COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | RON CARRICO

Chargers: What can we afford to lose?

Apparently football causes brain damage — especially among politicians. At least that is the way it looks whenever the discussion of public subsidies for professional football team owners begins.

Maybe before we discuss how to ruin our city’s financial future we should consider what the city would have to sacrifice to come up with a billion or so to satisfy the Spanos family.

At a minimum, the yearly cost of the bonds to finance the Chargers will be from $40 million to $60 million — or the equivalent of 1,000 schoolteachers. How many new libraries or recreation centers could be improved or built, or roads maintained?

Actually, maybe we are lucky that our roads are in such lousy shape — because it is a constant visual reminder local of underfunding or shall we say lack of funds. And I imagine if we looked at the amount of money the city already spends to finance places for the Padres and Chargers to play, we would be shocked. I am guessing somewhere between $20 million and $30 million per year.

And what is the return on that investment? Do the Padres and Chargers bring tourists to fill our hotels? Probably to some extent. But I would argue that the Super Bowl is played at the time of year that San Diego hotels are already full of Canadians.

The Chargers, who play only 10 games a year at home, are obviously a far worse investment than the Padres. And maybe 40,000 season ticket holders and a maximum of 200,000 other fans attend the games.

Considering our 3.1 million regional population, a new football facility would serve a very small portion of residents. And if we are honest, the game is designed for television.

Incidentally, in the unlikely event that the Chargers are considered an important asset, the city should file suit to keep the Chargers under the concept of eminent domain. Deputize Iron Mike Aguirre and let us see the Chargers’ and NFL’s response.

Please understand that the U-T San Diego is a huge supporter because football coverage sells thousands of newspapers. That is why there are football stories every single day of the year in the U-T. Last week, a U-T sportswriter referred to City Council members as "ham and eggers" who have not gotten the deal done to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

I thought protecting the public treasury was their job. When we consider that at least half of the people in San Diego could not care less about the Chargers, maybe we should thank our mayor and City Council for not showing evidence of brain damage — so far, that is.


Carrico is a San Diego attorney and can be emailed at roncarrico@hotmail.com. Comments may be published as Letters to the Editor.

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