California lawmakers have had little success in attracting sports stadiums

Only one of several attempts has had an impact in recent years.

April 20, 2017 |

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Since 2009, California legislators have passed laws to make it easier to build new football stadiums in the San Gabriel Valley, San Diego, and downtown Los Angeles, and basketball arenas in Sacramento and San Francisco.

Only one, a basketball arena in Sacramento, actually went forward. None of the football stadiums lawmakers targeted since 2009 were built, though a stadium to be shared by the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers is now under construction in Inglewood, near Los Angeles. That stadium did not require state legislation, as a strategy that involved collecting signatures from residents supporting the project proved to be successful.

State lawmakers action did provide the Sacramento Kings with shortcuts in defending environmental lawsuits against their downtown arena project. The legislation limited a judge’s ability to halt construction unless there were serious health and safety risks.

California lawmakers, pointedly, did not authorize state funds to build stadiums in contrast to the Nevada Legislature’s pledge of $750 million, a record public subsidy, to build a new stadium to attract the Oakland Raiders. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called Nevada lawmakers’ decision “highway robbery,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Sacramento did spend some city funds to get the Sacramento Kings arena built, though. One legislator told the Times that spending public money on private sports arenas is bad policy.

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