continued Timeliness is one advantage Internet news services have over other media, Attiyeh said. "We can report in real time. We don't need to wait for the next print run like a newspaper or the next issue like a magazine." A disadvantage is "We don't have the resources in terms of staff and on-location access that traditional media have."
Attiyeh was among a handful of people who launched TodaysSports.com last summer after SportsExtra was sold. TodaysSports.com has only a dozen full-time employees and relies on about 15 freelance journalists, including Weiner. It attracts an estimated 980,000 readers a month, mostly men between ages 18 and 34. Deriving revenue from advertising, sponsorships, electronic commerce, and syndication, the website expects to be profitable in two years.
Paul Lanning, president of TodaysSports.com and its parent company, Today's Communications Inc., has a sports connection to San Diego. He was active in student government and athletic programs at UCSD, where in 1990 he received a bachelor's degree in political science. As co-chair of the planning committee for the university's $30 million RIMAC recreational sports facility, Lanning wrote the referendum that students voted on to finance construction.
"I think it was the largest self-imposed student-fee increase in the UC system's history," Lanning said. The students approved paying an additional $170 each in annual fees to build a versatile athletic center that accommodates dancers and speakers as well as basketball players and weight lifters.
"It would be very difficult to do this again," Lanning said. "In today's climate it's very tough to get voters to pass any kind of tax or fee increase. The San Francisco Bay Area is a good example of that," he said, noting voters there rejected spending taxpayer money or public funds for a new baseball stadium. Consequently, the Giants and corporate sponsors paid $325 million to build Pacific Bell Park, which opened early this month.
However, each city is different, Lanning said, acknowledging San Diego's near opposite scenario of contributing more than $350 million to the Padres' new ballpark. "It depends on the political climate and the fiscal climate of the city. It depends on the team."
Spanos's outburst wasn't surprising, Lanning said. "You have one team [the Padres] that gets a brand-new facility that's state of the art and another team [the Chargers] is left in an old stadium. The Chargers, quite frankly, probably feel they deserve what the Padres have already received." Newer stadiums are built with such amenities as luxury skyboxes and fancy restaurants to attract big businesses and wealthy spectators, Lanning said, so they're considered more economically feasible and marketable than the elephant-like, no-frills stadiums of the 1960s.
"For San Diego, the scary part is there are a half-dozen other cities that would build the Chargers a stadium," Lanning said. "If cities don't have a team, they'll be more likely to finance a new stadium. That's how the Rams ended up in St. Louis, and the Raiders went back to Oakland. It's musical chairs." Weiner reported on the radio last week that the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission seeks to rebuild the coliseum and recruit a football team.
As a multipurpose media person, Weiner often lectures about the business of sports, and people invariably ask about new sports facilities. "Here in New York, my audiences are always shocked when I point out part of their Con Edison local utility bill goes to subsidize Madison Square Garden. The Garden is not required to pay electric bills through a unique deal cut with then Governor Mario Cuomo in the early 1980s."
In his presentations, Weiner emphasizes that government has been a partner in sports since the U.S. Tax Code changed in 1986. Some taxpayers have become suspicious of deals between team owners and politicians. Residents of Houston; St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Greensboro-Winston-Salem area of North Carolina have voted against subsidizing the construction of new professional-sports facilities.
Many team owners continue seeking new stadiums, ballparks, and arenas, nonetheless, Weiner said, noting New York City and the surrounding area exemplify that quest. He delivered a radio commentary last week about how eight of the nine professional sports teams there want new venues. They include the Yankees baseball team, the Rangers hockey team, the Nets basketball team, and the New York Jets football team.
That Spanos wants a new stadium, too, should not shock anyone, given the trend, Weiner said. "The reaction of surprise in San Diego -- and especially the overreaction in the media -- is partly because San Diego is so laid back. It caught people with their pants down, so to speak. You don't have the intensity of news coverage there like you do on the East Coast.... All somebody had to do was ask Spanos a question."