The San Francisco 49ers are adding about $100 million worth of goodies to their new Santa Clara stadium, mostly for unspecified tech upgrades to “enhance the fan experience.” They can afford this, in part, because their annual rent payments are expected to go down from $30 million a year to $24.5 million a year, thanks to better-than-expected naming-rights and PSL sales and a refinancing deal that will cut the public stadium authority’s loan rate from 7% to 5%.
Clearly, the 49ers stadium is turning out to be a best-case scenario, where the public costs are going to be repaid by team revenues, and the stadium can pay for itself despite a whopping $1.3 billion price tag. (You could argue that the city could have held out for an even better deal where in exchange for fronting the cash it would get to profit from all the naming-rights and PSL boodle, instead of just breaking even, but that’s a best-case scenario for a more utopian America.) It just goes to show that some stadiums can be built with private money and turn a profit — so long as they’re in major metropolitan areas flush with tech income and host teams that go to the Super Bowl. Whether this would work in, say, San Diego, is another story, though one that the Chargers might want to be asking themselves given how their stadium subsidy demands are coming along.