• Sumo

By Ken Reed

Among the loud fallout from the election results earlier this month, a couple referendums for publicly-financed new pro sports stadiums received little notice.

In San Diego, voters told Dean Spanos, owner of the NFL’s Chargers franchise, they weren’t interested in giving the local NFL team hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new football stadium in which Spanos and his family could boost already-obscene profits on the backs of local citizens. The measure was shot down by a 57% to 43% count.

“Many (voters) felt that the Chargers have tried to hold the city and taxpayers hostage to get the new stadium,” said Jim Lackritz, co-founder of the San Diego State University Sports Business M.B.A. program.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, Arlington, Texas voters approved — by a 60%-40% count — public funding for a billion-dollar sports palace with a retractable roof for MLB’s Texas Rangers. The new stadium will replace a ballpark that is only 22 years old.

A spokesman for the effort to reject the new stadium tax said the “Yes” side was simply too well-funded to beat.

In addition to the taxpayer funding, the new Arlington stadium agreement allows for new ticket and parking taxes. Part of the proceeds from these taxes will go to paying off the Rangers’ share of the ballpark costs.

That’s a new greed-based scheme by billionaire owners in the on-going stadium game.

Here’s hoping this tactic doesn’t become popular in other pro sports cities.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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