— Some recent developments were less promising than advertised. "When a stadium is said to be privately financed, you have to look at the details," says Baade. The Dallas Cowboys advertised that they were putting up half of a proposed $650 million stadium. However, the Heartland Institute points out that while the governments would use new taxes to retire their part of the debt, the Cowboys were permitted to slap a tax on tickets and parking. The team gets 95 percent of the naming rights and also a loan from the league it doesn't have to repay. The team's subsidy could reach $1.2 billion, says Heartland.

A proposed billion-dollar subsidy to the New York Jets was knocked down by two state politicians this year. Polls showed that New York City residents had consistently opposed the proposal, partly because the New York Times editorialized that the billions for owners should go for critical public services. But the Jets will be back, because other teams have their hands out.

The New York Yankees and Mets are claiming they will build their own stadiums, with the government kicking in some things such as parking. But FieldofSchemes.com says that the teams will collectively get more than $900 million from city and state funds, rent rebates, bond subsidies, property tax savings, and the like. If you add in the $451 million that the Nets, a basketball team moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, want in city and state funds, New York governments could be on the hook for more than $1.3 billion.

Fort is not optimistic that what he calls "the stadium mess" will improve. Politicians can't resist a stadium subsidy: teams, the business establishment, labor unions, and the construction industry lobby heavily. The media (with some exceptions) are generally biased for the public subsidy that is in their economic interest. "There is little hope that direct democracy can curb the stadium mess," he says.

Knowing that the city is broke and services will be slashed and taxes raised, San Diegans may still vote a billion-dollar gift for their beloved Chargers, who will take the money and laugh all the way to the goal line.


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