Taxpayer-Financed Stadiums Bring "Municipal Woes," says NY Times

The main problem is that fans -- especially those from the suburb cities -- see a lovely new stadium and wonder why it took San Diego so long to build it. There's no doubt that PetFood Park is lovely, but that's not the issue. Was the old stadium adequate (yes) and did the public coffers have enough discretionary funds to build a new stadium where one was not needed (not a snowball's chance in hell). New Jersey's experience with new arenas is so messed up that next season they will charge fans a rather hefty tax so that -- this is true -- the Nets can be bribed to move to the Pru Center in Newark, which will allow the arena at the Meadowlands to be used exclusively for concerts (which make a much larger profits than a last-place NBA team). The Pru Center in Newark is actually very nice, but when it's not hosting sparsely attended N.J. Devils hockey games, it's home to such NCAA basketball powerhouses as The New Jersey Institute of Technology. At least the city of Newark didn't get stuck with the whole construction tab. Consider what San Diego is stuck with: Jack Murphy Stadium (unless someone pays me to call it Qualcomm, I won't) gets used roughly 30 times a year for NFL and college games, not nearly enough to be considered a steady place of employment for most concessionaires. PetFood Park is used about 90 times a year, also not enough to be considered a source of steady employment. Even if taken together, that's barely 50% of full-time employment and (except for the players and senior team staff) they are all low-wage jobs. Where, exactly, is the city's financial return? At least when the Dodgers were handed Chavez Ravine on a platter there was no question of the city recouping any money. Dodger Stadium was a way for the city and county of Los Angeles to stake a claim as a major city by drawing a ballclub from New York City. No one pretended otherwise. San Diego already has the teams, and it's exceedingly doubtful that anyone is going to move to L.A. in protest if the Chargers decamp to the bucolic City of Industry. So what's the excuse for such blatant corporate welfare? We know that no city official will ever admit that PetFood Park is hemorrhaging money and demand larger rent from the Padres, and the Union-Tribune will never tally the losses. But will no one stand up to the Chargers?
— December 28, 2009 8:01 p.m.

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