Taxpayers association thumbs down Chargers proposal

"...hotel tax should be utilized for critical city services, like street repairs..."

Stadium proposal rendering
  • Stadium proposal rendering

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association today (August 22) stated its opposition to the Chargers proposal for a subsidized stadium downtown. Stated the association: "San Diego should not raise taxes to subsidize a billion-dollar corporation; increases to the hotel tax should be utilized for critical city services, like street repairs and infrastructure improvements."

The study found that even under the most optimistic assumptions, "The City of San Diego would likely have to service debt from the general fund, which pays for a wide range of public services, in order to maintain its credit ratings and avoid higher financing charges for future debt."

The Chargers initiative would raise the hotel tax from 10.5 percent (realistically 12.5 percent) to 16.5 percent. The money would go to paying debt on the subsidized stadium downtown. The combined stadium/convention-center — convadium expansion would cost $1.8 billion, according to the Chargers. But if interest on the bonds is included, the cost balloons to $2.3 billion, says the association. The convention-center expansion part of the project would generate merely $2.3 million a year in hotel-tax revenue, compared to $67 million in annual public costs.

The study exposes optimistic assumptions of the Chargers plan. For example, moving the MTS bus yard would cost $70 million to $80 million. As a result, bus fares would have to go up. Further, "the City of San Diego has approximately $50 million in outstanding debt from the renovation of Qualcomm Stadium in 1997. The approximate $4.9 million in annual debt service will continue for another ten years through fiscal year 2026 and is not covered by the Chargers ballot measure."

The Chargers lease agreement allows for early termination of the lease, and if the team exercised that option, the city would assume debt liability that would not be covered by the exit fee required of the Chargers. The association summarizes a number of economists' studies showing conclusively that the subsidization of stadiums does not lead to economic growth of a city.

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Is there an assumption that a raise in the hotel occupancy tax is even needed? How 'bout we eliminate it, and have the taxes already being collected be used for the reasons we authorized them in the first place? And no loaning of budgets to other departments or agencies...

A downtown Chargers Stadium adds nothing to the locale economy. The same amount of money used for Balboa Park would turn it into a world class year round attraction however.

Something to think about with Sea World looking shaky.

Wabbitsd: A hotel occupancy tax of 10.5 percent (realistically 12.5 percent) is competitive with other West Coast occupancy taxes. In short, there is room to raise it to 16.5 percent or so and still do as well as Anaheim, L.A., San Francisco, etc. Thus, an increase in the tax is doable, but ONLY FOR A NECESSARY PURPOSE. The use of such a tax to subsidize a billionaire's football stadium would be an unwise and actually amoral use of the money.

An increase in the tax could be used to fix streets and sewers, and help lower the multi-billion dollar infrastructure deficit, for example. Best, Don Bauder

MichaelValentine: Fixing the infrastructure is more important, but spending at least some of the money on Balboa Park would not be objectionable. Best, Don Bauder

Don, I have a tough time figuring out just who/what all these taxpayer advocacy groups are. It seems that there is one local one that never met a tax it didn't like; the other one(s) oppose every tax proposal. Which category does this one fit into? The bigger question is if anyone pays attention to what these groups say. If voters actually voted their pocketbooks, few tax measures would pass. And we know that is not the case. I still fear the part of the local electorate that believes that if they have to pay taxes anyway, why not spend the dough on something they like, namely pro football? Those types will vote yes for any sort of deal or giveaway that might keep the Chargers happy and here.

Visduh: The San Diego County Taxpayers Association has favored several corporate welfare deals: the 1965 building of the stadium now named Qualcomm; the financing of Petco Park; the 1997 Qualcomm Stadium expansion, for example. That's why its opposition to the Chargers stadium scam seems so important.

I have written several times that the taxpayers association mainly represents the establishment's interests. Of course, in denouncing the convadium, it is serving the hotel industry's interests. Best, Don Bauder

Joseph Oppenheim: "Municipal malfeasance" not to finance the Chargers' subsidized stadium? Please. You have to be kidding. It is municipal malfeasance that the City has ignored the infrastructure for so long, and allowed police and fire protection to fall below the adequacy level.

"Municipal malfeasance" when a city refuses to subsidize a billionaire's stadium? That is so absurd it doesn't merit a reply. Best, Don Bauder

Haney Hong, the President/CEO of SDCTA said they don't support either initiative that screws the taxpayers (my word, his inference). Even chuckled when he said Chargers could easily keep doing what they do at the Q without any serious financial risk to us, as other proposals would impose.

shirleyberan: The Chargers rake in a bundle of money playing at Qualcomm. They should continue doing so, except they have already fouled their own nest so thoroughly that attendance may plunge. If a new contract for them playing at Qualcomm is completed in 2020, the Chargers should not get such a ridiculously easy deal. Best, Don Bauder

He was being interviewed on KUSI. I think the conclusion was that if the economy stays bad or gets worse (what middle class?) we end up paying for a lack of tourists which makes no sense.

shirleyberan: If San Diego would clean up its infrastructure, the locals would be happier -- and so would tourists. Best, Don Bauder

If they understood or cared what is needed in the downtown area where they want to aquire inexpensive properties, it is homeless shelter for vets and poor unfortunate souls.

shirleyberan: Agreed. Taking care of the homeless is a far higher priority than subsidizing a billionaire's football team. From an economic standpoint, tackling and handling the homeless problem (not an easy task) would improve tourism. Best, Don Bauder

What a difference from the Garrick/UT article. Whereas they stop at the conveniently good for them rosy outcomes, you actually and honestly extend the questions and answers out to their logical and realistic conclusions. Funny how the Chargers always seem to miss these little million dollar details. Oops.


KloEditor: All along, the U-T's coverage of the billionaire stadium scam has been biased in favor of the subsidy, just as it was for Petco and the 1990s rehab of Qualcomm under different management.

Why is the U-T so biased? Advertising. The paper makes a bundle from advertising on the sports page. The paper is acting in its own interest, not the community's interest. Best, Don Bauder

Municipal (government) expenditures can only be justified for police, fire, and infrastructure, including public lands and waters. Anything else is malfeasance. PERIOD.

Flapper: Yes. Cities, states, and counties made a very wrong turn when they followed Ford Frick's self-interested advice to subsidize stadiums right after World War II. It's possible -- not probable -- that sanity is returning. It's possible that San Diego will be leading the way in this return to sanity. Best, Don Bauder

The Chargers Football Stadium deal is huge stretch that did not get proper public input. It is a pet project of special interest groups. A deal could be done with private money. I fail to see why taxpayers should be subsidizing a billionaire business owner like the Spanos family. So many issues have been ignored/glossed over in this flawed plan: 1) too much of a public contribution to this proposed deal. 2) The Spanos family has "no skin in the game" (they want credit for advertising, naming rights, psl's etc). 3) Naming Rights should be the City's contribution to this deal. 4)NFL should have more "skin in the game" also. 5) ComicCon does not want a separate facility..They want contiguous expansion of the current convention center on the waterfront. 6) Huge Outside electronic billboards proposed will ruin the area and lead to the Padres wanting the same treatment. 7) Issues regarding past Qualcomm stadium remodel costs and the note on that?! 8) Issues regarding the current note on Petco Park payed for by the city (15-20M per year) 9) Issues about how much a future note on a Chargers stadium will cost taxpayers every year?! It could run from 25-50M per year...Who would be paying the note?! Taxpayers?! City?! Chargers?! (I doubt that). 10) Are their 2 competing ballot measures for a Chargers stadium?! TOO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AND THE QUESTIONS THAT ARE ANSWERED THE ANSWERS FAVOR THE CHARGERS & NFL AND NOT THE CITY AND TAXPAYERS.

Never underestimate the stupidity of San Diego voters and idiot Charger fans.

AlexClarke: The solution to that problem is for opponents of the double-diddling by billionaire owners to get out and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE the project down. Best, Don Buader

Are you suggesting I try to vote three times?

JustWondering: Even though I am from Chicago, I am not suggesting you vote three times. I am suggesting you vote once and get two other people who are against the ripoff to vote. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: I remember when I was a freshman in high school I ran for treasurer of my home room. The only vote I got was my own. The winner got 35 votes -- but there were only 25 kids in the home room! I told my opponent I would not demand a recount, but I just wanted to know where those extra votes came from.

She stonewalled me. I asked her again at our 50th reunion. She was still stonewalling and showed no remorse. That's Chicago. Best, Don Bauder

SportsFan0000: You make superb points. I hope you can get those points over to as many people as possible.

The reason billionaire owners try to get taxpayers to pay for stadiums is that stadiums per se are not profitable. Ownership of teams is EXTREMELY profitable, but owning a stadium is a loser. That is why the league and the owners try to pass the costs to taxpayers, and after the stadium or arena is built, raise prices so that the citizenry gets double-raped. Best, Don Bauder

Say no to hotel tax hoser hustlers: they pay or nobody plays. There is no more free money for billionaire swindle games. Get your priorities straight people.

David Crossley: The response to the "municipal malfeasance" argument should be stronger than simply "BS." You should invite Oppenheim to get a health checkup. Best, Don Bauder

I agree, but I try not to be too insulting in these forums.

aardvark: But unless you fight, your pocket will be picked. Best, Do Bauder

Don: My "fight" will entail voting no, and telling anyone else eligible to vote it would be in their best interest to do the same.

aardvark: Be sure and tell your friends that if they vote for this measure, they are going to lose money and get nothing in return. Best, Don Bauder

Michael Russell: The reason billionaire team owners try to get taxpayers to ante up is that stadiums themselves are not profitable. Owning a team is enormously profitable. So owners threaten to move, spend big bucks on advertising, and woo taxpayers. It is a scam. Best, Don Bauder

Joseph Oppenheim: A taxpayer-financed stadium is not a tourist attraction. Few people travel to follow their NFL teams. Pittsburgh and Boston were exceptions last season. Best, Don Bauder

David Crossley: AEG or some other company building an arena with its own money would be a welcome addition to the county. Best, Don Bauder

Don: AEG already operates the current arena, and hopefully at some point, they will decide SD could use a nice, new facility. On their dime, of course.

aardvark: The owner of AEG, Anschutz, is a hard bargainer. And a billionaire several times over. Best, Don Bauder

Don: He's got more money than Kroenke (but not counting Kroenke's wife).

aardvark: Without looking this up, I believe I can say that Forbes estimates that Kroenke and his wife (a Walton) are double-digit billionaires -- that is, they have more than $10 billion combined.

One of Kroenke's road to riches was building Wal-Mart stores. Best, Don Bauder

Don - some of these guys don't seem to know what year or day it is or even where they are. Hope San Diego is recognizing the morbid mental issues.

shirleyberan: By "these guys" I assume you mean professional sports team owners. By and large, they are crooked as a dog's hind leg. But don't get the idea that they are stupid. Look at what they get away with throughout the country. Best, Don Bauder

Joey Melander: Once again, a new stadium will attract few tourists. The Zoo, the beach, the golf courses, Balboa Park, the hiking trails attract tourists. Few NFL fans follow their teams out of town. Best, Don Bauder

OK but I was really thinking about the foolishness of supporting NFL charlatan shenanigans.

shirleyberan: Most pro sports ten owners are fraudsters, but not necessarily charlatans, or four-flushers. Best, Don Bauder

Mike Muephy: I think they consulted palm readers. Best, Don Bauder

John Lubvic: The Chargers plan "smells funny?" A better way to say it is that it stinks to high heaven. Best, Don Bauder

Murphyjunk: Some palms got greased in the Petco scam. The recipient got a wrist slap and the donor got off completely. Best, Don Bauder

It should be worth noting that anyone who opposes this deal gets harsh treatment. Look at the situation with city councilman Chris Cate. He said that tax money of whatever type should go to streets, etc. The Chargers, the fans, and the local media immediately equated his statement to saying he wanted the Chargers to leave. (Who knows? He may feel that way, but a councilman can never say such a thing.) All he did was put the infrastructure ahead of the Spanos gang. The proponents of this ballot measure will attack/destroy any politician or other civic leader who opposes them. Many others may have the same opinions, and now will keep silent lest they get on the receiving end of these attacks.

If you're wondering how this can pass, the Cate situation can provide a hint.

Visduh: Yes, the Chargers and their redneck supporters are attacking Cate. Frankly, he should be happy about that. Barbara Bry, said to be a shoo-in for council, also will reject a Chargers deal. No doubt she will be attacked by Spanos, Fabiani, Maas, ad nauseam.That will be a feather in her hat. Best, Don Bauder

Cate has already said he doesn't want the Chargers to leave--his concern is with the "plan" the Chargers have concocted for a new stadium.

aardvark: My guess is Cate went through the document and saw all the loopholes that would allow the Chargers to fleece the citizenry. Ditto with Barbara Bry. My hat is off to both of them for having the courage to try to thwart a scam. Best, Don Bauder

I strongly suspect that most of your readers do not read the comments, or, if they do, they read only a few, as then tend to be poorly organized and redundant. I don't know what the answer to this is, but I suggest that those commenting do so primarily when they have something highly relevant to add and that they cite the segment of your article to which it relates. I also suggest that we, the commenters, keep our comments to one per post and reflect the way your article was organized.

That applies to me too.

My comments aren't redundant. My comments aren't redundant. My comments aren't redundant. My comments aren't redundant. My comments aren't redundant. My comments aren't redundant. My comments aren't redundant. My comments aren't redundant.

ImJustABill: That's tellin' 'em! Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: Many of our commenters write in several times on one subject. I have no problem with that, even though I am committed to answering the comments. Indeed, I welcome it.

I have checked other newspapers. It's the same. A relatively few people comment over and over. Actually, that is often best for keeping a lively and provocative idea exchange going. Best, Don Bauder

Don - the boys are making up rules that don't exist and attempting to control things they can't can't.

shirleyberan: These "boys," as you call them, control a lot of things. That is dangerous to society because these boys don't have scruples. Best, Don Bauder

Kaytee Sumida. You are right. Comic-Con does not want the convadium. If San Diegans vote for the convadium, they are saying goodbye to Comic-Con. Best, Don Bauder

Michael Russell: It's too late for local citizens to own the Chargers. The league won't permit it. Green Bay was grandfathered in a long time ago. Best, Don Bauder

Louis Rodolico: Amen! Pass the word. Best, Don Bauder

Christopher Huynh: The Chargers should be given choices: 1. Build your own stadium with 100 percent your own money; 2. Stay but play at Qualcomm with a deal that is fair to the City, unlike the current deal. 3. Sell yourselves to a multi-billionaire whom Kroenke can work with, and let them leave town, as you suggest. Best, Don Bauder

Who's going to write the opposition language on the ballot?

What will the City (or County?) analyst write?

Flapper: I don't know who will write the opposition language on the ballot. Remember, this is San Diego. Don't be surprised if Spanos writes the proponent argument, and Fabiani or Maas writes the opponent statement. Best, Don Bauder

There HAS to got be a relatively new high school stadium in which the Chargers can play. Cathedral Catholic High School in beautiful Carmel Valley perhaps? There are probably enough Charger fans in the county to fill that stadium. They can sell prayer beads instead of alcohol in hope of a Charger win - or at least advancing the ball ten yards for a first down.

Rocket_J_Squirrel. Texas has several $60 million high school stadiums. There aren't any in San Diego, to my knowledge. Best, Don Bauder

There HAS GOT TO be...dyslexia in me. Too many edits prior to posting. (sigh).

Mike Murphy: Fabiani lives in San Diego -- or at least did. He will still be slithering around. Best, Don Bauder

he dares show his face in public these days?

Murphyjunk: He is crying all the way to the bank. Best, Don Bauder

Thomas Coyne: Good point."Greatness" is not a word that has applied to the Chargers very often. Best, Don Bauder

Once the Chargers have left town, change the Q into a football (soccer) pitch, and have international friendlies there. Our national mens and womens teams could play other countries. Other countries could play there also. Who wouldn't mind coming to San Diego for a match?

Rocket_J_Squirrel: Would a switch to futbol from football be so traumatic? Best, Don Bauder

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