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San Diego Would Feel Little Financial Pain If Chargers Bolt


Aired 11/18/10

Chargers owner Alex Spanos is selling a minority stake in the football team. The sale has people wondering whether one potential buyer could be a stadium developer in Los Angeles who would move the Bolts north.

— Chargers owner Alex Spanos is selling a minority stake in the football team. The sale has people wondering whether one potential buyer could be a stadium developer in Los Angeles who would move the Bolts north.

A rendering of the proposed Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego.
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Above: A rendering of the proposed Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego.

Sports economists say the Chargers moving to L.A. is far from certain: The team would have to compete with other franchises looking for a new hometown; plus, a team has to pay the NFL for any increase in franchise value a move creates. If the Chargers were worth more in L.A. than in San Diego, the Spanos family and minority-share owners would have to pay the difference to the league in order to complete a move.

It’s that second reason that makes team owners want to stay put, according to Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College in Massachusetts who has written extensively on the economics of professional sports.

“It’s not a bonanza really, to move your team," he said. "Most owners who are in decent markets – and I consider San Diego such a market – try to work out their relationship in that market for those reasons."

Reviving talk of a possible move could be one way for the Chargers to work out their relationship with San Diego, according to Rodney Fort, an economist with the University of Michigan's sports management program.

"If they can convince people in San Diego they're about to lose their football team because L.A.'s right down the road, then it's more likely that people in the area will help chip in to build a new stadium," he said. "This ploy is as old as pro sports."

If the team couldn't get what it was looking for here and did pull up stakes, the city’s economy probably wouldn’t notice.

“As a general proposition, sports teams don’t have a significant effect one way or the other on local economies,” Zimbalist said. He added that depending on the terms of a plan for a new stadium --the current proposal for a downtown home for the Chargers includes $500 million in taxpayer funding -- it could benefit the city's finances to let the team go.

So, why don’t San Diegans send the team off with our best wishes for their success elsewhere? Fort cautions against discounting the intangible quality-of-life value the team adds for many residents.

“That is a value that only the people of San Diego can assess for themselves and then decide through their representative government whether they’re willing to pay it,” he said.

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Avatar for user 'hopeheadsd'

hopeheadsd | November 19, 2010 at 12:26 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I say, if LA is offering more money, then go. I havent seen any initiative from the current owners that they want to give back to a community of fans that stand behind their team.

The dilemma of professional sports/talent and multi million dollar businesses co-existing has always been a tug of war hasnt it?

In the past there have been several teams in the NFL which have left town, become another team and then show up again back in said town with new owners.

I think the SD market is very good and has a good base. Ultimately if the Chargers as we know them now, leave, I am certain at some point in the near future another team will come in if not the Chargers. Let it be. Let the Spanos's play their politics with City.

In the meantime I will watch the blacked out home game highlights on ESPN.

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Avatar for user 'dherrer1'

dherrer1 | December 1, 2010 at 10:33 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I think by now that most San Diegans know that the Chargers are doing all the can to convience this community to share the costs of a new mega stadium that they can then use to make millions for them..not us. I have lived my life between San Diego and Los Angeles. As a young lad I was a big fan of the then Los Angeles Rams who are now in Saint Louis and I was also a Charger fan and was able to watch them play in Balboa Stadium...which were really great games!!!! If the Chargers think Los Angeles will pay for a new stadium we should just let them go. I don't think this will happen most people in LA would rather they use the colosium shared with USC or the Rose Bowl shared with UCLA but the NFL doesn't want this and this is the reason there is no NFL team in LA right now. Look, LA and San Diego have better places to spend 500 million dollars then on a football team. It's just crazy to think otherwise. 500 million in San Diego buys you allot of school repairs and improvements, better parks, etc and maybe a world class library downtown. The NFL and the chargers are a mega business and they can afford to pay the infrastructure costs to keep their business in busness. I don't see QualComm asking the city to pay for it's buildings or equipment. Lets just thank the Chargers for 40 years of entertainment and let them gooo. Then we should do all we can to support the Aztecs and turn them into the next Pac-12 team.

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Avatar for user 'ftarantino'

ftarantino | February 26, 2011 at noon ― 6 years ago

If this is the most professional opinion on this issue, it is no wonder that our state of affairs in San Diego is in dire straits. How could losing the Charger's not affect our city coffers or as the supposed financial wiz said it could benefit the city, WOW! Lets see the pros of keeping them, rent from the Q, conessions from the Q, thousands of jobs to run the Q and not to mention the 5000 or so potenial jobs that a new stadium would create for 3+ years of building it, future Superbowls, exposure to our beautiful city which tourisum is our no. 1 revenue stream. Now just double that for the Aztec's as well and maybe add a MLS soccer team. Not to mention all the other events that the current stadium as well as the new stadium host. Cons, the Q runs at a $17 million dollar bill a year for the city as of today, the cost to destroy the stadium should the team bolt would be about 29-35 million plus the still unknown fuel plume from the fuel depots across the street. The loss of all the jobs should the Q seist to exsist, no Aztec football, no Holiday bowl or Poinsettia bowl. Petco park has proven the naysayers wrong as would a new Chargers park. Try walking down 16th street at about 3-4pm and see if your not robbed or offered drugs or prostitues. Just 7 short years ago that was what the area we call Petco park was and look at it now. San Diego look beyond the almighty dollar and look at what this project can produce.

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