods. "No development of anything downtown?" You have to be kidding. That's where almost ALL the development has been. Best, Don Bauder

oh..speaking of the Padres attendance, you clearly have your facts wrong (as usual):

Forbes (1/2011) The most profitable team was the Padres, which had an operating income of $37 million in 2010. The team’s attendance surged by 200,000 at Petco Park as the Padres finished just two games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. The Padres managed to post a 90-72 record despite a payroll of just $38 million, which was the lowest in baseball. The Padres also benefited from a revenue-sharing check of more than $30 million.

again, nobody should listen to you...ever.

Sorry. You are wrong. Check Padres attendance for the last several years at Petco. It is lower than it was the last several years at Qualcomm. Attendance surged the first few years at Petco then dropped below the Qualcomm average. That's how the scam works: the team gets its fat subsidy, gets a new facility, raises prices and attracts fans initially because of the novelty effect. Then the novelty wears off and prices have to come down -- one reason the Padres have been lowering prices the last several years. Best, Don Bauder

Could this be the initial salvo of the much-anticipated Lynch mob?. I see michael27 coincidentally registered just today, although the verbiage in the posts indicate that he/she is an avid follower.

Oh yes, Michael27 must be a big sports fan. But that's OK. We welcome all comments, negative and positive. I always figure that if at least 20% of the commenters don't call me a no good s.o.b., I am preaching to the choir. Best, Don Bauder

The tip-off for me is when a poster employs the phrase (you and...) "your ilk", as contained in the initial post in this thread. Them's fightin' words!

Ilk rhymes with bilk. Best, Don Bauder

Hey Michael, did you miss that little footnote disclaimer that these figures were EBITDA? It's not at all hard to blieve that the Padres organization may have paid $10-$15 just in interest alone. The for good measure, throw in all f the other expenses. And befor you even do any of that, you have to ak yourself how they got the financial numbers for the 30 private businesses that make up MLB. Oh and btw, despite the 212k increase, the Padres actually FELL in attendance ranking from 20th to 23rd. You also fail to menton that with 11 games to go, the Padres actually LED the Giants by 1/2 game only to go 5-6 down the stretch. I'm sure losing 3 of 4 at home in Petco to the Cubs, who were something like 15 games under .500 did wonders forattendance.

Even that year, when the Padres weren't eliminated from the playoffs until the last day of the season, attendance was poor. The team's success is not the only factor in failing to put fannies in seats. There are also the high prices and the inconvenience of getting to Petco. Best, Don Bauder

The Padres average announced attendance per game is last in the National League, Michael. That has absolutely nothing to do with Petco Park, but I simply point out the fact. I believe there are six American League teams that lag behind the Padres. Seattle, Kansas City, Oakland, Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland. This data is current as of 5/2/12.

If the Padres get an owner with deep pockets, then I believe this will change. But this year - because of the product on the field, not the park - attendance is not good.

I think this year's poor attendance does have something to do with Petco Park itself. Getting there is a hassle, particularly compared with Qualcomm, and prices, despite recent cuts, remain high. Best, Don Bauder

Don Bauder, with all due respect, I think the fact that you live in Colorado disqualifies your opinion as to why people are or are not attending a sporting event in San Diego. I happen to agree with refriedgringo and I'll give you 2 examples of why. First I'll use ourselves. As Dodger fans, we would normally have come down for the season opening series. The fact we didn't is due strictly to the fact that, to put it bluntly, the team sucks and quite frankly, we were mildly shocked the the Dodgers lost a game. It had absolutely nothing to due with Petco. Secondly, perhaps a more relevant example. Counting in-laws, their kids and their kids kids, an aunt and her kids(my cousins) and their families(spouse, their kids and their kids kids, we have close to 50 relatives in San Diego. When you add in spouses families, it's probably closer to 100. And I can tell you that of the ones we've talked to, not a single one has said they've stayed away because Petco is a pain in the ass to get in and out of. It's because of how bad the team is at this point. Here's the perfect example. My wife's sister and her family went to opening weekend, because it was opening weekend and it was the Dodgers. The only other games they've gone to were 2 against the Phils and1 against the Giants, all because of who the opposing pitchers were. Petco's a pretty nice place to watch a ballgame, especially on a nice spring or summer evening in San Diego, although not as nice as Dodger Stadium. But they just don't want to waste the money going to see a team that, for the most part, is playing very poorly.

So Tom, you say you neither come because of Petco (an assertion I agree with and I am fairly certain Don would, as well) nor that you would stay away because of Petco.

If you were otherwise inclined to go to a Dodgers/Padres game (or any other Padres game), it sounds like you'd go whether it was at Qualcomm or Petco, thus supporting the larger argument that Petco was a waste of money.

Perhaps you should try reading Don Bauder's post and my reply again. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Petco was a waste of money. Don's comment was that this year's poor attendance at Petco was due to the hassle of getting to and from a dowmtown ballpark and the continued high prices. And as I said in my reply, it has nothing to do with the park and everything to due with the poor play of the team. How much a stadium cost and where it is located has never played a factor in whether or not we attended a game, either at Petco or the Murph.L et me put it a tad bit more succinctly for you. I don't care how much it cost to build Petco, how much it costs the city to operate it per year, or for that matter how much John Moore's profited from the whole thing because I don't live there. I literally have no opinion either way on whether or not it was worth it, in terms of cost. Further, as much as I enjoyed attending games at the Murph and as many good memories as I have of the place, if the team the Padres are currently fieding played there, I would bother going there either. It's all about the team, and nothing about the stadium, Petco or otherwise.

Whether they were in response to your main points or not (and it was clear even as I responded that they were not), mine were reasonably conclusions drawn from your post. You reiterate support for my conclusions in your 3:33 PM post, namely that the stadium the Padres play in has no bearing on your decision to attend a game.

Your statement was that my comment was supporting the larger argument that Petco was a waste of money. I don't see how not wanting to go see a team that sucks, regardless of where they play, has any bearing on whether or not building Petco was a waste of money. Now, if what you're saying is that if everyone knew the Padres were gonna suck so bad, that it would have been cheaper just to tell them to stay at the Murph and if they didn't like that, they could go play someplace else, then I agree. But again, my comments were strictly to the point that I disagree with Don Bauder's assertion that poor attendance is tied to the inconvenience of getting to Petco and the expense of attending a game. If you want to interpret that as support for what ever point(s) you are trying to make, have at it.

The team's performance certainly has a relationship with fan support.(Cities like Chicago, which supports the Cubs no matter how bad they are, are an exception. My oldest son says that if a Cubs general manager ever produced a team that went to the World Series, he should be fired. Why produce a good team when attendance, TV, related product sales zoom win or lose?) To sum up, a winning team attracts attendance (except for the Padres two years ago when they lost out on the playoffs the last day of the season) but logisitcs also makes a difference. Petco is just not accessible for too many would-be fans, abd prices are still too high, despite recent cuts. Qualcomm, on the other hand, is ideally located. Best, Don Bauder

Exactly, Conan. First, pro sports does not attract tourists significantly with some exceptions. One of those exceptions is San Diego: LA residents come down to watch the Padres play in SD. But they did that at Qualcomm, too, and would do it at Qualcomm even if Petco had never been built. Best, Don Bauder

Which is exactly the assertion I say Tom's posts supported, even though that assertion was not his point.

You've said it before (perhaps using these words, perhaps not): Petco was a bit of a boondoggle.

@Tom, you seem to be taking personally my replies to you regarding my conclusions from your posts. If true, I can only wonder why.

I don't take anything anyone says here personally whether they are agreeing or disagreeing with my comments. It's just the internet I'm simply confused as to how you equate people not coming to Petco this season because the team sucks with your opinion that building Petco was a waste of money. Does that mean you feel if the Padres were setting MLB attendance records, then it wouldn't be a waste? From my point of view either building Petco was a waste or it wasn't and how many people show up, on how many not so much, in this case, has no bearing. BTW, It's the NFL, the requirement is that the principal owner must hold a 30% interest, there is a limit of 30 total partners and there must be an agreement in place giving the principal owner total voting control. And despite how you think revenues SHOULD be shared, they are what they are and the only way they can be changed is if the people who voted on them in the first place voted to change them. Don't see that happening. The NFL is what it is and it ain't changing anytime soon.

"I'm simply confused as to how you equate people not coming to Petco this season because the team sucks with your opinion that building Petco was a waste of money"

It was your previous implication that your attendance at Padres games has nothing to do the stadium they play in. I'm sure you are not alone in that sentiment. If the Padres were setting attendance records, Petco would still be a waste, because it would still be true that people (you, for example) would make their decision to see the Padres for reasons other than their stadium.

Re: NFL team ownership and revenue sharing rules, you and I are evidently discussing them at cross purposes. I am approaching the topics from a philosophical standpoint, and you seem to want to focus on what the rules actually are.

"If the Padres were setting attendance records, Petco would still be a waste, because it would still be true that people (you, for example) would make their decision to see the Padres for reasons other than their stadium." I'm sorry, but that has to absolutely be one of the silliest things I've ever read. My first pro football games was a Rams game in 1956 and my first pro baseball game was a Dodgers game in 1959, both in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In my entire life, I've nevergone to see a game because of the stadium, or arena or what ever name you care to use for the venue. It has ALWAYS been because of one team or the other, if not both. And I don't know any else who has chosen to attend a sporting event based on the venue rather than the team. As for those pesky old NFL team ownership and revenue sharing rules, what you are talking about is what YOU would have them as or what YOU think they should be(fantasy), and I'm saying what they actually ARE and will in all likelihood remain(reality).

You say my comment was silly, then support it with the following statement: "In my entire life, I've nevergone [sic] to see a game because of the stadium, or arena or what ever name you care to use for the venue. It has ALWAYS been because of one team or the other, if not both."

It's as if I said "That car is blue." And then you said "No, it's not. It's blue."

And regarding NFL ownership/revenue sharing rules, if you are do not wish to discuss them philosophically, I certainly can't make you do so.

New stadia always attract big crowds in the first few years. It's the novelty effect. After a few seasons, that effect goes away. Best, Don Bauder

Petco was more than a bit of a boondoggle. It was and is a boondoggle. The British say a philanderer is "a bit of a rotter" and a wife who strays is "a bit of a rover." But in most cases, I suspect, the "bit of" is a euphemism. Best, Don Bauder

I used "bit of" mostly because I did not want to mischaracterize your position. It's a tricky business telling others what one thinks yet another person believes.

I lived in San Diego for 30 years, covering the economy as a journalist. I have multiple sources. I know where bodies are buried. What I say about the inconvenience of Petco is what San Diegans are telling me. I am in constant contact with them. Best, Don Bauder

It's nice that you I have multiple sources and know where bodies are buried. I say bloody good for you!!! Apart from speaking from my own personal experiences, I too have my sources that I am in constant contact with. And they all say that if the Padres were putting a team on the field that at least had a chance to win, they would attend more. My wife's sister and her husband had season tickets for a long time, probably more than 25 yrs. They didn't renew them last year because of how bad the team was and how little ownership seems to care about putting a good product out on the field. That's pretty much the consensus of everyone I know who has stopped going.

The once-again majority owner, John Moores, lives in Texas. Did you see my blog post about "Jimmy" Nederlander, the wealthy Broadway patriarch, wanting to purchase the Padres right before the Moorad deal was announced? The show biz Nederlander family has big bucks. But Moores did not respond to three letters. Best, Don Bauder

I'm not quite sure what any of that has to do with why people aren't coming to Petco this season.

Tom, I think the Nederlander story has a lot to do with the absence of attendance. The Nederlander family has money. My guess is that had that family bought the team, the payroll wouldn't be among the lowest in baseball, and the team one of the worst. I agree with you that the quality of the team has much to do with attendance. But I also believe that the Petco logistics and prices are driving people away, too. Best, Don Bauder

Don--Ironically, it's easier to get to Petco Park now than it ever has been. The team is so bad...there is usually plenty of parking available. Of course, that happens when your team has a dwindling season ticket base, and the team is on pace to lose more than 100 games. Now, about those costs; the Padres need to get rid of "dynamic" pricing, and post ticket prices that don't elevate as the date gets closer to the game you want to go to. That might encourage walk-up ticket sales. Of course, winning would also help ticket sales, but apparently, that's not important right now.

With all due respect, Petco is much more convenient to visit than was Qualcomm. I live in Baja, I've driven to both sites and taken public transportation to both sites, and the location of Petco Park is much more accessible. You can WANT Qualcomm to be a better option for whatever reason you wish, but it simply isn't. I completely understand the financial issues behind the stadium deals and why many are opposed, I get that part. But I fail to see how tossing Petco's location into the mix is somehow a contributing factor toward attendance or a lack of it. If this season's Padres played in Qualcomm it wouldn't make any difference because it isn't very entertaining watching a team that isn't winning and isn't expected to win.

I talk with San Diego residents daily about why they attend or why they don't attend, and their answers are either attending because they are Padres fans regardless or not attending because of the poor quality of the product on the field.

Location has never been mentioned once. Honestly.

refriedgringo, If I recall correctly you grew up in L.A. or at least lived here for a long time. I think you will understand and agree with this scenario. Most Dodger game begin at 7:10. When we go we like to get there in time to get parked, get inside, get our first round of whatever refreshments we want and get to our seats 20-30 minutes before the game starts. Acoording to our GPS, we live just under 13 miles nw of Dodger stadium. On most weekdays, it takes a minimum 45 minutes to get there and into the parking lot. That means to get seated by 6:45ish, we need to leave no later than 5:45, usually closer to 5:30. And on a Friday game day, well, I'm sure you remember what the Hollywood Freeway is like on a Friday, any time, any direction. I'm curious as to on average how long it takes you to come up from your house in Mexico for a weeknight game. I sent a group email to all of my relatives a short while ago asking them if they have attended less games so far and if so was it due to the prices, the hassle of getting into Petco or because of how poorly the Padres are playing thus far. I can pretty much guarantee I will here back from everyone by tomorrow, so I'll see how my data correlate with yours.

We will look forward to hearing from your family members, Tom.

I've never been to a game at Petco, but I found it much more convenient to get to Qualcomm than to the area surrounding Petco. So all your post and mine are evidence of is what our personal experiences and preferences are.

This statement of yours, however, is spot on: "If this season's Padres played in Qualcomm it wouldn't make any difference because it isn't very entertaining watching a team that isn't winning and isn't expected to win."

There is definitely a correlation between a team's on-field success and attendance -- also TV viewing. Best, Don Bauder

Don asked how Petco was working out, not how the Padres' bottom line was working out.

The Padres may be doing well on the bottom line. Expenses are very low. The payroll is one of the lowest in baseball. Best, Don Bauder

lol...their attendance "surged" to around 2.1 million from 1.9 mil the year before, which was still 900,000 below their attendance in 2004. Also, the attendance figure for 2010 was the 3rd lowest attendance in the history of Petco Park (at least until after this season, where they are on pace for their lowest attendance EVER downtown). And just what did the team do with that $37 mil?

Yes, attendance this year could be a disaster. There is a controversy about bringing in the fences. But my guess is that visiting teams then would hit far more home runs. Best, Don Bauder

Petco has worked out phenomenally. It reinvented the once blighted warehouse district. The area is thriving when once it was dead. I don't think a football stadium (with 8 home games) would have the same impact as baseball stadium. But, is silly to say Petco has been anything but a phenomenal success. I tried looking on-line, but couldn't find anything the mayor said about the stadium costing the city $15 million a year, but if it is just in the budget then it is likely that it is costing that much to run per year. But, it is making the city far far more than that. (PS: The Padres are probably the worst team in baseball, yet their attendance is fine. They were actually decent when they were at Qualcomm and went to a World Series - now a AAA team could beat them. Also, in case you've been under a rock, the entire real estate system is crushed - not just downtown San Diego, but everywhere).

Does San Diego need a new football stadium? Personally, I say no. There are not many Chargers fans in this town (as evidenced by the blackouts) and the team should move to a better locale where they can develop a stronger fan base. Second, the college bowl games may be fading away in the near future and at present San Diego does not host any marquee bowl games . There are only a few limited events that would use the stadium, so it probably doesn't make sense to build one and instead let the Chargers go. (Obviously, you can't both keep the Chargers and keep Qualcomm stadium).

The area around "Petco" (AKA San Diego Municipal Baseball Stadium) is thriving??? What are you smoking?

Absolutely, go down there some weekend. Most of the top restaurants and clubs in all of San Diego are located within a few blocks of Petco.

You seem to be talking about the Gaslamp Quarter. Generally, when downtown boosters talk of supposedly successful redevelopment projects, they talk of Petco, Horton Plaza, Liberty Station, and the Gaslamp. Only the Gaslamp is successful. Petco is a drain on an ailing city; Horton Plaza is NOT a successful shopping center -- part of it is being torn down (at City expense); Liberty Station should have been made into a park for the citizens of San Diego. It is only successful as a huge money maker for McMillin, which got the land for almost nothing. Best, Don Bauder

The highly-touted real estate development around Petco, on which John Moores raked in so much money, is hardly successful. I think people see the new buildings and think they are filled up. They aren't. Best, Don Bauder

Are you seriously bringing real estate development into this debate? In case you've been living under a rock, the real estate market collapsed everywhere in the country over the past few years. The fact there has been any development in that area is a smashing success in bucking the trend everywhere else in the state.

I haven't been living under a rock. I have been writing about the real estate crash for years -- even saw something like it coming before the peak. The ballpark district is a classic example of the bypassing of market forces to push a development forward prematurely. The area would have been developed when the market was ready. As you point out, it was not. And it may not be for many years. Best, Don Bauder

Having a new stadium in San Diego, in reality, has NOTHING to do with the Chargers, whether they stay or go..and EVERYTHING to do with hosting Superbowls. We are one of the top 3 favorite Superbowl sites (as per Sports Illustrated) and if has been made very clear to city management by the NFL (and to the Spanos's, etc) that San Diego will NEVER host another Superbowl without a new stadium (Qualcomm redo's arnt enough); and, more importantly, with a new stadium SD would be in the permanent Superbowl rotation. As per Forbes again: "the net economic impact to a hosting city is at least $250 million in direct visitor spending, and there’s little doubt the total economic impact is at least $450 million for each Superbowl." I defy anyone on this board to poll any downtown bar owner, hotel operator, cab driver, etc. that wouldn't support a downtown stadium. It is plain foolish to turn our noses away to the economic benefit of such a stadium, even if it costs +1$ Billion.

Again, let's consult OBJECTIVE economists. They generally agree that a Super Bowl might bring a City $35 million -- not ten times that, as the NFL disingenuously claims. Some economists have figured that a city loses money hosting a Super Bowl. In any case, San Diego -- and any city -- won't be getting regular Super Bowls. There are too many cities competing for the alleged honor. Best, Don Bauder

I'd trust the Forbes data (showing a >$450 million gain) over some unknown random economist. Forbes is an extremely credible source. PS: Any economist that claims a Super Bowl loses money for the hosting city is a moron and should be rightfully mocked.

Forbes is a good magazine, but I trust the economists. I have been in the business magazine industry (9 years with Business Week.) In doing such a story, the author can choose between data produced by an objective economist and figures put out by the league or its paid consultants. The author might go with the inflated figure because it fits with the thrust of the story, or with his editor's predilections. Believe me: I have been there. Best, Don Bauder

Patrick Rishe, who wrote the Forbes article, has HIS OWN SPORTS CONSULTING FIRM. That's exactly the conflict of interest which could potentially lead to biassed results.

And usually I hate to point to credentials, as they are not as important as the details of the analysis. But I took a quick comparison of Prof. Rishe vs. Roger Noll (co-author of "Sports, Jobs, and Taxes" which concludes that stadia subsidies essentially shift money from taxpayers to sports owners and players).

Let's see:

Patirck Rishe (Forbes magazine author) BS UNCC PhD Binghampton Professor at Webster university

Roger Noll (Sports, Jobs and Taxes) BS CalTech PhD Harvard Professor at Stanford

I'd say Prof. Noll's CV is a bit more impressive.

Roger Noll, who is quoted in this article, is one of the academic experts on how government subsidization of sports stadia is a losing proposition. Rishe is a consultant. Consultants are paid to recommend what the entity paying the bill wants. Best, Don Bauder

I imagine you'd trust the Forbes data because it's in line with your preconceived notions.

I think it's reasonably safe to conclude that Chester trusts the Forbes figures because they are what he wants to hear. Best, Don Bauder

We are one of the top 3 favorite Superbowl sites (as per Sports Illustrated) and if has been made very clear to city management by the NFL (and to the Spanos's, etc) that San Diego will NEVER host another Superbowl without a new stadium (Qualcomm redo's arnt enough);

LOL...Yeah right Baby Einstein, TAXPAYERS (not you) will build a BILLION$$$$ dollar white elephant so the NFL can bring a Superbowl here once every 10-15 years.

Dude, put your crack pipe down and take your lips off of Dean Spanos keister before you hurt yourself.

Since so many stadiums are being built and refurbished at public expense, San Diego might not even get a Super Bowl every ten to 15 years. Best, Don Bauder

I guess the Padres attendance is fine if your're satisfied at being a middle of the pack team at best. The team is already only the 23rd best in attendance per game. How do you think it's going to be when the Padres are 20+ games under .500 before the Al;star break. By way of comparison, the Dodgers are averaging about 39k per game and have already out drawn the Padres by over 100k, despite having played 5 fewer homes games. Even the Twins, whom one could argue might be the only team worse than the Padres, are out drawing the Padres by over 10k per game. The Padres attendance is fine? Yeah, not so much.

Apparently home attendance for the Milwaukee Brewers, who are in a market about half the size of San Diego, is very good, outstripping that of the Padres. I don't have those figures in front of me, however. Of course, there is not much to do in Milwaukee. Best, Don Bauder

Thru yesterday's games, the Brewers are averaging about 13k per game more than the Padres. Similar to the Dodgers, after 5 fewer homes games this year, the Brewers have also out drawn the Padres in total attendance, in this case, by over 50k. This, as you mentioned, in a market about half the size of San Diego's, AND with a team that is performing only marginally better than the Padres. Even the Twins, the absolute worst team in baseball at this point, are averaging 11k more per game and drawn only about 15k less fans than San Diego in 6 FEWER games.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is a cultured metro area and there are plenty of lakes around for enjoyment that competes with baseball. Milwaukee is on Lake Michigan. Weather in both places is hardly up to San Diego standards. The Minnesota economy is doing reasonably well, but Milwaukee's is not. Upon moving into Petco, the Padres essentially priced much of the Hispanic community out of the ballpark. Recent price cuts may alleviate that to some degree, but the weak economy will offset that. Best, Don Bauder

So is it your assertion that the best way to drive redevelopment is to have the government subsidize sports facilities?

Conan, the way NOT to drive redevelopment is to have government subsidize sports facilities. It does not lead to successful redevelopment. Best, Don Bauder

I can only agree with you, Don, since you agree with me. :)

Pro sports are a tool used to distract the public from what the politicians are doing. Let's have a separation of sport and State. Let the teams build their own stadiums, and charge them a royalty to play here.

Agreed! Separation of sport and state. Wish I had thought of that. Best, Don Bauder

When talking about something as extremely complex as drawing the cause and effect correlations between development and returns, anyone can make their case by selectively choosing the numbers that favor their vantage point. I really appreciate the insight of this article and the point made about having a nebulous reference point is great. As a matter of fact I had not seen this mentioned anywhere else before. In terms of calling Petco a flop, I would have to highly disagree. Downtown, Petco, East Village is a gem of public and private cooperation in my opinion. As a 40 year San Diego native, I still remember the blighted "lock your doors kids" neighborhoods pre-horton plaza. I would love to live downtown and visit every chance I get. Although I am not a huge baseball fan, I love going to Petco, they did a top notch job with that. I could probably dig up numbers to show the net advantages of this development, but I think it comes down to the opinions of the taxpayers. As such, I feel this is a huge win and I look forward to the next successful development that city goverment can pull off with similar results.

I don't think this is a case of all different groups selectively choosing numbers. There is a clear consensus amongst the academic economists studying stadia subsidies: The economic benefits of taxpayer-subsidized stadia are almost always vastly exagerated. You can look on fieldofschemes.com for many examples. Maybe no group is truly unbiassed but the academic economists would be the closest thing to objective analysists. The sports teams have a clear incentive to tilt the analyses in favor of the subsidies. The political leaders receive large campaign donations from the team owners and their networks of supporters. The consultant groups hired to produce analyses clearly have a strong incentive to produce reports which favor those who are paying their fees.

But fundamentally this all comes down to common sense. YOU CAN'T GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING. Tax money spent for the stadium goes to the owners, players, and sports leagues. This money doesn't magically come back to the taxpayers. Tax money spent for the stadium either comes from higher taxes or by taking money from city services like police, fire, parks, road repair.

Yes, I have been interviewing objective economists on this topic since 1996. There is virtual unanimity that subsidizing pro sports stadia is a loser for cities and states. A handful of respectable ones say that if the team owner is committed to real estate development in the surrounding area, stadium subsidies work. But look at the ballpark district. John Moores rode off to Texas with $700 million to $1 billion because he was permitted to buy the real estate at extremely low prices and sell it at much higher ones. But the development surrounding Petco has hardly been successful. The condos and hotels aren't doing well and there are not enough people living downtown to support the retailing establishments that were promised, and haven't been delivered. Best, Don Bauder

What so many of those who are in favor government welfare for billionaires fail (or refuse) to acknowledge is that the money a facility generates is just local money diverted from other local venues.

So true. It's the substitution effect. Money spent at the ballpark is money NOT spent at local restaurants, bowling alleys, golf courses, etc. Objective economists take the substitution effect into account. Consultants hired by cities do not. Best, Don Bauder

And that's no doubt how the NFL comes up with such stratospheric numbers for Super Bowl hosting. They probably simply add up all the money which is spent in the host city, and say "See, this is how much money a Super Bowl generates for the host city."

That's exactly how the NFL does it, Conan. It adds up all the money spent, without taking into account any of the factors such as the substitution effect. With a Super Bowl, there are other considerations: for example, the hotels do benefit from higher prices, but wealthy visitors book rooms in advance. Thus, revenue from normal sources does not come in. There are extra police and related expenses, too. And the NFL itself rakes in money from many of the activities, squeezing out local vendors. Best, Don Bauder

I fear you are right that San Diego taxpayers don't realize how badly they were taken to the cleaners with the massive Petco subsidy, still draining the city. Then, check out those condos in the ballpark district: they are doing very poorly -- few living there. The subsidized hotels aren't doing well, either. Best, Don Bauder

I still remember the blighted "lock your doors kids" neighborhoods pre-horton plaza.

Downtown SD after dark is still like that now. There might be a few bars/clubs in the Gaslamp that don't have homeless camping out in front. Just walk/drive a few blocks away towards Broadway or the higher numbered streets.

Also do a sex offender registry search for the area. Not safe at all.

Homelessness and safety are major problems downtown at night. Best, Don Bauder

"In terms of calling Petco a flop, I would have to highly disagree. Downtown, Petco, East Village is a gem of public and private cooperation in my opinion."

And did we need Petco for this benefit?

Good point, Conan. East Village was going to develop at some point when the market was ready. Clearly, the market was not ready when Moores spearheaded the building of hotels, condos, etc. Eventually, it would have been developed without a ballpark. Best, Don Bauder

Petco is a great example of post hoc rationalization. Many assert that Petco development was the only (or at least the best) way to revitalize the area, not considering that there were other ways which did not involve giving welfare to a billionaire.

As you pointed out in your article, no one wants to be the mayor who "lost the Chargers," thus politicians are riddled with spinelessness when it comes to dealing with team owners and the pro leagues.

At the time Moores was angling for his $300 million subsidy, there was much controversy because objective economists agree that sports stadia don't stimulate development. So Moores said he would spearhead development in the ballpark district. What a deal he got -- land at early 1990s prices, which he sold for huge gains. Then he got out of town with his winnings from this stacked deal, possibly as much as $1 billion. Best, Don Bauder

Good point. That part of downtown would definitely have developed without handing a massive subsidy to a billionaire. Best, Don Bauder

Sorry for an off-topic post, but I would like to extend my condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Seau family. RIP Junior.

Yes, it is a tragedy. I posted a blog item -- even quoting a great poem -- on Seau. Best, Don Bauder

If a new Chargers stadium is going to be such a money-maker, it would be unfair to take away from the future profits the Spanoses would enjoy by helping them fund the new stadium.

Why do you think billionaire owners get the public to pay for their playthings? If these pro sports facilities were profitable, the private sector would build them. Best, Don Bauder

SD is already in financial trouble due to a bad stadium deal. In ’95 to finance the expansion the city workers unions were the key to the deal. They had to agree to allow the city to underfund their pension plans for X numbers of years to allow for the expansion. To sweeten this financial deal their payouts of the soon to be underfunded pension plans were increased. It wasn’t even a Faustian bargain. The city was doomed to financial loss. You can take more our but we’re going to put less in so that we can expand the stadium Now every other week someone is screaming that we must have pension reform and it’s the unions fault that the city is near financial ruin. The politicians and city manager needed that money then to give to the expansion. The expansion was touted as required to get more Super Bowls. After the one after the expansion we (the city) are told that the lower field seats are not acceptable because they are too low to see over the players. Therefore we’ll never get another Super Bowl. That was the league line then. Have you ever notice at Jerry world in Texas that they have suites lower than field level. Yes these seats are no good in San Diego because you look at the back of the players heads but if you buy a suite in Texas you can look at the player’s feet. I love sports but I can’t stand to see taxpayers held hostage. No matter how much cash we give them, they will want more. Some funding for stadia is acceptable but there has to be a limit. The owners own the team but the team belongs to the city, or at least it should be. Note: The split of advertizing dollars from Jack Murphy which went primarily to the Chargers was listed as a reason the Padres had to have a new stadium. “We can’t afford to stay” in Jack Murphy. The market was flush and our city leaders too simple for the jobs or simple graft. Talk it over.

Yes, the underfunding of the pension system, engineered by Jack McGrory and Susan Golding, really got the snowball rolling downhill. Best, Don Bauder

Another thing to consider:

Much of the debate in the above threads seems to be about whether Petco Park was good for East Village.

Let's just assume for the sake of argument that Petco Park was great for East Village. Well, was it good for Rancho Bernardo? Was it good for Ocean Beach? Was it good for Talmadge? Was it good for La Jolla? Was it good for San Diego as a whole?

That is really the important question and is why the complete analysis with all the effects included has to be done - and why the common sense questions have to be asked.

Ultimately, do the taxpayers see an return on investment (ROI). If the taxpayers spend $20M/yr, let's say, to subsidize a stadium, does the net result end up generating more than $20M/yr in tax revenue? When all the effects (substitution effect, opportunity costs, etc) are truly accounted for? As Don, myself, and others have said virtually all of the detailed objective economic studies say no.

Boosters have to point to nebulous "good will" to ramp up the regional benefits of sports facilities. Good will is worth something, but it's hard to value, therefore easily susceptible to massaging and tweaking to suit one's goals.

In accounting, "goodwill" is where management errors are concealed. One argument by corporate welfare boosters is that international TV exposure resulting from subsidized pro sports stadia raises the image of a metro area. That is nebulous indeed. Have people forgotten about Los Angeles because the Rams and Raiders left in the mid-1990s? Best, Don Bauder

As I mentioned in a post regarding your article about Ryan Leaf, you'd think San Diegans with an inferiority complex vis a vis L.A. would welcome the loss of the Chargers as an opportunity to show that we can be as stoic and pragmatic as Angelenos when subjected to unimaginably mind-numbing horror of not having an NFL team.

San Diegans fear the city will sink into the sea, and out of public consciousness, if there is no pro football team. That, of course, is what happened to Los Angeles. After the Rams and Raiders left, Los Angeles became a complete non-entity worldwide. Best, Don Bauder

True. That's why I stop at Disneyland when traveling north.

Not with the downtown overlords running city government as well as the main local daily newspaper. All people get is propaganda. Best, Don Bauder

According to the mayor's new budget, Petco is costing the City $15 million a year. That's on top of the original $300 million subsidy. There have been no studies that I am aware of that objectively tote up the taxes thrown off by ballpark district development, minus all the costs (police, etc.) necessary to keep the place operating. We do know that increased TOT (transient occupancy, or hotel) taxes have not covered the interests on the ballpark bonds, as the City promised in 1998. Best, Don Bauder

Studies by objective economists overwhelmingly conclude that pouring public money into a sports stadium is a loser for taxpayers. Best, Don Bauder

Back to the Super Bowl argument. The claims that a SB can bring in hundreds of millions of dollars are ludicrous on their faces. If all the attendees showed up in town and spent like Saudi princes, staying several days, that might be realized. That's not what happens. As for the NFL declaring that our current stadium cannot possibly host another SB, that's just part of the NFL blackmail scheme, and meshed perfectly with the Spanos...family and its attempts to justify a huge new taxpayer subsidy for a poorly-sited replacement.

The last time SD hosted a Super Bowl I heard and read all sorts of accolades about how great the facility was, how the open air seating was so great, and how it looked from the blimps overhead. And it did look great that day. So what's the problem? Spanos wants something even more lucrative. Note that I did not say the family wants anything "better", just something with an even-better payoff. It has nothing to do with the present facility--it has to do with bucks.

Yes, the NFL dangling future Super Bowls over cities, warning that they must pour public monies into a stadium or lose this occasional $350 million windfall, is criminally fraudulent and would be prosecuted as such if the NFL weren't so powerful. And the $350 million number is nonsense. Goodell just pulled the stunt on Minnesota, which might capitulate. Minnesotans are pretty smart, though; I am hoping they see through Goodell's blackmail attempt. I would love to see some Minnesota prosecutor charge Goodell with fraud. Best, Don Bauder

There's a great discussion during the 12/31/2011 Voice of San Diego radio show where Scott Lewis and Andrew Donahue relate an assertion by I believe Mark Fabiani that it is incumbent on the taxpayers of San Diego to build a new stadium so that the team can be more competitive.

So according to Fabiani (apparently) it's not Chargers' ownership's responsibility to make the team competitive, it's San Diego's.

You don't understand! While Spanos owns the team, it is not "his" team, it is "our" team, and incumbent upon "us" to support it in every possible way. If the team does poorly, it is for lack of support from the fan base.
Don't you understand this? I mean, it has been the bedrock concept of all this support for pro sports from the beginning.

The discussion on VOSD radio was about the NFL's prohibition against public ownership of a franchise. We all know that one one the reasons is that if a city owns the team, the team and the league can't wring financial concessions from the city via threats to move the team to another city.

If the NFL is a free market endeavor, then there should not be any restrictions on team ownership. But like so many self-labeled free market enthusiasts, NFL owners support the free market only the extent it benefits them. When it doesn't, "protectionism" and "government subsidies" are the words to live by.

So true. Another reason leagues don't permit public ownership is that the books would have to be opened. Owners don't want anybody knowing that they are rolling in bucks. Best, Don Bauder

You are describing how billionaires rake in bucks through OPM -- Other People's Money. Narcissists and sociopaths never blame themselves for problems they themselves caused. Best, Don Bauder

Fabiani knows that statement is untrue. In the NFL, the elaborateness of the stadium and the performance of the team are not particularly related because of revenue-sharing. The revenues that aren't shared are those coming from luxury suites and the like, but San Diego will never be competitive in the luxury category; the city does not have many large, rich corporations or superrich individuals, like LA. That's one reason the Chargers don't try to sell personal seat licenses -- not enough money in town. Best, Don Bauder

If the NFL is a single entity, which would justify the onerous entrance hurdles, then they should share all money equally among all teams.

If they are 32 (or whatever it is now) different businesses, then anyone who can foot the bill should be able to start an NFL team. Then the market would decide the number and location of NFL teams.

Do you not understand anything about the NFL? Perhaps you should try reading it's constitution and by-laws. The NFL is neither a single entity nor 32 different business. It is made up of 32 separate franchises and while you may believe that to be the same thing as 32 different business, it is not. Every franchise has their own requirements that franchisee's have to meet. Try purchasing a McDonald's franchise and see what hoops you jump thru. It has a whole lot more than being able to "foot the bill".

My understanding of how the NFL is organized is irrelevant, especially in light of the fact that I made no claims regarding how the NFL is actually run. My comments were about how the NFL should be run (hence my liberal use of the word "if").

How McDonald's treats its franchisees is also irrelevant, because football teams are not hamburger restaurants. In any event, if you look at the McDonald's U.S. franchising site, the requirements do not look all that onerous. Certainly every business entity which sells franchises has a vested interest in protecting the brand. It's hard to justify the NFL's prohibition against public ownership as "protecting the brand."

And "32 separate franchises" is pretty much the same as "32 different businesses." One McDonald's franchisee is not the same business entity as another McDonald's franchisee. One key question is "Do NFL teams compete against each other in a business sense, or do they operate cooperatively to compete against other entertainment?" McDonald's franchisee A would prefer you shop at his restaurant rather than franchisee B's (although I suppose he would rather you shop at B's McDonald's rather than at Jack in the Box).

The economics of fast food restaurants isn't anything like pro sports. For one thing, fast food places pay the help minimum wage. That isn't true in pro sports. Best, Don Bauder

I understand that you were theorizing. You presented 2 different theories of how the NFL could or should be run. But the fact is the the NFL fits neither model. The fact is 32 separate franchise are not the same as 32 different businesses. If you want to start a business, if you, as you said can foot the bill, then you can start it. assuming that you follow the applicable building codes, laws, etc. If so, then off you go. It is not the same when trying to buy a franchise. Still have to go thru all of the same legal, municipal etc that you do when starting your own business, but on top of that you still have to meet all of the additional requirements that the people selling the franchise, in this case the NFL. NOT the same thing. I never characterized McDonald's franchise requirements as onerous. The point is, as i said that there are requirements above those of just simply opening your own business because you can foot the bill. Have you read the NFL constitution and by-laws regarding ownership. I've never claimed that the NFL's prohibition against public ownership as protecting the brand was justified. One final thought. While buildings or other properties in San Diego, or L.A. for that matter, may be deemed "public" property, the public has very little, if any, say so in the use or disposition. The Green Bay Packers are not owned by the city of Green Bay. They are owned by about 350K individual shareholders, of which I happen to be one. That is what I would call "public" ownership. I don't consider a municipality owning a sports team to be a "public" ownership when the public has no say in the matter.

Remember when Joan Kroc wanted to give the Padres to the City of San Diego? Major League Baseball thumbed that down. Best, Don Bauder

I had read once that either the NFL or MLB has a rule that a team must be 50% owned by an individual. I have no idea if it's true, but if true, it would certainly put the kibosh on public ownership.

@Tom: From a technical legal standpoint, a franchise is not exactly the same as a totally independent business (the franchise agreement has lots of legal jiggery pokery in it about not harming the brand, for example). But franchisee A is not the same entity as franchisee B, nor are either the same entity as the franchisor. That's why my question is a crucial one: are the 32 NFL teams part of one large organization which competes cooperatively against other entertainments, or do they compete with each other in a business sense? I have a hunch they do not compete with each other in a business sense (whereas two different McDonald's franchisees do). So the NFL is more like a department store and each team is like a different department of the store. Therefore all teams should share all revenue equally. That means Dallas' sky boxes should benefit the Chargers. We know NFL teams don't share luxury box revenue. That is logically insupportable if the NFL is one large endeavor, because the Cowboys can't play themselves every Sunday.

The NFL actually does share revenue more than other leagues. That's one reason that teams from small metro areas keep going to Super Bowls. Major League Baseball is different; there is revenue sharing, but it isn't as widespread or efficacious. So a handful of teams such as the Yankees usually dominate because they have extremely high payrolls. There are exceptions such as the Tampa Bay Rays which win with low payrolls. Generally, baseball is far more unbalanced than football. Best, Don Bauder

The methods the 2 leagues use are different, so it's hard to compare. I don't know what the current CBA calls for, but the one that ended after the 2011 season called for all 30 teams pay 31 percent of their local revenues into the fund. That fund was then evenly distributed among the 30 teams. Under the old CBA, the NFL split the gate 60-40. In terms of league generated revenue, I believe both leagues use the same method. The monies are disproportionately split among the teams based on their relative revenues, so lower-revenue teams get a bigger share, but I have no idea what formulas or methods either league uses Another reason that small market teams can get to the Superbowl is that the NFL has a hard cap on salaries. The teams MUST be under the cap at all times. There is also a hard salary floor. I think this year's cap is $120 million. Another reason some teams seem to dominate MLB is that there is no cap. They have the the "luxury tax" and some owners just don't care how much they spend because the are willing to pay the penalty in an attempt to win, unlike some owners who apparently don't care about winning at all.

the 2011 cba that I referred to was for MLB. forgot to type that in.

Yes, the cap is quite important. Best, Don Bauder

The NFL owners do share most revenues, but not all. Best, Don Bauder

All the Spanos family wants is more profit for itself. A downtown stadium would not improve the team's chances. Best, Don Bauder

And so people continue to prove vulnerable to the myth that the primary goal of a sports team owner is something other than to make money. Some of us know that if the Chargers could make more money going 0 and 16 than 16 and 0, the Spanoses would choose 0 and 16.

Arborigine's comment above, "Pro sports are a tool used to distract the public from what the politicians are doing," is well taken.

The previous ownership of the Chargers, meaning Gene Klein, did not do a convincing job with me in regard to winning. I'd say that he was interested in keeping up the tease that "this could be the year", yet it never really came. He'd spend enough that, aided and abetted by the sportswriters and sportscasters, it looked as if he was really trying to field a big winner. But the off years and the near-miss years told another story. Dan Fouts' passing prowess was wasted on mediocre receivers for the most part. Klein found it more profitable to not win big than to spend enough to go for it. If he had gone for it, it would have been "going for broke" in a literal sense.

Have you ever read about Gene Klein's relationship with Meyer Lansky? Interesting tale. Best, Don Bauder

Since the city has decided to invest in entertainment, couldn't we at least do it sensibly? For a fraction of the public money spent on football and baseball subsidies (currently estimated at more than $25 million annually) the city could partner with local entrepreneurs to create a new district next to the convention center.

Adjacent to the Gas Lamp, this will be known as The Red Lamp District, and will honor the historic values of San Diego by providing the finest adult entertainment.

Instead of a super bowl blowing through once a decade, San Diego could have a performing source of revenue (think of the HOURLY TOT!!!) year-round. New talent is always ready to come into the business, and it's a great way to learn teamwork and discipline.

Plus, as an example for our kids it's the best.

Instead of putting our money into a blood sport that produces hulking 45 year old zombies, we could be celebrating life and beauty.

Forget building another stadium. Let's build the biggest collection of brothels in the USA, and truly become America's Finest City.

The Red Lamp District is coming, whether we like it or not, because the next generation is going to have to pay off the overdue bills run up by the profligates of today. Cursed with poor schools, and a culture that celebrated the body over the brain, they'll have to use their bodies to pay off the debts...on their backs.

Thanks, sports boosters. Your daughters will be swinging around poles for tourists...

Fred: You are a genius. Your strategy would return that area to its glorious historical roots. More than a century ago, the district you speak of consisted greatly of brothels. One point you can clarify: you speak of new talent providing fresh entertainment every year. What about the old talent? Will you have a sliding price scale? Say, $xx for the new talent, and $xx for the old talent? What about retirement benefits for the old talent? Fixing price points could be quite interesting. Some customers, putting experience first, might prefer the older talent. Others prefer the fresher new talent. Please clarify your pricing strategy. Best, Don Bauder

Legalized prostitution: now you're talking my quasi-Libertarian language.

There are many examples of legalized prostitution. Look at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Look at our judicial system. Best, Don Bauder

"Prostitute" and "Antonin Scalia" conjure up images best not imagined.

Scalia is not the only SCOTUS member wearing a red dress. The majority is in the lay for pay league. Citizens United is the classic example of political prostitution sanctioned by a biased court. Best, Don Bauder

Worse than that is Chavez v. Martinez, the subject of Alan Dershowitz' book Is There a Right to Remain Silent? The upshot of the decision is that right now, the only 5th Amendment limit on coerced statements is that they cannot be used against you in your own criminal prosecution.

There's also some information regarding a statement from Scalia that innocence has no bearing on whether a punishment is cruel or unusual. Which I guess is probably true, since historically it has never been all that unusual to punish an innocent person.


In normal times, Scalia would be led to a psychiatrist's couch and told to say there until he started thinking rationally. These are not normal times. Best, Don Bauder

If you read his opinions and compare them to Thomas', you easily get the sense that Scalia actually thinks. Thomas is all knee-jerk (emphasis on "jerk"), like Rhenquist was.

I read an article a few years ago regarding an attempt to come up with a per se definition of "activist judge." What the authors put forth was "a judge who votes to overturn legislative or executive actions." By that definition, at the time, the most activist judge on the Supreme Court was Thomas.

Thomas may be activist in that sense, but according to all reports, he is anything but active in court deliberations. He hardly says a word, seldom asks a question. Obviously, he doesn't want to embarrass himself. Best, Don Bauder

During the recent session where the Court heard arguments on Obama's health care law, NPR interviewed on Thomas' former clerks. The man said Thomas does not say anything or ask questions because he's watching and listening. What a load of BS. The truth likely is that, like Rhenquist, Thomas pre-decides cases based on his ideology and politics, so there's no point in him wasting his time listening to the arguments.

A written Thomas opinion is a real rarity.

Thomas was even quoted recently saying that the oral arguments before the court aren't worth listening to. He didn't say he had already made up his mind for ideological reasons, but he might as well have. Best, Don Bauder

Oops, that should be "one of Thomas' former clerks."

I think you hit the head of a much larger nail than you may have intended...what we have is a real imbalance of power) in public/private dealings. This comes from both an imbalance of money, and a misalignment of purpose, between the public and private spheres. The public negotiates on behalf of the best interests of the public (i.e., everybody) with public (i.e., not very much) funds. This usually includes the corporate citizen. The "Corporate citizen," on the other hand, is only working on behalf of its shareholders and not the public.

Also, the amount of money invested in situations like these are absurdly imbalanced. The top city personnel in charge of these contracts are paid what, like 150-225k a year? Meanwhile, those in the private sphere with substantial interests (Manchester, for example) in these projects make millions, and correspondingly have WAY MORE money to devote to the personnel in charge of getting the thing done.

The result? Every year a new "scandal" comes out about some private company outnegotiating the government, making a ton of money, and gouging the city for millions of dollars (remember Rural/Metro?).

It doesn't happen every time, but it happens way too often.

*I happen to disagree with you n the Chargers issue, but thanks for the article anyway.

Good analysis. There is definitely a public sector/private sector imbalance, and it's the source of many if not most San Diego problems. Every recent mayor other than Maureen O'Connor has been in the pocket of private sector interests, mostly real estate interests. Best, Don Bauder

You can see some of the 2013 Petco numbers at http://www.sandiego.gov/fm/proposed/pdf/2013/vol2/v2petcopark.pdf

The Padres will pay $570,850 in rent and the Petco Park fund will get most of its so-called revenue from public money: $4.5 million from TOT taxes and $11.3 million from a "Redevelopment Agency Loan Repayment." So most of the $17.7 million in revenue is the result of moving tax dollars from one pocket to another.

Anyone who can't see the financial impact pro sports has on a city is either blind or grew up behind a computer and never liked sports. I am NO Charger fan by any means but I would hate to see the NFL leave this city. It would hurt us in a major way. Maybe PetCo and a new Charger stadium is/would cost more than it's worth. But I would love to see those budgets should one or both of those teams leave the city.

Those are just my thoughts, thanks for letting me share.

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