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Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 | Question: Should the government and taxpayers help pay for a new football stadium for the Chargers and San Diego State University?

This question raises many questions and you will not find a person who says that they do not care. Everyone one has an opinion when it comes to taxation, especially when it comes to over paid athletes and millionaire owners. The main issue of taxes and stadiums is misunderstood.

People do not see the reward in spending money. It has often been said that “it takes money to make money.” A stadium is no different. It takes money to build one, however not enough people look past the initial spending. Granted it will take hundreds of millions to build the stadium, but the rewards that San Diego will reap after the fact will be huge. It would be so huge that no other single entity in San Diego could match it!

Before we explore the benefits of spending hundreds of millions of dollars for entertainment, let’s look at what we stand to lose if we go with the naysayers who are short sighted and do not use the stadium themselves.

It has been said many times that those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Even if you don’t like the NFL, take a look at the cities that have lost a team under circumstances similar to what San Diego is facing. Cleveland, Baltimore and Houston all lost teams who wanted a new, updated stadium to other cities bidding for their teams.

All three of them ended up with expansion teams AND new stadiums that cost millions more than keeping their original teams would have cost. Their short sightedness ended costing them more and they ended up with the same thing they already had, only it was in the form of an expansion team who was horrible for years, while their old team went on to success elsewhere. The exception is Baltimore, who “stole” the Cleveland team, but basically gave the new stadium and all of its revenue to the incoming owner. Not a good deal for the citizens of Baltimore.

Let’s not forget the Super Bowl! We would be a lock to have the Super Bowl here every four or five years. This is corporate America, coming to San Diego and spending millions of dollars that we sorely need to boost our economy. Every one of these people will stay in a hotel, eat dinner out and spend, spend, spend. All of this is tax revenue that cannot be duplicated.

As for SDSU this is a far different issue. They do not have room on campus to build their own stadium and they MUST have a place to play that is not too far from campus. That is why the current location is the only place that is acceptable. As far as college football goes, if lose the stadium, we lose the Poinsettia Bowl and the Holiday Bowl. Naysayers always conveniently forget all of the people who come into town and spend their hard earned money while visiting, thus creating more tax revenue.

Now, where do we put it and how do we pay for it? First and foremost we put in Mission Valley at the current location. On the east side or west side is of no matter. When the new stadium is complete, we tear down the old one and build condos and shops. This will again create more tax revenue. This model is a proven winner, the New England Patriots have something similar and it is a busy place, even in the offseason.

To fund this project, we raise the tax rate 0.5 percent, to 8.25 percent until the bonds for the stadium are paid. This is a minimal obligation for each citizen, who, don’t forget, reap the benefits when people come here and stay in our hotels. Secondly, we mandate to the Spanos family that only local labor and materials will be used for the project.

Everything from the excavation, to the concrete, to the installation of a seat will come from local people. This will put people to work and put money in their pocket. That money will then be spent locally to boost the economy. It is a win, win situation. To be short sighted will cost this city so much more than a NFL or major college football team. It will cost future tax revenue for decades and once the Chargers leave town, we cannot host the Super Bowl. We only need to look 100 miles to the north to see the impact it has had in Los Angeles.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Andrea Heyenga is a junior at Kearny High School. Her essay reached the finals of the 2009 voiceofsandiego.org Essay Contest. The other finalists’ pieces will run this week with the winner’s appearing Friday, Feb. 20.

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