Fact Check: How Wealthy Is the Chargers’ Owner?

Fact Check: How Wealthy Is the Chargers’ Owner?

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Dean Spanos, the Chargers president, center, is the son of team owner Alex Spanos (not pictured).

 

Image: mostly trueStatement: “(Alex) Spanos is on the list of the 400 richest people in the United States, with a fortune estimated at more than $1 billion,” columnist Ron Carrico wrote for the Daily Transcript Oct. 17.

Determination: Mostly True

Analysis: As fans debate the Chargers’ recent skid on the field, a broader debate continues to envelop San Diego’s professional football franchise. The team wants a new downtown stadium and hefty public subsidies to pay for it. Team and city officials say they are preparing a ballot initiative for an election next year.

Though the initiative’s details are still being hashed out, the debate has already heated up and centered on a few common themes. City officials argue that taxes generated by keeping the Chargers in town would support public expenses like libraries and parks.

Team officials have also highlighted economic competition they face from other football clubs. With a new publicly funded stadium, the team says it could increase revenue and continue attracting top players.

Carrico, though, echoed a frequent criticism against using public funds for a new stadium. He said taxpayers can’t afford to subsidize a private company when public services like schools and libraries are being cut. However, team owner Alex Spanos can afford the additional expense, he argued.

“Spanos is on the list of the 400 richest people in the United States, with a fortune estimated at more than $1 billion,” Carrico wrote. “Furthermore, the Spanos family is made up of builders — maybe they should build the stadium themselves.”

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Carrico’s description of Spanos’ wealth is accurate. Forbes Magazine has listed Spanos among the nation’s wealthiest 400 people for at least the past five years. With an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion last year, he ranked 375th in the country.

One important caveat: Forbes’ estimate doesn’t only represent Spanos’ personal wealth. It includes the assets of his immediate family because their wealth can be traced directly to one individual — Alex. His spot is technically listed by Forbes as “Alexander Spanos and family.”

Our definition for Mostly True says the claim is accurate and contains an important nuance. It fits Carrico’s statement because Spanos is on Forbes’ ranking, but his wealth listed there includes more than just his own.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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24 comments
John Lucier
John Lucier subscriber

That's like saying it costs too much to drive to work so let's not go any more!

batvette
batvette

That's like saying it costs too much to drive to work so let's not go any more!

Bob Jones
Bob Jones subscriber

Who would place a NEW STADIUM above this project?

rwj5125
rwj5125

Who would place a NEW STADIUM above this project?

joshuajay619
joshuajay619

Building a new stadium does fall short of critical need, and there are critical needs here in San Diego that need to be addressed, sooner than later.

toulon
toulon

Looking at the Chargers' record this year, I kinda think they'll delay the vote awhile, don't you? The Padres had to get to the World Series before they could sell their malarkey.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

Looking at the Chargers' record this year, I kinda think they'll delay the vote awhile, don't you? The Padres had to get to the World Series before they could sell their malarkey.

joshuajay619
joshuajay619

I'm not saying, let's build a stadium with all public money carte blanche. At the end of the day it still has to make sense financially. I'm saying that there are beneficial factors that are often not taken into account.

Eva Vargas
Eva Vargas subscriber

I didn't even read this article; I'm so disgusted with Spanos. I just wanted to vent. What do you want to do make sure you take your billions with you when you die? Your family can't even spend the money you've made. We could even name Spanos stadium that would be your legacy--I'm sure the Mayor wouldn't mind sharing (his legacy that is). I now feel better. Thank you.

evavrgs
evavrgs

I didn't even read this article; I'm so disgusted with Spanos. I just wanted to vent. What do you want to do make sure you take your billions with you when you die? Your family can't even spend the money you've made. We could even name Spanos stadium that would be your legacy--I'm sure the Mayor wouldn't mind sharing (his legacy that is). I now feel better. Thank you.

Bob Jones
Bob Jones subscriber

Politicians seeking a NEW STADIUM are not acting in the best interests of the citizens who elected them. Rather they are attempting to further their own interests via the NFL network.

rwj5125
rwj5125

Politicians seeking a NEW STADIUM are not acting in the best interests of the citizens who elected them. Rather they are attempting to further their own interests via the NFL network.

Larry Christensen
Larry Christensen subscriber

I suggest if the fans want a new stadium, it is paid for by a surcharge on every ticket sold. That way it's the actual fan who is going to the game pay for for its building and upkeep. We as a city and citizens should not subsidize a private enterprise. I believe the Tea Party start up was due to bailing out the banks and car industry, how is this different?

ljsea9
ljsea9

I suggest if the fans want a new stadium, it is paid for by a surcharge on every ticket sold. That way it's the actual fan who is going to the game pay for for its building and upkeep. We as a city and citizens should not subsidize a private enterprise. I believe the Tea Party start up was due to bailing out the banks and car industry, how is this different?

Charles Adair
Charles Adair subscriber

Instead of building a brand new stadium downtown with little to no tailgating space the city should spend half the money that it would take to build a new stadium and renovate Qualcomm. Renovate the locker rooms,press facilities, install a new scoreboard and luxury boxes. If the owners don't like it they can move to LA and sell a good sized chunk of their team to Anschultz. Sooner or later a team will move to San Diego or better yet San Diego should buy their own franchise similar to Green Bay. Qualcomm is centrally located off the freeway, accessible by public transit and has a parking lot perfect for tailgating which is the highlight of the experience for a lot of fans.

thehills
thehills

Instead of building a brand new stadium downtown with little to no tailgating space the city should spend half the money that it would take to build a new stadium and renovate Qualcomm. Renovate the locker rooms,press facilities, install a new scoreboard and luxury boxes. If the owners don't like it they can move to LA and sell a good sized chunk of their team to Anschultz. Sooner or later a team will move to San Diego or better yet San Diego should buy their own franchise similar to Green Bay. Qualcomm is centrally located off the freeway, accessible by public transit and has a parking lot perfect for tailgating which is the highlight of the experience for a lot of fans.

Larry Christensen
Larry Christensen subscriber

My question is always about the claim that they need to generate more income so they can get better players, but if the NFL has a salary cap and the Chargers are already at the cap, how does more revenue from a new stadium get better players? It's all related to generate more income for the Spanos family. We as a city cannot afford to subsidize a private company. we can't even afford to fix our streets, keep libraries open so how can we afford this. Why not put a surcharge on every ticket that's purchased so the actual fans who go, pay for it themselves. That way we as fans or non fans have a choice and a vote.

ljsea9
ljsea9

My question is always about the claim that they need to generate more income so they can get better players, but if the NFL has a salary cap and the Chargers are already at the cap, how does more revenue from a new stadium get better players? It's all related to generate more income for the Spanos family. We as a city cannot afford to subsidize a private company. we can't even afford to fix our streets, keep libraries open so how can we afford this. Why not put a surcharge on every ticket that's purchased so the actual fans who go, pay for it themselves. That way we as fans or non fans have a choice and a vote.

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

Responding to Goldfish--One, the stadium that has been discussed is actually smaller (62,500), which also immediately takes it out of Super Bowl consideration (which is one of the so-called benefits, as stated by the Chargers, of building a new stadium). Two, the stadium will not break even, as a municipal stadium does not make money. The Chargers KNOW a new stadium is not profitable; if it were, they would have built one by now.

aardvark6
aardvark6

Responding to Goldfish--One, the stadium that has been discussed is actually smaller (62,500), which also immediately takes it out of Super Bowl consideration (which is one of the so-called benefits, as stated by the Chargers, of building a new stadium). Two, the stadium will not break even, as a municipal stadium does not make money. The Chargers KNOW a new stadium is not profitable; if it were, they would have built one by now.

Lucas OConnor
Lucas OConnor subscriber

I don't see anything here explaining why you consider Forbes to be wrong in this determination or suggesting that the distinction is substantive.

lucasoconnor
lucasoconnor

I don't see anything here explaining why you consider Forbes to be wrong in this determination or suggesting that the distinction is substantive.