Thursday, March 16, 2006 | San Diego is going to be a busy city this weekend.
On top of the usual reveling associated with spring break and St. Patrick’s Day, San Diego is hosting two monumental events – the final two rounds of the inaugural World Baseball Classic and the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
That’s a lot of reveling for one city.
And with reveling, undoubtedly comes policing.
Not just everyday policing – the San Diego Police Department has three sold-out baseball games and a tournament appropriately dubbed “March Madness” on its hands.
The 16-team baseball bonanza known as the World Baseball Classic culminates in San Diego when the top four teams square off in the semifinals and finals on Saturday and Monday respectively. The NCAA tournament kicks off at Cox Arena Thursday and Saturday.
The San Diego Police Department will be asked to secure Petco Park from terrorists, ticket scalpers, public drunkards and rowdy fans during the international event. Meanwhile, the department will also assist San Diego State University in its efforts in mitigating traffic.
Bill Maheu, SDPD executive assistant police chief, said preliminary estimates show that mitigating the World Baseball Classic will cost about $125,000 and March Madness will cost about $9,200. These estimates could rise or fall dramatically, he said, based on certain circumstances, including which countries participate and whether political leaders attend the event.
SDPD has sent the cost estimates to Major League Baseball by way of the Padres and to the NCAA by way of Cox Arena. Maheu said the department expected to be fully reimbursed for costs incurred by managing the events.
The city rarely recoups the costs associated with policing special events, according to a 2004 city manager’s report. The report found that promoters and sports franchises reimbursed SDPD for 21 percent of the expenses incurred overseeing events at sites such as Qualcomm Stadium, Petco Park and ipayOne Center.
Much of these lost expenses, Maheu said, come from contracts with the San Diego Chargers and the Padres, which do not fully reimburse the city.
The Chargers contract requires the team to reimburse the city for 50 percent of the police officers inside the stadium, and none of the officers outside the gates. The Padres reimburse the city for nearly 100 percent of the officers inside the stadium and none of the officers outside.
Even if the city were to lose tax dollars on the events, it is anticipated the high-profile sporting events will bring money into the area and into the city’s coffers in the form of hotel-room taxes.
The media exposure provided by such an event thrusts the city into the limelight and, in addition, spectators from around the globe patronize the city’s hotels and restaurants.
Sal Giametta, a spokesman for the Convention and Visitors Bureau said preliminary projections show that roughly 90 percent of the county’s 54,000 rooms will be filled this weekend.
For the same weekend last year, San Diego County hoteliers filled 78.5 percent of their rooms. The additional traffic translates to about $5 million in more in total room revenue and about $500,000 in additional hotel-room tax collected by the city.
Giametta said that impulse travelers from Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties could push the 90-percent figure up if the weather is nice this weekend.
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