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Something has gone terribly wrong within the band of professional sports hucksters lobbying for public money. One of them is telling the truth. The Seattle Sonics professional basketball team wants to leave its longtime home -- which is balking at giving the team a big subsidy -- and relocate to Oklahoma City. Seattle has gone to court, saying the departure would hurt the local economy. Replied the Sonics,"There will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle. Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle's many other sports and entertainment options." This is the substitution effect that economists opposing stadium subsidies have long argued. A new stadium only redistributes spending within a city; it brings in very little if any money from the outside. Rodney Fort, former Washington State sports economist now at the University of Michigan, commented wryly, "When the Sonics are trying to get the public to pitch in on a new arena, they are worth tens of millions to the Seattle area," but when the team wants to vamoose, "they are worth nothing to the Seattle area." Next event: the University of Washington wants taxpayers to pay for half of a $300 million stadium renovation for its Huskies. The university claims that Husky sports bring $211 million in sales taxes to the state -- very doubtful, because little money comes in from the outside. It's that substitution effect again

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Comments

JF Jan. 31, 2008 @ 11:43 a.m.

Can I get an Amen?

I do have a question, though. Does that account for profits during the Super Bowl? In one sense, that would be like saying that we don't need the Convention Center because it doesn't bring any money to San Diego.

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 31, 2008 @ 12:30 p.m.

Sorry JF, but your logic again lacks any sort of substance.

A Superbowl comes once every 5-10 years, that's IF you're on the SB circuit. San Diego has had it only once-1988.

The Convention Center has conventiosn 52 weeks out of the year.

Hardly a valid comparison.

But Don is right, these scammer sports owner will say and do anything to get free $$$/welfare.

I dont see it changing anytime soon because the elected officials are usually in the pockets of the team owners-sort of like how they are also in the pockets of the public employee unions.

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JF Jan. 31, 2008 @ 12:49 p.m.

Johnny, that's my point. The Super Bowl is essentially nothing more than a sports based convention. It likely does bring in additional money to the city. But, as you stated, that's only every few years. Not worth the day to day corporate welfare that is given to sports teams.

And once again, Johnny, you've completely misunderstood my entire point.

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goodguy Jan. 31, 2008 @ 1:05 p.m.

JohnnyVegas wrote: "I don't see it changing anytime soon because the elected officials are usually in the pockets of the team owners-sort of like how they are also in the pockets of the public employee unions."

I don't know about the elected officials, but I think that a big reason it's not going to change anytime soon is because the Anti-Union Tribune is in the pockets of the team owners - just like they're also in the pockets of the developers and Indian/gambling interests.

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Don Bauder Jan. 31, 2008 @ 3:10 p.m.

Response of 11:43 a.m.: Two answers: 1. The NFL executives who claim that a Super Bowl brings in $350 million for a local economy should go to jail. Rob Baade, a sports economist at Lake Forest College, estimates that a Super Bowl brings in one-tenth of what the NFL says -- more like $35 million. There are some who argue that, once you tote up what it costs in police and other services, a host city actually loses money. 2. But as to the convention center, it does bring in money from the outside. No doubt about it. However, the question is whether it brings in enough to merit a big public subsidy, particularly since convention centers across the U.S. are vastly overbuilt, and Las Vegas offers such competitive space and prices.

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Don Bauder Jan. 31, 2008 @ 3:16 p.m.

Response to post of 12:30 p.m.: San Diego has had more Super Bowls than the one you mentioned. It had one in the early part of this century. But as I said above, it's questionable how much money these events bring in. You are right: the NFL promises Super Bowls to locales that subsidize a stadium. So many promises have been made that it's doubtful how soon another Super Bowl would come to San Diego if the Chargers built in Chula Vista. (Incidentally, I think that building in either Chula Vista or Mission Valley is almost out of the question right now.) Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 31, 2008 @ 3:18 p.m.

Response to post of 12:49 p.m.: Yes, a Super Bowl brings in a little money but also rings up big costs. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 31, 2008 @ 3:22 p.m.

Response to post of 1:05 p.m. Right on on all points. The pols are in the pockets of team owners, just as they are in the pockets of municipal employees unions. (Exceptions: Aguirre and Frye.) The U-T is in the pockets of team owners because it gets reams of advertising from sports. It wants the public to subsidize teams so that its own advertising will grow. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Jan. 31, 2008 @ 6:45 p.m.

Oklahoma City is better for the Sonics because of the location (time-zone) and the fact Seattle is not that big a basketball town. In fact, people in Seattle would be happy to watch the Huskies over the Seahawks.

We all see how much L.A.'s economy has suffered over the past decade from not hosting Super Bowls and not having an NFL team. For shame that the government has not bailed out L.A. do this this huge shortcoming in their economy. Just think of how many part time jobs L.A. could add? What, 12 to 15 6 hours shifts a year at minimum wage. That will help L.A. pull out of their doldrums.

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JF Jan. 31, 2008 @ 9:17 p.m.

Don, regarding your post of 3:18 -- exactly, is all the OT reimbursed by the NFL or made up by sales tax revenues? I doubt it, especially given how low our TOT is and how little a percentage of our taxes that the state gives back.

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Anonymous Feb. 1, 2008 @ 6:26 a.m.

San Diego has hosted three superbowls in 1984, 1998 & 2003. But only we "awarded" two. The game in 2003 was played in San Diego when the other site was not "ready" in time. If San Diegans knew what their so-called "city leaders" agreed to provide at no cost to the NFL to host one of these games, they'd understand why San Diego is in financial turmoil.

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 1, 2008 @ 8:37 a.m.

San Diego did not host a SB in 84 or 98 or 2003, the only one it hosted was 1988, Redskins and Broncos.

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Don Bauder Feb. 1, 2008 @ 9:59 a.m.

Response to post of 6:45 p.m.: The L.A. suicide rate has zoomed 11,000 percent since it lost its pro football teams in the mid-1990s. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 1, 2008 @ 10:01 a.m.

Response to post of 9:17 p.m.: Overtime would not be reimbursed by the NFL, but sales tax revenues might offset it. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 1, 2008 @ 10:04 a.m.

Response to post of 6:26 p.m.: At the '03 Super Bowl, the then-head of the NFL, Paul Tagliabue, declared publicly that the '03 game would be the last one in San Diego until a new stadium was built. This was proof that the NFL's lobbying for taxpayer funds to subsidize stadiums is an extortion racket. Best, Don Bauder

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cubed3 Feb. 1, 2008 @ 12:48 p.m.

"the most significant contribution of sports is likely to be in the area of intangibles. The image of a city is certainly affected by the presence of professional franchises. Professional sports serve as a focal point for group identification. Sports contests are a part of civic culture. There may well be awillingness of voters to pay taxes to subsidize this kind of activity just like there is for parks an museums."

by Robert Baade

and as of now, the Charger's haven't asked for any subsidies for a new stadium; Will the shoe fall from the other foot? Only time will tell.

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JF Feb. 1, 2008 @ 1:43 p.m.

San Diego did not host a SB in 84 or 98 or 2003, the only one it hosted was 1988, Redskins and Broncos.

By JohnnyVegas 8:37 a.m., Feb 1, 2008

Go to http://www.supernfl.com/SuperBowl.html and scroll down.

San Diego hosted the SB in 1988, 1998 and 2003.

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 1, 2008 @ 7:58 p.m.

I forgot about Oakland, and for the life of me I do not remember that Denver Greenbay game was here.

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2008 @ 9:40 a.m.

Response to post #16: Count on it. The Chargers will demand a subsidy, unless the team relocates to L.A., which won't give it one. In that case, the NFL would come in with money, because it desperately wants a franchise there. As to Robert Baade: he is one of the economists doing the best job exposing the stadium extortion game. He's right: it's the so-called intangibles. A pro sports team is apparently important to a city's image. So the San Diego establishment would rather have a bankrupt city subsidize a football team than have a library, decent sewer and water systems, art and culture, etc. Art Modell, former owner of the Browns and Ravens, said "the pride and presence" of a pro football team is more important than libraries, culture, etc. To Modell, it was. To the San Diego establishment and the mainstream media it has in its pocket, tragically, it also is. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2008 @ 9:44 a.m.

Response to post #17: Johnny, you're right on most things, but on this you're wrong. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Feb. 6, 2008 @ 8:23 a.m.

Why is there anybody out there still claiming the Chargers and Padres are good for San Diego?

If they were to both leave today, and never come back, we would immediately have an additional $25 million (minimum, probably even more) in our budget. That would pay for a lot of important San Diego needs. We could also sell these white-elephant stadiums and put the land to some productive purpose.

In addition, the substitution effect would finally benefit local businesses, instead of our entertainment dollars flowing into the pocket of these moguls who don't even live in our city, and never ever pay taxes anywhere. (They're far too rich to pay taxes like the rest of us.)

Think also about the lost productivity through hangover recuperation after big games for example, or lost work time obsessing about some sports star rather than producing something of real value. Big games are a disaster for businesses every where. And do we ever calculate how much professional sports costs in additional law enforcement needs? Drunken pissed-off fans beating their wives and kids are just not any good for our society.

How much better our whole region will be without these steroid pumping aggression machines infesting our home. Prostitutes and drug peddlers are better role models for our children than most professional athletes.

Finally, we should at the minimum stand up and demand that the foolishness of wasting millions on college football must stop. No university with any academic standards should be associated with these kinds of knuckle draggers. It lowers the reputation of the entire school to have these muscle heads on campus. If they want to play ball for a living, the teams can foot their training bills.

I'd like to see Spanos and Moores in jail for what they've done to this city.

But if the best we can hope for is kicking them out of town and never allowing them back, I'll settle for that.

(yet another sdblogger)

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2008 @ 7:34 p.m.

Response to post #21: Neither the Padres nor Chargers will be kicked out. The latter may leave of their own volition, but that is looking impracticable. I have nothing against pro sports stadiums, but I believe they should be supported 100 percent by the private sector. You are right on college sports: they are out of hand. It is a disgrace what SDSU spends subsidizing its football program at the same time laboratory equipment is deficient, faculty salaries are low, etc. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Feb. 9, 2008 @ 11:24 a.m.

Yeah, too bad, you are probably right...but must we relax and try to enjoy our civic rape? Shall we pay for the politician's love-babies for the next twenty years as well?

Please, anybody, explain plainly why the statute of limitations applies to these ongoing frauds. I've only ever seen this declared, but never once backed up with a legal decision, or a technical reason, or even a clear definition of when exactly the these pro-sports frauds stopped occurring.

These are blatant cases of fraud against the public. They are ongoing.

Is it really true that these filthy Moguls, in addition to developing Stockton into one of the worst ranked places in the country, pirouetting away from the Peregrine stock fraud with $650 million in the bank, and corrupting our city for the next two generations, can just get away with it?

I'm from Generation X, so I don't have respect for the way we're being told, "mistakes were made".

Oh yeah? Who? When? How?

Let's try to get our money back! Otherwise, we're gonna be paying this off for the rest of my life.

Best,

(yet another sdblogger)

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Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2008 @ 3:18 p.m.

Response to post #23: The sports stadium scam should be declared illegal, but it won't be. How many watched the Super Bowl? 100 million? Or more? For the most part, it's only sophisticated cities that will fight this scam. New York blocked the deal that the Mets wanted on the west side of Manhattan. San Francisco forced the Giants to go to the ballot five times. Finally, the team gave in and paid for its ballpark. Boston and Massachusetts wouldn't cave into the Kraft family, which eventually built the stadium itself. Minneapolis is still holding out. Los Angeles has told the NFL that public money won't go into a stadium. The cities that feel they need national exposure cave in to this scam; San Diego is an example. But San Diego can't cave in now; it's flat broke. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Feb. 11, 2008 @ 11:44 a.m.

We're supposed to be one of the smartest cities on the planet today. Look at what we're doing with our research institutions!

I meet intelligent and well informed people every day. Not everyone is a beach bunny just wanting to "have a nice day".

So I hope to put San Diego firmly in the "sophisticated city" list.

Isn't that much more attractive than just a major league city?

Again, why is there a statute of limitations on pursuing Moores and the Spanos clan?

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Don Bauder Feb. 11, 2008 @ 7:09 p.m.

Response to post #25: Yes, there are many intelligent people in San Diego, as the research institutions show. But the people who run and work at the research institutions and the universities do not run San Diego. The developer/hotelier/casino clique runs the city. And they want to subsidize billionaire sports owners. Statute of limitations? If San Diego went after its sports owners, then other cities would be obligated to do the same thing. The same scam has been run in dozens of cities. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Feb. 11, 2008 @ 9:11 p.m.

Don,

So if I understand your reasoning, it's "If we go after this pair of crooks, then all the other crooks would have to be prosecuted too."

Yep. I'm okay with that.

But that's a political, not legal, reason, and a flimsy one at that. What ignited the trust busters of a century years ago? Wasn't it a similar situation of finally going after the robber barons that everyone thought untouchable? Are we less courageous than our great grandfathers? Have we forgotten how to stand up to bullies?

I agree one hundred percent on your analysis of the current situation, but I'm asking where we should be going next, and how to get there.

Don, I guess you're agreeing that there's probably no legal barrier to prosecuting these crooks and the public officials they corrupted.

So who has the responsibility to bring cases against them?

Thank you,

(yet another sdblogger)

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Don Bauder Feb. 12, 2008 @ 7:31 a.m.

Response to post #27. I confess you are absolutely right: the reason I cited is based on politics and not legality. About 35 years ago, with permission of management (later withdrawn), I began a probe into organized crime connections of pro sports owners. This had been written about in books. It was reported in detail by the Kefauver Commission. There was a lot of public information about the topic. I phoned a government investigator in Washington, D.C., who had tried to get similar studies going. He explained that people simply do not want to hear about this. They love professional sports so much that they don't want to know that the owners are professional gamblers with gangster backgrounds. Each time he would try to get an investigation going, politicians would hear from their constituents, and pretty soon the investigation would be quietly killed. That is what I am talking about. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 13, 2008 @ 7:23 a.m.

Response to post #29: By the numbers: 1. How well I remember those days. I was called the same names, and in print. To go back and read what you and other opponents were saying, and what I was writing, is illuminating. We weren't against a ballpark being built. We were against the taxpayers subsidizing it for $300 million-plus. We warned that such legitimate public expenditures as services and, in particular, infrastructure would suffer from the diversion of public funds to subsidizing a project that could have been funded privately. (The establishment, which says it believes in capitalism, was horrified at the thought of private funding.) Today, services are dwindling and infrastructure rotting; 2. Yes, the government's successful efforts to get Moores off the hook on the Stallings payments were utterly disgusting, and reflective of San Diego. Ditto for similar efforts in the Peregrine Systems case; 3. I doubt 80 percent of San Diegans would oppose a Chargers subsidy, even though the City is broke. One poll of a year or two ago showed citizens still favoring the ballpark deal. People saw all the tall buildings and figured the project was a success. Unfortunately, those buidings -- condos -- were basically not occupied. Has the public wised up? I hope you are right; 4. I respect your determination to recover the money sucked out of a City that is now on the edge of bankruptcy. I just don't think it would work for political reasons. San Diego's prosecutors and courts are controlled by the establishment that gave us this abortion. But I would like to hear more on how you think it could be accomplished. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Feb. 14, 2008 @ 1:38 p.m.

Don,

I have sent you an email through the editor of the Reader. Please reply, and then I'll explain something more of what I've got in mind.

Thanks for your encouragement,

(yet another sdblogger)

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2008 @ 3:15 p.m.

Response to post #31: I have received a couple of such emails today but none addressing the topics you have been discussing. I should have it by now. Can you send to me directly? don.bauder@mac.com. Or call 619-546-8529. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Feb. 12, 2008 @ 10:18 p.m.

When I campaigned against Prop. C. in '98, I was threatened with baseball bat beatings three times, including once in city council chambers. Jack McGrory called me an "urban terrorist" in the UT. KOGO refused to sell us advertising time. The media outlets all settled on our least articulate spokesperson, and put her up against professional liars for hire.

We still got 40% of the vote. Remember, just a few days prior, the Padres put meth-snorting steroid-injecting ringers on the field to float and buzz all the way to the World Series. Judgment thus befuddled, voters mistakenly passed Prop. C.

Within months, the ringers were off the team, the revenues were diverted, Moores was let off the hook for his responsibilities, and all opposition was batted away. All while Stallings was being slipped out of office and John Moores' blatant bribery was classified as an "improper gift".

A few years, a few mayors, and a few convictions later, we're bankrupt.

I think we now have 80% of San Diegans who are mightily irked at how this has turned out. Our leaders did not "Keep the Faith".

So let's make sure that this is a major 2008 issue.

Ask every candidate:

Will or won't they give any city money, land, loan guarantees, or any other assistance to professional sports teams?

Is accommodating the Chargers or Padres in their top ten list of priorities? If so, why?

Do they support the privatization of Balboa Park? If so, why and how?

Maybe I'm just a wild-eyed idealist, but in a democratic society with elections and the rule of law, theoretically, we can actually change things by participating in the process in an open and rational manner. We can choose candidates who agree with us and help to get them elected. We can also identify candidates we disagree with and persuade others to vote against them.

When we win a majority on the council this year, as I'm confident we shall, then I believe they will be able to initiate a civil/criminal lawsuit against Moores and the Spanos family, not forgetting Golding, Gwinn, McGrory, et al.

Is there anything wrong with my theory, Don? As the injured party, the city should be able to sue, especially with so much evidence of fraud and corruption. A new council could finally open up the books and allow investigators to expose the details.

We really need that money back. By my calculations, taxpayers have laid out at least $500 million in the last decade on stadiums, ballparks, direct and indirect subsidies. This doesn't even include the use of eminent domain to enrich Moores and JMI, nor the tremendous opportunity costs...but it's a start at paying down our $3 billion debt.

I'd welcome feedback on this.

(yet another sdblogger)

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