Chargers make case for economic boost from new stadium

Posted at 6:23 AM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 20:42:54-04

SAN DIEGO - A Chargers stadium and convention center annex being proposed under Measure C would be an economic boost and bring an array of benefits for San Diego workers and residents, according to a study released Tuesday by two local economists.

The team-funded study was authored by Alan Gin, an associate professor of economics at the University of San Diego, and Murtaza Baxamusa, director of planning and development for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council Family Housing Corporation.

"The Chargers gave us complete freedom to do our research over the summer months and to come to whatever conclusions we believed were warranted," Gin said. "The study we are releasing today is the result of three months of intensive work by Dr. Baxamusa, our research assistant Kelly Allende and me."

The study found that the project, if approved by two-thirds of voters in November, would create 15,000 construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs. Regional economic output was projected to increase by $1.2 billion, while labor income would be increased by $1.2 billion.

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The final study used replicable and academically accepted methods, conservative assumptions and robust government data, so that the findings are independently verifiable, Gin said.

Three areas of economic impact were identified in the study, including the construction of the project, the Chargers' operations in San Diego, and additional conventions and meetings through the use of the so-called "convadium" as an expansion of the convention center.

Carol Kim, director of community impact for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, applauded the findings.

READ: Complete Econommic Impact Study

"The convadium will result in thousands of new good-paying jobs for San Diegans, plus new apprenticeship training opportunities for community members to earn while they learn, receive full family medical coverage, retirement benefits and enter into a life-long, middle-class career without college debt," Kim said. "This is a clear boost to our economy and a benefit for our communities."

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association released a statement with a different view.

"Study after academic study over a quarter century have all reached the same conclusion -- football stadiums do not foster economic development. They are not good for the tax base," SDCTA President and CEO Haney Hong said.

"Urban theorist Richard Florida recently put it this way: 'The overwhelming conclusion of decades of economic research on the subject is that using public funds to subsidize wealthy sports franchises makes zero economic sense and is a giant waste of taxpayer money,'" Hong said.

He said attaching a convention center annex to the Chargers stadium plan, which Comic-Con and San Diego's tourism leaders have warned is a bad investment, does not make the project any more appealing.

The Chargers have sought to replace Qualcomm Stadium for years. Local officials had initially offered to build a replacement on the Mission Valley site, but the team rejected the plan in favor of a move to an East Village location near Petco Park.

Measure C would raise San Diego's hotel room tax to help pay for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $1.8 billion. The levy is currently 10.5 percent, with a separate 2 percent fee that funds tourism marketing. Measure C would raise the tax to a total of 16.5 percent.

The Chargers and NFL would kick in a combined $650 million toward the project. Team executives said the combined facility would not only result in a state-of-the-art football stadium, but space that could be used for around 300 days a year.