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The Union-Tribune is up to its old tricks. On today's front page (July 14) is a rave review, claiming that Petco Park has returned far more on the investment than expected. The study was done by a firm that specializes in sports consulting. I have not had a chance to read the study yet, and probably won't for awhile. But there is one thing that stands out about the Union-Tribune's coverage of the story: it devotes four paragraphs to the opinions of sports economist Mark Rosentraub of the University of Michigan, who is enthusiastic about the purported results. But the U-T story does not state that Mark Rosentraub was a paid consultant in the development of the ballpark and surrounding real estate. This information could have been culled from the pages of the U-T. Rosentraub calls the Petco project "a model of how you can use a stadium to rebuild an entire neighborhood." The last time I talked with him, for a Reader column that ran Aug. 26 of last year, he was raving about all the buildings (condos, hotels) that have been built in the ballpark district. I told him those condos had very few residents and the hotels had very few guests. He had no response.

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David Dodd July 14, 2010 @ 10:42 a.m.

I read that article as well, it smells funny. How can they claim such growth in this economy? You know, I have always been a proponent that felt that, in all likelyhood, ultimately Petco will become a successful project, but it's difficult not to be completely skeptical of such a study in this period of complete non-growth. Had the bubble not burst? Maybe. But certainly not at the moment, I would hope that people aren't drinking that batch of Kool-aid. Yes, the Gaslamp certainly benefits in the summer months from the location of the ballpark, but it can also be argued that the money would've been spent elsewhere in the city anyway had Petco never been built.

It makes my optimism about it look pretty bad. And, it reeks of an attempt to justify a football stadium that will never, ever benefit the financial health of San Diego.


Don Bauder July 14, 2010 @ 12:17 p.m.

Response to post #1: I don't think Petco will ever be declared a financial success. All these purported capitalists who pushed for, and received, the $300 million subsidy claimed they believed in the free market. But those condos and hotels were built with no regard for whether there was a market for them. They are a disaster -- and they have been subsidized. They are a net drag on the City, along with the ballpark itself. I don't believe the Gaslamp is benefitting from the propinquity of Petco. The people who go to games seldom have a dinner first. And they hog the parking places. There is a reason why attendance is poor despite the team being very good. It's probably the neighborhood, the expense, the inconvenience of parking and transportation, and possibly (I'm no expert on this) the fans not wanting to see all these pitching duels in a pitcher-friendly park. All of us who opposed the ballpark project agreed that the area that is now the ballpark district would flourish some day -- when the market was right. But those so-called capitalists didn't care about market signals. Best, Don Bauder


Shadow July 14, 2010 @ 4:47 p.m.

Would that we could invest in the parking lot biz... I paid 30 bucks two years ago to park in a downtown lot on a game night, and that was to visit a restaurant near Fourth Avenue, not a ball game. Now I check the game schedule before heading downtown. Ride the bus? Only if I want to take three buses. Home games generally mean avoid the Gaslamp. Who loses? The restaurants, as Don has pointed out.


David Dodd July 14, 2010 @ 6:12 p.m.

The bars win. It's difficult for me to argue with Don about the stadium because his points all have merit and are well-thought-out. But the bars have done a great deal of business, before, during, and after the games.

For my money, no one with an ounce of sense eats in the Gaslamp anyway. Overpriced crappy food in comparison to what one can get in other locations. But the microbrews in the Gaslamp are awesome. No, it doesn't make up for the U-T article, which as I pointed out, just reeks of some hidden (or maybe obvious?) agenda. But I do offer that many bars have had much success since Petco opened.

And Shadow, take the trolley, it really is a bargain, I would never park downtown.


Don Bauder July 14, 2010 @ 7:11 p.m.

Response to post #3: Back in 1998 when some of us were fighting the ballpark giveaway, Gaslamp restaurateurs backed it. I told them they were crazy. Some are having second thoughts now. The arts community backed the ballpark, too. I would hope its members have second thoughts. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 14, 2010 @ 7:14 p.m.

Response to post #4: In the Gaslamp, it looks like a melee: the bars versus the restaurants -- rather like the ranchers versus the cowboys in the old West. Best, Don Bauder


Sportsbook July 15, 2010 @ 12:21 a.m.

well, considering what's done is done ( Petco-wise ) I say BUILD A FOOTBALL STADIUM TOO!!!!!! What an amazing downtown we would have! What a great place for a Superbowl!!!!

Ok, I am biased though. I love the NFL and the Chargers and have nothing against the Spanos.


SurfPuppy619 July 15, 2010 @ 12:27 a.m.

well, considering what's done is done ( Petco-wise ) I say BUILD A FOOTBALL STADIUM TOO!!!!!! What an amazing downtown we would have! What a great place for a Superbowl!!!!

No problemo, YOU PAY FOR IT. Or get your billionaire buddy Spanos to.

Sounds like a plan to me.


underground July 15, 2010 @ 1:34 a.m.

The report is junk. Has anyone noticed how we have been getting bombarded with these committee reports, economic special reports - oh I forgot the elections over, time to relentlessly hit the public over the head with our (plans).

The CCDC / City have spent 2 billion plus of diverted tax revenue "redeveloping downtown" by taking it from other neighborhoods and communities for this return on investment? Where is the infrastructure, the parks, fire stations, schools, day cares for young families’ downtown? Fred Maas? Crickets.

Last I had read was over 2 billion in "transactions" building, leases, condo purchases ect had occurred within the ballpark/east village redevelopment area.

Who do you think got his cut and made a killing? He is in Texas and he has a nice little realty group call JMI, of course, our friend John Moores.

Peregrine, Valerie Stallings - the guy has nine lives, minus one wife.


JustWondering July 15, 2010 @ 6:56 a.m.

Wow the U/T has pulled out all the stops once again, first this joke a report filled with fraudulent omissions, then today, a SDUT editorial propping up the fraud.

This time, lets us guilt; the Chargers have been such great neighbors since 1961, we should be loyal to them and build them a new home. Hey wait a second, we built them a new home in 1997, it's called Charger Park. The City gave them the land and built them house too. We spent, oops we're still paying the mortgage on the 78 million we paid in 1997.

So all I want to know is how the U/T went from news gathering organization to football/building developer pimp?


Don Bauder July 15, 2010 @ 7:05 a.m.

Response to post #7: Your name, "Sportsbook," suggests that your predilections are exactly what you say they are. Just keep in mind that there are many San Diegans who believe that libraries, infrastructure and maintenance, the arts, clean water, sewage service, etc. are more important than football, particularly since the city is broke. You probably don't know any of those people. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 15, 2010 @ 7:09 a.m.

Response to post #9: It has been estimated that John Moores took $700 million to $1 billion out of the ballpark district deals, in which he was given land at extremely low prices. He has denied he made that much. He also sold $650 million of Peregrine stock before it collapsed in scandal, $487 million during the period in which the books were cooked. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 15, 2010 @ 7:20 a.m.

Response to post #10: Yes, the U-T reverted to "pimping," as you describe it, in that story that was played as a front page banner. I finally have a copy of the so-called study, but haven't yet studied it. I will do so today. I have read enough to know generally what is in it: propaganda. Anybody who has followed sports economics should know that the so-called consulting firms that serve professional sports teams come up with exactly the result they are paid to come up with. This study by the Texas firm should have been ignored, at at least buried. The U-T followed up today with even more propaganda on its editorial page. The U-T appears to be even more of a propaganda sheet now than it was under the Copley regime. You simply can't believe what you read -- in news or editorials -- when the establishment's desires (football stadium for Chargers, convention center expansion, new city hall complex, downtown library) are under discussion. And keep in mind what you DON"T read: sufficient information on the City's grim financial situation. Best, Don Bauder


paul July 15, 2010 @ 9:22 a.m.

"So all I want to know is how the U/T went from news gathering organization to football/building developer pimp?"


I believe that died when Don left, although it was on life support for years prior to that.

What I want to know is why Spanos or Moores didn't just buy the paper outright to be their mouthpiece since it was basically given away.


Richard_Rider July 15, 2010 @ 9:31 a.m.

This is a bogus study, from a group that quite likely is PAID to provide bogus studies. If I get the time, I'll later run through some of the fatuous assumptions they used to reach their fatuous conclusions.

This preordained result "consulting" is standard practice in politics. We've seen this with compromised actuaries providing skewed data to help approve unsustainable pension plans, or consultants justifying tax increases. Every stadium subsidy ever passed (or put before the voters) includes one of these ersatz studies as proof of the viability of the project.

In the private sector, companies hire research consultants to give their best, honest analysis of past performance and future probabilities. Businesses do not profit from bad advice.

In the PUBLIC sector, such consultants are hired to provide the answers desired -- the patina of respectability needed to go forward with unwise financial decisions.

The consultants hired by government understand this. These are hired guns. If they come out with findings that are at variance with the desired results, they likely will never receive another government "consulting" contract.

It would be interesting for this consulting firm to make public their studies that concluded that pro sports subsidies are a bad idea. Likely as not, no such studies exist from this consultant.


paul July 15, 2010 @ 9:31 a.m.


What do you know about Rosentraub?

Here are his books on the subject:

1999: "Major League Losers: The Real Cost Of Sports And Who's Paying For It".
From a review: Team owners, he argues, blackmail cities into huge welfare'' subsidies thattransfer . . . wealth from the lower and middle classes to the upper class.'' They are able to do so because sports cartels'' insure thatthe number of cities that want teams exceeds the supply,'' thus setting off bidding wars among locales. Rosentraub's solution: End the cartels, get the government out of sports, and let the free market rule.

2003: "Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums" From a review: In the face of studies demonstrating that new sports facilities don’t live up to their promise of big money, proponents are using a new tactic to win public subsidies¾ touting intangible "social" rewards, such as prestige and community cohesion. The authors find these to be empty promises as well, demonstrating that new stadiums may exacerbate, rather than erase, many social problems.

2009: "Major League Winners: Using Sports and Cultural Centers as Tools for Economic Development" From a review: illustrates through telling stories and meticulous research, the power of sports venues to generate economic development.



Don Bauder July 15, 2010 @ 12:56 p.m.

Response to post #14: Moores had already beaten it out of town with more than a billion dollars in hand. Why would he want the paper? The Chargers already get everything they want from the U-T. Why would they want it? Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 15, 2010 @ 1:01 p.m.

Response to post #15: I will be checking in with you as soon as I start my homework on this study. I have it, but haven't begun studying it, although I have collected a lot of information from people I have talked with. You are absolutely right: these consulting firms that are paid by sports teams and convention centers ALWAYS come up with the answer that the people paying their bills desire. The consulting firms are for sale. That's why they are hired by some team or convention center wanting to spew distortions and lies, and having a propaganda organ (in this case the U-T) in its pocket. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 15, 2010 @ 1:07 p.m.

Response to post #16: I not only know about Rosentraub, I know him personally, and quoted him in a column last summer. He opposes government subsidies of sports facilities, but in the case of the Padres, he felt that since there would be economic development as part of the deal, he wasn't compromising his principles to be a paid consultant. However, he still hasn't taken into account that the buildings that were constructed were NOT the ones the public voted for in 1998, and they are economic disasters. The condos are a flop. The hotels are not bringing in customers. He looks at the value of the asset but he doesn't take into account that it is not an earning asset. Best, Don Bauder


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