No one is remarking upon it, but this weekend's Super Bowl is more bad news for California.
After all, this game -- designed to attract big crowds to a game played in warm weather -- is taking place in the small, frigid midwestern outpost of Indianapolis. And this is a game that was invented right here in California. Alas, the Super Bowl looks like another business that has fled the state.
The first Super Bowl was held in Los Angeles. 11 of the first 37 took place in California. But the state hasn't hosted a Super Bowl since 2003 -- in nearly a decade. And it's pretty clear the big game won't be back.
Why? There are three, related reasons -- and thus three things California can learn from the Super Bowl
- It's important to invest in infrastructure, even costly infrastructure. Yes, I'm not a big fan of football or football stadiums. But the failure to build such stadiums in California is symptomatic of a state that has been unwilling to build big things -- often because of a lack of money. In Northern California, the Raiders and 49ers pay in outdated rundown stadiums; the 49ers stadium, Candlestick Park, suffered embarassing power outages during a Monday night game this past season. In San Diego, the story is the same with the Chargers. And Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States, doesn't have a football team because it hasn't been able to build a modern stadium for football.
- Budgets matter -- sometimes more than good weather. One reason why stadiums haven't been built is because local government budgets are such a mess. How can you justify that kind of expense when local and state budgets for core programs are being cut? Indiana and its cities are in better shape, and they've been able to make investments -- including the recent construction of Lucas Oil Stadium, where the stadium will be built.
- Fewer budget rules is better than many budget rules. Indiana is generally considered one of the best managed states from a fiscal perspective. And it has none of the spending mandates, budget rules, and constitutional fiscal provisions that clutter California's law and constitution. California leads the country in special budget rules -- Prop 13, Prop 98, etc. -- and has a mess of a budget.
This might seem like a small issue. But California is paralyzed -- so paralyzed that Indiana can build a better venue for America's leading sports event -- and steal the game away from us, even though, by all other measures, we're a better place to throw a party.
I'm not sure whether the Giants or Patriots are going to win Sunday. But I know that in this Super Bowl, California has already lost.