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Debate continues over success of Petco Park development

Over a billion dollars in new development can be traced to the public financing of Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres, but some still argue it was money misspent by the city.
In most circles, the public funding of Petco Park would be hailed as an unqualitied success: a $300 million investment in the ballpark has directly attracted more than a billion dollars in investment and more in nearby areas. It’s certainly provided a spark to downtown San Diego.

But San Diego is a funny city. Despite Petco Park being a national model for other cities seeking to spur development, some say the city should never have funded the ballpark. The issue: there’s still vacant storefronts in the area, and that the city is still on the hook for $11.7 million annually in debt payments. (Two thirds of that is covered by the increased real-estate taxes paid in the general area.) The city also contributed to ballpark maintenance, though the Padres pick up more than half of that cost.

But not all is perfect. Really, says a local real-estate agent, the fault lies with the Padres, who finished with a weak record last season. If the Padres had only finished stronger, there would have more businesses willing to ignore the deep recession and relocate downtown. OK.

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