A sense of fairness is one of the most highly developed human emotions. It has been key to the advancement of human civilization.
But fairness isn’t always in our combined best interest, and nothing is a better example of this than the San Diego Chargers’ Measure C ballot proposition.
It’s simply not fair to use tax revenue, even if it’s from tourists, to benefit a wealthy family and a successful national sports monopoly.
But it might be in the long-term best interest of all San Diegans.
The fact is the Chargers have other options, starting with the new stadium under construction in Inglewood outside Los Angeles. That’s why they can drive an unfair bargain.
But what do we get in return?
A “yes” vote on Measure C will increase the transient occupancy tax paid by hotel guests from 12.5 percent of their bill to 16.5 percent. Most of the hotel business downtown is from conventions, and most of hotel bills are paid by conventioneers’ employers. So the tax increase will mostly effect business travelers on expense accounts.
The increased tax revenue, combined with $650 million from the National Football League, will allow San Diego to build a $1.8 billion stadium and 400,000-square-foot convention center. The NFL is putting up a third of the money in order to use the stadium eight times a year. Maybe nine if there’s a Super Bowl. But the convention center would be used the rest of the time.
Consultants for both sides have sparred over the impact of an investment this large, and the viability of a second convention center, but the most optimistic view is that a new football stadium will do for the East Village what Petco Park did for downtown more than a decade ago. In other words, it would be a massive shot in the civic arm, attracting new hotels, restaurants, offices and more.
“There’s an old adage that ‘if you built it they will come.’ Well this might just be true,” said David O’Neal, chairman of Conventional Wisdom Corporation, a consultant for the Chargers, earlier this month. “I believe that doing nothing would be the worst long-term option for the community.”
Arguments like that are beginning to convince naysayers. The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Mayor Kevin Faulconer have all come around to backing Measure C. That’s because this unfair deal might actually lead to another economic boom downtown.
So if San Diego votes for a new downtown stadium, we might take our unhappiness over its unfairness all the way to the bank.
Chris Jennewien is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.