On Election Day, Rangers Get $500 Million, Chargers Get Permission to Move to L.A.

There were two ballot measures for whether taxpayers would fund new stadiums for their billionaire owners in San Diego and Arlington, Texas.

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Nov 9 2016, 4:55pm

On Tuesday, there were two ballot measures for whether taxpayers would fund new stadiums for their billionaire owners. In San Diego, the Chargers lost their bid by a wide margin, receiving only 42 percent approval from 85 percent of the total votes counted as of Tuesday. The measure called for $1.15 billion in taxpayer-funded bonds to pay for the joint stadium and convention center. It was never expected to pass, since it required a two-thirds majority.

As a result of the defeat, the Chargers' future in San Diego is very much in jeopardy. The obvious play would be to move a few hours north to Los Angeles when the Rams' new stadium in Inglewood opens, which is expected to be for the 2019 season. The Chargers owners reportedly spent millions on TV and radio ads, a small price to pay so they can shrug and say "we tried" when they pack up and move up the 5.

Meanwhile, Arlington, Texas, voters offered an equally resounding approval for their measure, which gives the Texas Rangers some $500 million to replace a 22-year-old baseball stadium because it doesn't have air conditioning (even though this has no significant effect on attendance, which has been as good as the team on the field). The $500 million over 30 years will come from a half-cent of sales tax, two percent hotel occupancy tax, and five percent car rental tax. At the risk of beating a very, very dead horse, this is a bad idea for Arlington because that taxpayer money could go toward other things, any other things, besides a new baseball stadium to replace a perfectly good one, and if the economy should falter or tourism decline, that shortfall will have to come out of the general fund. Who knows what the economy will be like in five years—much less 20 or 30—given, say, other circumstances that developed last night?

On another note, there is some pretty wild speculation as to whether that other thing that happened last night will affect Los Angeles's bid for the 2024 Olympics or an expected U.S. bid for the 2026 World Cup. While it's too early to say anything on those issues specifically, it's worth noting the following: