I typically avoid the sports pages (one recent exception was following the news on Colin Kaepernick and Rodney Axson) but the news out of San Diego, California, where I lived for two years in the late ’70s, grabbed my attention with this headline from The Guardian: San Diego refused to be bullied by the NFL and billionaire owners. Les Carpenter writes:
Sooner or later the public welfare office for sports billionaires is going to close. American cities will look at the more than $7bn of taxpayer money spent in the last 20 years on football stadiums alone and say: “Enough!”
On Thursday, the San Diego Chargers announced they will be leaving the city where they have played for the last 56 years, and will move to Los Angeles. They are doing this because the politicians and voters in San Diego did not give Chargers owner Dean Spanos the same golden gift Atlanta and Seattle and all the other capitulating municipalities [like Cleveland, JH] gave their ridiculously wealthy teams’ owners.
I left this comment on The Guardian this morning.
We missed our opportunity when Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore in 1995 and the best then Mayor Michael White could do was to was preserve the team’s name and colors in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County tax payers continue to pay millions so that uber rich owners can get richer.
Good on you San Diego!
Have Coffee Will Write
No way was San Diego handing out $1bn for a stadium that would sit empty for most of the year. Even assuming the special tax—which would have raised the city’s take on hotel bills to 16% – wouldn’t have pulled money that could have gone to schools and roads, the effort to raise the tax would have taken energy away from tending those schools and roads. Giving Spanos $1bn, regardless of where it came from, would have sent a terrible message.
He is less marching his team to LA than slinking away with a cheap new logo that looks like a broken lamp plug. Thursday is not historic; it is sad.
Yet I, and I assume several stadiums full of San Diegans, are smiling.