Carson Stadium Economic Study Flagged for Suspect Conclusions

NBC 7's Gene Cubbison offers this analysis on the latest behind the Chargers' stadium scramble.

A lot of big numbers are being thrown around in the tug-of-war over the Chargers.

But do they add up to reality?

Economists in Los Angeles predict a huge financial windfall from an NFL stadium in Carson.

Fact or fiction?

Economists in San Diego say the report’s authorship – the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.’s Institute for Applied Economics -- may as well be talking in terms of "bazillions" of dollars, because the findings are imprecise -- based on simple, avoidable errors and far-fetched assumptions.

Tony Manolatos, spokesman for Mayor Faulconer’s nine-member Citizens Stadium Advisory Group, cites the report’s sales projections for personal seat licenses.

"The analysis doesn't pass the smell test; the financial plan doesn't pass the smell test,” Manolatos said in an interview Thursday. “Only two teams have sold the amount of PSLs they’re saying they could sell in Carson – the 49ers and the Cowboys. And they both sold those in home markets.”

He dismissed the study – and the Chargers’ proposed venture in Los Angeles County – with this: “Carson was always a leverage play. This is just more smoke and mirrors."

The 16-page report concludes that a jointly used NFL stadium in Carson would generate upwards $2.6 billion dollars in annual economic impact and nearly 17,000 jobs.

Really -- out in the sticks?

National City resident Gabby Romero, offered this reaction during a Thursday noon-hour walk downtown: "It is a numbers game -- you know, Carson saying, 'We can employ this much, we'll make this much money.' Can't San Diego do the same? Haven't we done the same?"

On Wednesday, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman unveiled concepts and renderings for a stadium anchoring a virtual urban village on the current Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, comprising 166 acres north of the San Diego River and south of the urbanized Friars Road corridor.

A ballpark guess on the project's price tag: $4 billion.

Sherman and his backers foresee returns on that kind of investment, but what's the true upside?

"I actually don't believe it brings money into the economy,” La Jolla resident Ron Dumoff told NBC 7. “I think they say that -- but from other things I've read, it really doesn't. It doesn't improve the economy of the community, necessarily."

To what extent should values for community spirit and civic identity be factored into the equation?

"What we have to come to terms with is, do we want to host this show that the NFL puts on?” says Voice of San Diego editor Scott Lewis. “Do we want to pay what it's worth to do that? And if so, then let's do that. But if not, we might need to come to terms with that."

Reached for his opinion on the Los Angeles study, National University Erik Bruvold noticed “some very elementary mistakes that many who study sports economics caution against.”

Such as?

“It grossly overestimates the amount of ‘new money that will flow into L.A. County for the project, and grossly underestimates how fast the money will leak out, ” Bruvold said.

Bottom line?

“The overwhelming majority of economists who have objectively studied the issue have reached a strong consensus – stadiums have minimal economic impact on their communities.”

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