Local politicians will happily spend hundreds of millions on professional football but let San Diego Opera go to its funeral pyre.
  • Local politicians will happily spend hundreds of millions on professional football but let San Diego Opera go to its funeral pyre.
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"It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Excited TV announcers belt out that colloquialism at sports events that could be won by either side, even if one team seems to be comfortably ahead.

Those sportscasters would be embarrassed to know the axiom’s derivation. It comes from the end of Richard Wagner’s four-opera, 16-hour Der Ring des Nibelungen. The last of the four operas, Götterdämmerung, ends as the usually corpulent soprano Brünnhilde, warbling at high pitch, mounts her steed and plunges into the funeral pyre, when Valhalla crumbles and the gods are destroyed.

How many jockstraps know that their favorite aphorism was first uttered in 1976 by a college sports information director who apparently knew opera?

Hey, sports and serious music don’t mix. Everyone knows that. Billionaire owners of pro sports teams get massive taxpayer subsidies to build stadiums and arenas; arts groups get crumbs, if that.

Mayor Faulconer: Public funds to save the opera “won’t be an option.”

Mayor Faulconer: Public funds to save the opera “won’t be an option.”

Consider San Diego. On March 19, San Diego Opera suddenly announced it wanted to go out of business at the end of this season. The matter is still up in the air. Mayor Kevin Faulconer stated, “Spending taxpayer funds to save the opera won’t be an option because they will be spent on my priorities, which are street repairs and neighborhood services.” Faulconer said he would help the philanthropic community raise the funds.

The part about street repairs and neighborhoods is bunk. Within a few weeks, Faulconer’s aides were sitting down with the San Diego Chargers to talk turkey — that is, a massively taxpayer-subsidized stadium for the team, which would be a real turkey. U-T San Diego said taxpayers would chip in $400 million to $600 million of the roughly $900 million to $1 billion or more total cost. That would be on a par with the percentage taxpayers shell out in other stadium deals, quoth the U-T.

More bunk. The definitive work on this topic came from Harvard’s Judith Grant Long, who two years ago found that taxpayers on average pick up 78 percent of stadium payments. The costs of land, infrastructure, operations, capital improvements, municipal services, and lost property taxes add 25 percent to the taxpayer bill. Those initial lowball forecasts are phony enticements to voters.

Not long after Faulconer nixed an opera bailout, San Diego put in its bid for the 2024 Olympics. The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics cost $40 billion. The 2012 London Summer Olympics came in at $15 billion.

“The Olympic games are awash in fiscal myths,” said the British newspaper the Guardian late last year. “Games boosters always roll out tantalizing promises. One common claim is that the Olympics are a windfall for the host city.” However, “Academic economists simply haven’t found a positive relationship between hosting the Games and economic growth.” Economist Jeffrey Owen says, “It is unlikely that anyone ever will.” Said the Guardian, “Underestimating Olympic costs has almost become an Olympic sport in itself.”

The time to celebrate San Diego Opera is over. It’s time to save it.

The time to celebrate San Diego Opera is over. It’s time to save it.

The Economist says hotel bookings actually dropped during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Nevertheless, hosting the games is “wildly popular with the voters who foot the bill.” San Diegans will be told that the Olympics — like the Chargers stadium — won’t cost much. Don’t believe a word of either claim.

No one should be surprised that a report released early this month by the American Association of University Professors showed that from 2004 to 2011, inflation-adjusted spending for athletics at big and medium-sized universities, and small colleges and community colleges, went up 24.8 percent, while spending on instruction and academic support was about flat and public services and research declined.

The purpose of higher education is education? What are you? Some kinda weirdo?

While professional- and amateur-sports spending soars, classical music — opera, symphonic, and chamber — is dying of old age. Less than 3 percent of recording album sales are classical. According to Slate, the percentage of adults going to a classical concert (even once a year) dropped from 13 in 1982 to 8.8 in 2012. Classical music radio stations are drying up.

Seattle Symphony reports that 32 percent of its regular-season audience has postgraduate degrees. When it does Wagner’s Ring Cycle it’s 39 percent. Brünnhilde may be plump, but she brings out the well-educated folks.

In 1937, the median age at Los Angeles orchestra concerts was 28, says Slate. It’s probably over 50 now. Music education has been in decline for years. That’s one of the major reasons San Diego Opera attendance has fallen so sharply.

So, it’s clear why a politician like Mayor Faulconer will toss gobs of public money at sports teams owned by billionaires and offer nothing to an opera company on the brink. (The opera is slated to get $389,357 from the city’s Special Promotional Programs this year. The symphony will get $411,870 and the Old Globe $421,074.)

Politicians know that sports are where the votes are. Personally, I don’t like government subsidies for professional sports or the arts. There is no question that classical music appeals to an elderly, elite audience that should pay its own way. Even Europeans, longtime arts subsidizers, are rethinking the practice, given the weak economy.

But the wealthy and elite really aren’t supporting classical music — or any charities — the way they should. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Californians with compensation of $50,000 to $99,999 give 6.2 percent of their incomes to charity. The favored few who make $200,000 and above give 4 percent. In particular, the affluent who huddle in one neighborhood are penny-pinchers in charitable giving. In city after city, it’s the low-income residents who lift giving levels, according to the Chronicle.

The same pattern holds true with corporations. In 2012, according to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Fortune 500 (the largest) companies gave 0.09 percent of their revenue to charities. Smaller companies gave 0.14 percent.

And according to Giving USA, only 5 percent of 2012’s total charitable giving went to culture, the arts, and humanities. Taxpayers should not have to support the wealthy — except in the case of billionaire sports-team owners, according to the politicians who pander to pedestrian tastes.

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MURPHYJUNK April 23, 2014 @ 7:45 a.m.

and keep in mind both forms or entertainment are just that. entertainment


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 8:54 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Also keep in mind that the football stadium subsidy will probably be about $700 million. Any opera subsidy would be a tiny fraction of that.

I believe governments -- particularly a San Diego government in deep fiscal trouble -- should stick to the traditional mission of governments: water, sewer, other infrastructure, police, fire, etc. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark April 23, 2014 @ 8:32 a.m.

Maybe the city could enter into a ticket guarantee with the opera--after all, that worked SO well for the city with the Chargers.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 8:56 a.m.

aardvark: What a splendid idea! A tiny fraction of the population goes to opera. Ergo, somebody on the city council will no doubt throw that idea into the hopper. Brilliant! Best, don Bauder


Anon92067 April 23, 2014 @ 9:28 a.m.

Clearly, Faulconer's backers put him into office (and annihilated Nathan Fletcher's candidacy so he wouldn't challenge the dull Kevin) so that they could rake in all the millions that will accrue to developers and the Spanos family if a new stadium is built.

It's amazing that people don't see the connection, and are more skeptical. It only took Faulconer a short while in office before he started "paying back" his supporters by initiating stadium talks.

Yet he plays a completely different card when it comes to arts and culture--he could easily help make the 50th anniversary season of the opera possible simply by waiving or drastically reducing the rental fee on the Civic theater. That would be a real statement of city support and endorsement of SDO, Ms. Lazier, and the dedicated staff and (remaining) board members who want this company to survive.

What are the chances Faulconer could be so inspired???


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 12:27 p.m.

Anon92607: I think there is a chance the city will waive the $750,000 for the Civic Center, but that's only a small percentage of what the opera needs. As I said, I really don't believe in government subsidy of the arts, other than the small amount they get now from the transient occupancy tax. Opera, and all classical music, are in tailspins because of the dumbing down of our culture. Government money should be spent on infrastructure, maintenance, and the like.

With its huge pension deficit and rundown infrastructure and neighborhoods, San Diego can't afford a subsidy to the Chargers (owned by a billionaire family) or the Olympics. But the city will cook the books and try to convince the people that the city can afford both. It cooked the books for the ballpark vote.Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 23, 2014 @ 1:41 p.m.

I couldn't disagree more about government subsidy of the arts. If you look at the recent Social Progress Index study that was just issued by Harvard (and led by a very conservative academic), the U.S. is now ranking pathetically low globally in just about every category--health, education, housing, opportunity, basic human need. And the report points out that this decline began in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan and his "greed is good, taxes are bad" mentality that began shifting money from the middle class to the very rich. The "trickle down" theory was a complete hoax. And we now pay the price, with income inequality not seen since the Gilded Age or right before the crash of '29.

Arts and culture in Europe and many other places across the developed world receive generous subsidies from government, and they thrive. By thriving, they make better societies for their citizens and more desirable tourist destinations. Just look at some of the statistics in the Harvard study and you can see that life is better in Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Italy, etc.

San Diego is experiencing the same decline as other cities, but we have an especially uninspired Mayor and leadership now, to go along with the historic anti-tax-of-any-kind mentality. So we have crumbling infrastructure and yet can entertain subsidizing the Spanos family--the worst kind of corporate welfare--while the opera, theater, museums, and the other highest aspirations of our culture struggle to survive. If we had a reasonable tax base, even at the rates we had during the Clinton years, we could do a lot more for infrastructure, maintenance, etc., as well as education and arts and culture. But the powerful still hold sway: greed is good, and people still think capitalism works. Even in the face of all evidence that it is NOT working very well...


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 2:56 p.m.

Anon92067: I agree completely with most of what you say. I doubt if anybody has inveighed against corporate welfare -- especially pro sports welfare -- more persistently and loudly than I have. I picked up the beat in 1996 and fought a helluva lot of internal battles at the U-T until 2003 when I retired and joined the Reader. The Reader has encouraged me to fight against corporate welfare.

I appreciate what you say about European countries. Although most are in worse shape financially than the U.S., they continue to subsidize the arts. However, there is a movement in Europe to cut back on such subsidies.

But I would like to turn your argument around. Yes, the income and wealth disparity in the U.S. is horrible. Again, few have complained about that more loudly than I have through the years. But the concentration of wealth at the top 1% to 5% should mean that the superrich can use that money to support the arts. They are not doing so, as the column points out. That is deplorable and, unfortunately, suggests that the superrich today have more pedestrian tastes than did the Robber Barons of 100 to 150 years ago. Still, they are the ones who should be footing the bill for entertainment that is enjoyed by a small fraction of the population. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 23, 2014 @ 3:27 p.m.

Don, you raise an interesting question, and that is just what the super-rich actually do with all that lucre. In the Gilded Age they spent lavishly (too weak a word) on homes on Park and Fifth Avenues in NYC, summer "cottages" at Newport (gigantic mansions in their own right), and on very costly and drawn-out world tours. They were showing it off. Does Buffett show off? How about Gates? Ellison? Oprah? I suppose they do, but not in the way it was done a century ago.

One thing they could do is support the arts and education in a really big way. Most of them don't do that. So, what's the purpose of amassing all that wealth? If we could figure that out, WE could get rich.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 6:04 p.m.

Visduh: On the other hand, look what Carnegie did for libraries. Many Robber Barons bought art that eventually was donated to art museums. The Frick, former home of Henry Clay Frick, is now a museum in New York City containing some of the world's greatest paintings.

Buffett and Gates are giving money away, but seem to be most interested in world health. I hate to say it, but the Koch brothers do support the arts. I don't know why classical music gets the short end of the stick. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 23, 2014 @ 4:06 p.m.

I believe deeply that one of the biggest problems we have is our deteriorating educational system, and even the very rich are generally not that well educated--as you say, they have very pedestrian tastes. And publicly-funded education as it was originally envisioned in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is what is needed--not "elite" education that only the rich can afford.

But it is the overall "social progress" that has sunk so low--Look at this analysis from the Social Progress Index: http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi/components/com5#performance/countries/com4/spi,com1,com2,com3,com4,com6,com7,com8,com9,com10,com11,com12

While boosters like to think of the USA as #1 in all things, the truth is very different. And while Europe may have financial challenges, these statistics reveal that the quality of life for their citizens is generally far superior to ours. High taxes that support a high quality of life is something that the U.S. understood in the past--but in the wake of Reaganomics, and then the disaster of Bush and his endless wars paid for on credit, we are now in terrible shape.

No wonder something like the Opera can sink--the top 1 percenters, though they have raked in huge sums in recent years, are not increasing their giving--not to the arts or to anything else. Middle class and poor Americans give a far higher percentage of their income to charity than the very rich.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 6:14 p.m.

Anon92067: I agree that the deterioration of our educational system is at the heart of the decline in culture. That is certainly true of opera and other forms of classical music. San Diego, in particular, suffers from the decline of education.

As has been discussed quite often on this blog, the culture of greed is eating away at the U.S. So many people spend full-time dreaming of ways to accumulate wealth, and then to dodge taxes. The government does not crack down on obvious violations -- such as stashing money in offshore banks -- of our laws. Cynicism grows and grows. People pursue wealth for wealth's sake. Who cares about culture? Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 23, 2014 @ 9:23 p.m.

Don, there is a major effort underway to crack down on offshore banks, and it has reached a point where the Swiss, renowned for their bank secrecy, have caved on the matter. The DOJ is going after all the other banking havens, and even those depositors who closed their accounts in such banks years ago are being reported. Many, many people residing in the US are making deals with the IRS to avoid total confiscation of their deposits and jail. The program is called Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. As long as you contact the IRS before they contact you, it is possible to avoid total disaster. Anyone in such a situation needs a good tax attorney with some experience with OVDP. They don't come cheaply, but the cost is better than a jail sentence. All the while, the IRS is raking in millions and millions from those who thought the banks would never reveal their secret accounts.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 7:10 a.m.

Visduh: Yes, the U.S. is finally cracking down on the stashing of wealth offshore. We are one of the last major countries to do so. When Phil Gramm was in the Senate, he fought every effort to stop the flow of the affluent's bucks to offshore accounts.

Trouble is, though, we fight it by giving the stashers amnesty if they report themselves. We should have a program that throws the stashers in prison.

We lowered income taxes on the rich to ridiculous levels. And they still attempted to conceal income offshore. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 24, 2014 @ 8:44 p.m.

Many of the stashers are now elderly, and while they probably knew of the tax burden they were avoiding, didn't see it as particularly morally wrong. These deals usually cost about half of the account value, often more. That seems fairly severe, and it is bringing in massive revenue to the treasury. The more egregious cases are getting hit harder.


Anon92067 April 24, 2014 @ 9:19 p.m.

100% agreed, Don! Ah, if only the powers that be would listen to you! But at least you are out there blogging and investigating and searching for the truth. It is such a travesty to see the way the U-T has devolved to such a worthless rag. I do hope that young journalists out there are looking to you as a role model instead of to Manchester and his henchmen... thanks very much for all that you do, Don.


expdx April 23, 2014 @ 10:52 a.m.

Don: Having lived in San Diego and experienced neighborhoods from Golden Hill to La Jolla I must say that I truly don't get it. Supposedly San Diego is populated by highly educated folk, from Qualcomm to UCSD: But what is their influence? During the James Copley era there were more registered democrats than republicans in San Diego County, but the right always won. During the tenure of the Mafia Don-like Spanos organization a gas bag of a municipal system has rewarded the rich (As always). Yet, no organized force has consistently stood for openness and fairness in the financial affairs of government. (Does the old Naval Training Center give away ring a bell?). It appears that every functioning brain gets addled by the sun and sea...the brain cells never get exercised when it comes to local citizen involvement. (Don, you moved to Colorado for the fresh air, didn't you?). So it is not surprising that locals don't support the arts. Skulls full of flatulent platitudes to the rich do not make for much of a city. San Diego City civics are a joke, led by rich old bastards that connive to keep the games going. If the fat lady quits singing the only sound left will be the pumping of noxious fumes by the "Leaders" into the balloon of their creation. Like Sisyphus it will soon get too high...well you know the rest. Enjoy the sun.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 12:37 p.m.

expdx: Yours is an intelligent analysis. For decades, San Diego has been run by the corporate welfare crowd, which, ironically enough, denounces welfare -- but only welfare for the needy. Not welfare for the rich.

I'm not sure there were more registered Democrats than Republicans when Jim Copley was alive. Remember, he died in 1973. I thought the Democrats began to outnumber Republicans in the city only a few years ago. The county is about split, with the Republicans in a very slight lead.

You are right. Filner won the election on a platform of revitalizing the infrastructure and neighborhoods, and stemming the flood of subsidy money going to the wealthy. But the corporate welfare folks drove out Filner (who was beginning to cave in when he first got in trouble.) Faulconer is just a puppet on the corporate welfare group's string. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 23, 2014 @ 11 a.m.

This is precisely what you, Don, and many others predicted would be the result of his election. I don't think it would a mis-characterization of his actions to say that he "couldn't wait" to start the payoffs. So, for me this is not the tiniest bit surprising. What would have been surprising was if he didn't start down this road almost immediately.

But, I don't believe things would have been all that much different under a Fletcher administration. He was bought and paid for by a different billionaire, And you know how those rich people stick together. Alvarez would not have shown the enthusiasm for it that Faulconer does, but I think that in the final analysis, he would have been pushing for a stadium subsidy.

Yes, for relative pennies, the city could help the opera, and many other arts groups. But the die-hard votes aren't there, and the affluent arts lovers tend to just give their own money, and expect nothing from the state, city, or county.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 12:45 p.m.

Visduh: Right you are. There is no surprise here. Faulconer is a tool of the corporate welfare crowd. It runs the city even though it lost in the election of Filner. I think Fletcher and Alvarez would have caved in, too. Filner, who clearly does not believe in corporate welfare, especially when the city has so many needs, was beginning to cave late in his incumbency. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK April 23, 2014 @ 1:10 p.m.

get him to grope a few grannies so we can get rid of him, ( and keep him from groping the tax payers)


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 3 p.m.

Murphyjunk: Frankly, I am not sure how many females Filner ever groped -- some, perhaps, and that was deplorable. But the whole episode was blown far out of proportion because the corporate welfare crowd was manipulating local media. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 23, 2014 @ 2:53 p.m.

Filner's verbal capitulation was during his "end days" as I recall, and may have been done, if not under duress, at least under high stress.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 3:05 p.m.

Visduh: You are right. When he was threatened, he came out in favor of the expansion of the convention center. That was a mistake, and I am sure he knew it. He is smart enough to know that convention centers are vastly overbuilt, and centers, including San Diego's, are cutting prices 50% because of the glut. But, as you point, he was grasping for anything because he knew he could get ousted.

Fabiani said that Filner was willing to talk about a stadium for the Chargers. Consider the source. Filner may have been playing the Chargers along. Or maybe it never happened. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill April 23, 2014 @ 1:26 p.m.

Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs) just turned 100 today...


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 3:09 p.m.

ImJustABill: Yes, but most pro sports owners think that when a stadium or arena hits 20 or 30 years of age, taxpayers have to ante up for another one. The football stadiums that the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin play in are about a century old, too, and are perfectly serviceable. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel April 23, 2014 @ 9:08 p.m.

But don't forget that about 5 years ago, Michigan spent about $250 million on a renovation to their stadium, which I believe is somewhere around 80-85yrs old. The stadium that Wisconsin plays in has been renovated probably at least a dozen times since it opened. I think there was one about 10 yrs ago that cost over $100 million and sometime in the last couple of yrs, there another $75 million or so spent on upgrading the scoreboard and audio system. So It's not as if either of these stadiums has remained "perfectly serviceable" without alot of money being spent on them. As for Wrigley, the Ricketts clan has been pretty vocal about the fact they want a renovation at Wrigley, to the tune of $500 million.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 6:45 a.m.

danfogel: Oh yes, both stadiums have been renovated. No question. In a number of college stadiums, the renovations have been in the adding of luxury seats and boxes, including luxury facilities for the press. My guess is that students and most in the grandstands sit in hard seats the way they did a century ago.

And if they are sitting there for only three hours, is that much of an imposition? Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill April 23, 2014 @ 9:13 p.m.

The Rose Bowl is really old too. It must be around a century old. I go there at least once a year for a UCLA game.

When a new professional stadium gets built now-adays they basically sock it to the working class twice - once to get taxes to pay for a new stadium, then a 2nd time when the new stadium has more expensive seats (but plenty of luxury seat and suites for big corporations and wealthy patrons).


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 6:51 a.m.

ImJustABill: I only went to the Rose Bowl for a game once. Vision is terrible, particularly if people start standing up. The place is dangerous. The entrances and exits are extremely narrow. If there were a rumbling of an earthquake, hundreds of people would be trampled in those narrow exits, or simply heading for them. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel April 24, 2014 @ 10:42 a.m.

Don Bauder, The Rose Bowl is an absolutely wonderful venue. We went to 4 of the 5 Super Bowls played there, soccer for the Olympics, Women's World Cup, and Galaxy games, many concerts, many college games, including a couple of Rose Bowls, and probably a bunch of other events if I took the tome to think about it. And that was before the $170 million or so recently completed renovations, including new restrooms, new concession areas, widening of existing tunnels used to access the stadium bowl, new seating, new LED boards, new entrance gates, subterranean field lounges, new concourse lounges, improved signage and landscaping, to list just a few. I'm sure that the fact that Sports Illustrated listed the Rose Bowl as the number one venue in college sports would be totally lost on you. As I said, it's a wonderful venue. I would much rather watch an event there than at the Murph. Coincidentally, the firm overseeing the reno was the same one that did the reno at Michigan Stadium


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 5:49 p.m.

danfogel: You love it and I hate it. That's what makes markets. But what I consider important is that it was built in 1923 -- one more example of a stadium not having to be retired after 20 years. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel April 24, 2014 @ 7:15 p.m.

I wouldn't think that one instance would be ab adequate sampling, especially if it was a decade or more ago, but to each their own. What's different about the Rose Bowl though, is that it was built specifically for 1 game, the Rose Bowl. It wasn't built with any other purpose in mind and though it has held 5 Super Bowls and UCLA has called it their home field since the early 80's, I doubt back when it was being designed, anyone could have imagined the many events that have occurred there. But 6 or 7 renovations later, and at least one more scheduled to be done by 2018, it is a great place to watch an event. Consider this though. What are the chances that in this day and age, anyone could get funding, either public or private, to build a stadium that was meant to be used for one single event per year???


Visduh April 24, 2014 @ 8:30 p.m.

You may be correct in your belief that the Rose Bowl was intended to be used only once a year. But that seems very hard to accept. For many years the local residents in the area were making sure they didn't have the disruption and noise of games very often. There is too little parking there, and too much of it is on the golf course. They still don't have games there all that often, but the area around the bowl has swap meets now. Just how this has evolved over the past 90 years isn't clear, but it is not in an accessible area, and has parking problems that are legendary.


danfogel April 24, 2014 @ 9:38 p.m.

Visduh, it's not my "belief" that the Rose Bowl was originally intended to be used once a year. It's just the way it was. The Tournament of Roses started back in the late 1800's. It was being held at Tournament Park, hence the name. Sometime after the turn of the century, someone had the idea to include a football game as part of the festivities to draw more interest and spectators. The stadium came about because the city declared Tournament Park unsafe for the crowds that were estimated at 40,000. It was financed by selling 10 year box seats for $100. Regular games started when UCLA moved in in the early 80's. The Rose Bowl Flea Market & Swap Meet has been around for almost 50 yrs and is held on the 2nd Sunday of the month.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 8:50 p.m.

danfogel: Yes, it was more than a decade ago when I went to a game at the Rose Bowl. I think it was 2000. So I have missed any changes since then.

I would certainly hope that taxpayers these days would not build a stadium meant for only one game, but nothing would surprise me. Today, a stadium has to have huge screens on which each play is shown, and scoreboards that are electronic wonders, and luxury boxes and seats, and upscale restaurants....oh, forget it. I am getting sick. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill April 24, 2014 @ 6:23 p.m.

And the Rose Bowl is definitely unparallelled (in So. Cal at least) for tailgating.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 8:53 p.m.

ImJustABill: I don't know. The time I went we must have walked two miles to get to the stadium. Parking was that bad. I know the Pasadena residents who live near the Rose Bowl do not want it used for a professional team for that very reason: parking. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel April 24, 2014 @ 10:14 p.m.

It's doubtful that an NFL team will ever play it's home games, even on a temp basis, at the Rose Bowl, though I have had a couple of people tell me that certain members of the city have talked about bidding for a Super Bowl, now that most of the renovations are complete. If you walked 2 miles after parking your car, where the hell did you park?? When my wife and I used to go to see Arizona-UCLA games, we would stay in Old Pasadena and it was literally a 2 mile cab ride from there. But you are right that parking is terrible if you live around the Rose Bowl. But that being said, anyone who owns a house in the area of the stadium knew it was there when they bought. Pasadena has an interesting model for scheduling at the Rose Bowl. By city ordinance, there is a limit of 12 large events allowed at the Stadium. Prior to a change in the ordinance a couple of years ago it was 6. The city council has to approve any additional events and a summer concert with Jay-Z and Beyonce that was just approved brings it up to 18 so far.


ImJustABill April 25, 2014 @ 9:04 p.m.

Yes I'm sure I would be strongly opposed to it's use by a professional team if I lived there. It ties up all the surface streets and freeways near the area for a couple of hours before and after a big game. And I don't know how anyone manages to play golf there after a football game. But as a place to grill some food, have a couple beers, maybe throw a football around before a game - it's really been a fun experience for me as a fan.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 3:11 p.m.

shirleyberan: Corporate welfare and CEO salaries are definitely nauseating. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 23, 2014 @ 3:01 p.m.

The Slum Stadium plan might get laughed away if we keep our sense of humor. Remember they're trying to build an unneeded and ugly Convention Center expansion with the same money. The two crooked schemes will have to battle before the atrocity is built, and the plan must be presented in some detail. I'm confident it will be Ryan Leaf stupid and beatable.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 3:12 p.m.

Psycholizard: I hope you are right, but look how much Ryan Leaf was paid before it was clear he was a bust. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 23, 2014 @ 5:11 p.m.

What I really do not understand about this proposal for the Chargers' stadium close to Petco is the parking problem. It is already a challenge to find parking, If I understand the proposal, the stadium would be built where there are now parking lots. So where will all the baseball fans and football fans park? I do not think it is feasible for people to take public transit from all the suburban areas to these stadiums. Am I missing something?

From that very basic question, then there is the debt. Would the city of San Diego be on the hook for the whole thing? The county? Who would get to OK it? If one entity (such as the city) OK's it, would the other (such as the county) be forced to pay for it?

$700 million and counting, right? Bond issue for the next 75 years? What would the most practical plan for this--or the least offensive plan? And how would the real needs of the city be addressed?


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 6:20 p.m.

eastlaker: The real needs of the city have not been addressed for decades, while corporate welfare has steered all the money downtown, enriching those who are already rich. The infrastructure deficit is more than a billion dollars. This forces Faulconer to say he will do something about the infrastructure. But if he approves a massive subsidy for the Chargers, the infrastructure spending will be inadequate. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill April 24, 2014 @ 6:26 a.m.

I think the parking and traffic problems really haven't been that bad. To me the issue is really what's an appropriate use of public money. I don't think public funds should heavily subsidize an industry which provides few middle class jobs.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 6:55 a.m.

ImJustABill: I have heard a lot of complaints about parking and traffic, but you may be right. Qualcomm is ideally located. The ballpark isn't.

You are right: public funds should not be provided for an industry that provides few jobs for the middle class -- in fact, provides a net gain of zero, because hamburger flippers just move over from another facility. But these stadia subsidize billionaire owners and millionaire players. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 23, 2014 @ 4:30 p.m.

The Chargers might blow any amount of money on a loser. Architects celebrate this as we speak. Every Charger proposal, and I lose count, has been laughed away. Ready the slide whistles and whoopee cushions.


Don Bauder April 23, 2014 @ 6:24 p.m.

Psycholizard: You are correct. So many of those Chargers stadium proposals have been hastily drawn up, and laughable. The team wants a vote in two years. Presumably it will have time to come up with something that is not embarrassing. But don't count on it. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 23, 2014 @ 11:12 p.m.

eastlaker - parking is #[email protected]&%. Don - Baseball was real in Fashion valley at the stadium I went to as a kid, not professional drinking or spending contests. Field of dreams should be a new league somewhere without the hype and prices; less of a circus. Football can stay in Mission valley, yeah remodel, lots of parking, nice ambiance, but even more drinkers faking they care about athletics than baseball, farceathletics. And somebody wants that prime missionvalleystadium property for mall-condo-millions that used to be a beautiful valley, and waits to be ruined just like everywhere else that won't be preserved due to a lack of environmental concern. The Opera is the epitome of high-class-carelessness here, "non- profit" more reprehensible, or any cash-cow criminal activity, but they won't pay back what they owe, judges allow it as capitalist fairplay.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 7 a.m.

shirleyberan: There is absolutely nothing capitalistic about pro sports. It is the most socialistic activity in the U.S. The team owners -- mostly billionaires in the NFL-- don't put up much of their own capital, and really don't take risks. The public takes the risk. These subsidized stadia are a case of privatization of the gain and socialization of the risk.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 7:23 a.m.

Ken K. Liu: You are right. The number of comments on various stories show the pedestrian tastes of U-T readers. This is not a surprise. Particularly since Manchester took over, the U-T has gone after the redneck market with its embarrassingly uninformed editorials and news stories that are obviously slanted to keep the money flowing to the downtown corporate welfare crowd. I believe that is one reason for the newspaper's financial troubles. It's trying to hit a market that is sinking in numbers. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 7:26 a.m.

Jay Berman: Now that Super Bowls are being played in frigid climes, San Diego will very seldom get them. And that's no loss. One of the biggest lies being tossed around today is the NFL's claim that Super Bowls bring $350 million or more to the host city. It's about one-tenth of that, according to economists who have studied the matter. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill April 24, 2014 @ 1:31 p.m.

If Buffalo or Green Bay gets a new outdoor stadium it would be interesting to see if the Super Bowl goes there.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 5:52 p.m.

ImJustABill: Buffalo or Green Bay in February? Puh-leeeeeze. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 24, 2014 @ 8:56 a.m.

May I summarize, just to see if I am getting all this: so you think much of what is going on with regard to the convention center plans, the talk of hosting the Olympics in 2024 and the new football stadium is really to benefit the hoteliers, and provide opportunities for "heads in beds"?

At any cost?

With little to no regard for the overabundance of convention space, and absolutely no regard for those who will be footing the bill for the next 75 years?

How could all this be handled by people who can't put together a birthday celebration for Balboa Park? Who have run out of steam one year shy of the SD Opera's 50th Celebration?

It looks like the lights may be on in San Diego, but NO ONE IS HOME!!!

Leadership by the greedy and small-minded is just not going to work.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 9:52 a.m.

eastlaker: I agree with everything you say, with some exceptions. First, it's not just the hoteliers who benefit from corporate welfare. For example, the hotels get very little business from a subsidized stadium or ballpark. The construction industry benefits from the corporate welfare -- and so do the construction unions and several other unions. The combination of the construction industry and the unions is almost a politically unstoppable juggernaut.

The business community thinks it benefits from subsidized stadiums, because the city is put on the map, so to speak. But Los Angeles has not had a pro football team for almost two decades and it is still on the map. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 24, 2014 @ 9:50 a.m.

New motto for San Diego: Small Minds Thinking Big!

I know San Diego can do better, and be better than that.

With groups of people who really do tackle problems and challenges in certain areas, such as Carol Lazier working to ensure the SD Opera continues, San Diego has a chance to keep what is best and improve the rest.

By the way, can anyone explain to me why someone gets a salary of $13,000/month to oversee the shutting down of the Balboa Park Centennial Committee? Doesn't that seem ridiculous any way you look at it?


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 9:58 a.m.

eastlaker: Yes, hurray for Carol Lazier and her husband, but the board better get a three-year or five-year plan online, so that members will have something to go on when they vote Monday.

In re the shutting down of the centennial committee: they were paid a similar amount even though they did nothing; now they are getting the same big bucks to close down what they did not accomplish. It only makes sense if you are in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 10 a.m.

Gloria Smestad: When Manchester came in, he boosted sports coverage considerably. So it does make sense that a sports story gets more reader response. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 24, 2014 @ 2:11 p.m.

The Stadium move is so Idiotic perhaps we should endorse the Convention Center Expansion to throw the construction companies a bone. Just toss in a venue to replace the Flight Path Theater in Balboa Park. It could support local arts and local arts could help the convention business. I support public works projects, especially roads and water, but the Proposed Stadium is Ryan Leaf stupid.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 6:05 p.m.

Psycholizard: Agreed. Subsidization of a football stadium for the billionaire Spanos family is absurd. John Moores got away with murder. The city sold him ballpark district land at early 1990s prices. He sold it to developers and raked in $700 million to $1 billion and rode off to Texas, laughing all the way.

One thing to keep in mind. The Chargers will claim that they are putting $X millions into the stadium. But a huge percentage of those $X millions will be naming rights, advertising rights, and the like. Why shouldn't those rights go to the city? They should, but won't. So the Spanos family will be plunking in little. That gimmick was used in the ballpark deal, too: the team claimed the naming and ad rights that should have gone to the city. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 25, 2014 @ 12:26 a.m.

Worse than naming rights, I expect them to propose selling the current stadium site to Spanos at a lowball figure.


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 6:09 p.m.

MEMBERS PROBABLY WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE A LONG-TERM PLAN WHEN THEY VOTE MONDAY. BUT THEY SHOULD SEE A PLAN FOR THE 2015 SEASON. When members vote Monday, they will almost certainly not have a long-term (say, 5-year) survival plan in front of them. They should be able to see a plan for the 2015 season. Possibly one reason that the Campbells and Faye Wilson waited until the last minute to spring the dissolution vote on the board is that they didn't want to give opposition any time to put together a long-term plan. Best, Don Bauder


Vissidarte April 24, 2014 @ 9:18 p.m.

Why didn't Carol Lazier fire the Campbells immediately? Their key backers on the board are gone, they have absolutely no support among the staff, public or donors. Therefore they are now totally ineffective; a pair of crippled ducks. A key aspect of a successful turnaround is immediate and decisive actions that get rid of all impediments to success and causes of the original problem. This sends a message to all there is no going back and there is a new sheriff in town. No time for normal friendly discussions, which is part of the problem here where close friendships have interfered with fiduciary duties. The board must act very differently to assure the public that it will not be a 55-member rubber stamp anymore. Especially in this case when there is an emergency with the deadlines coming up. Knowing what we know, there are plenty grounds to fire Campbell for cause. Is there more intrigue afoot or Lazier doesn't have the experience and toughness to clean house quickly?


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 10:38 p.m.

Vissidarte: See the entry below. I have it on excellent authority that the Campbells are on administrative leave. An alternative would have been to fire them. I think a case could be made to fire them for cause, although I am no expert in personnel law. But if they do not want the opera to continue, and if potential donors won't give if the Campbells remain in place, something like this has to happen. They are of no use to the company if they don't want to run it.

The board is already about half the size of what it was because of the resignations. One problem is that a lot of people who resigned were big donors. So the new board will have to broaden its appeal quickly.

The board must bring in a new general director who will probably have to serve as artistic director as well. My guess is that there are plenty of people out there who are qualified for the job, and would love to take a turnaround situation.

I think Carol Lazier and her husband James Merritt have the toughness. So do others on that board. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 9:48 p.m.

IAN AND ANN CAMPBELL REPORTEDLY ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVES. SAN DIEGO OPERA MAY PUT ON THREE OPERAS IN 2015, AND, TENTATIVELY, DO OPERA RECITALS IN 2016. This is now a rumor, but it is from an excellent source. Ian Campbell, executive director of the opera, and his ex-wife Ann Spira Campbell, second in command, have gone on administrative leave. I have calls out to officials to get confirmation. This is the kind of rumor worth printing, because it is quite believable and comes from an excellent source -- and, indeed, there are few other avenues for the Campbells since they do not want the opera to continue, and the majority of the board does.

A second rumor is that the company plans to put on three operas next year. I do not know how many performances of each opera are planned, and how many will be put on in the Civic Theater.

A third rumor is that the company tentatively will put on programs of operatic arias in 2016. This makes sense, since the company will have to see how 2015 goes before it can make major commitments for 2016.

I will update if I get more. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 24, 2014 @ 11:47 p.m.

SAN DIEGO OPERA MAY GO AHEAD WITH LA BOHEME, DON GIOVANNI AND NIXON IN CHINA FOR 2015. WAGNER'S TANNHAUSER, WHICH WAS TO BE DONE IN 2015, MAY BE DONE ORATORIO-STYLE BECAUSE OF EXPENSE. More very credible rumors from San Diego Opera: the three operas they would like to do next year are La Boheme, Don Giovanni and Nixon in China, for which they have singers are already under contract. However, they will use conventional sets and costumes for Boheme and Giovanni, rather than unconventional ones that had been planned by Campbell to hold down costs. Wagner's Tannhauser, which is expensive, could be done oratorio-style -- no sets and costumes, using the same singers under contract.

Going ahead with Nixon in China is a puzzler. It is a modern opera and would probably not be a good draw.


Visduh April 25, 2014 @ 7:57 a.m.

"Nixon in China" would be an edgy name for a rock band. As a name and theme for an opera, it is beyond bizarre.


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 1:10 p.m.

Visduh: It's a pretty bad opera, too. We saw it once. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 25, 2014 @ 1:46 p.m.

Can we trade "Nixon In China" for an opera to be named later?


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 2:52 p.m.

eastlaker: Ian Campbell admitted in my presence that he went too heavy on modern opera when he launched the program in the early 1990s, responding to a grant to companies putting on modern operas. Modern opera simply did NOT draw audiences in San Diego. It baffles me that he selected Nixon in China for 2014 when he supposedly knew how bad the financial situation was.

To me, a lot of evidence suggests that the Campbells were planning this abrupt killing of the opera for months -- and maybe longer than that. I suspect that the abruptness strategy was chosen to attempt to make sure that people who disagreed would not have time to try to save the company. Best, Don Bauder


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