Statement: “(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.”

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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