Chalk up another win for the San Antonio Spurs—another stadium deal at taxpayer expense.

With $18 million from the city and Bexar County, the NBA team gained the exclusive right to court a Major League Soccer franchise.

The deal involves the public purchase and leaseback of Toyota Field, current home of the D-league San Antonio Scorpions. The Spurs get in for just $3 million and run the show.

The game plan goes this way: A new Spurs subsidiary, SAFC, has 10 years to land an MLS team. If it fails to do so, SAFC pays $5 million to the city and county (leaving those entities out $13 million and without a franchise).

MLS has made no promises it would locate in San Antonio, but local officials have hope their “investment” will pay off.

“This is a great soccer town,” said Councilman Rey Saldana.

San Antonio’s large Hispanic population is crazy about “futbol.” When teams from Mexico come to play, 8,300-seat Toyota Field sells out.

The Spurs parlay is a win-win for Toyota Field developer Gordon Hartman, who gets $21 million for a promise to build an adjoining park for people with special needs.

Meantime, city and county taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill for expanding Toyota Field to help the Spurs corral an MLS team. Expansion requires a public referendum, and by committing $18 million to the Spurs up front, the city and county effectively gamed the vote.

Critics wonder about Toyota’s field of dreams.

The Spurs say more seats are needed to compete for an MLS franchise. So why not use the city’s 72,000-seat Alamodome? It’s empty 225 days a year.

“Too big,” says Alamodome director Michael Sawaya.

Yet four MLS teams currently play in stadiums with seating capacities of 55,000 and up.

There’s also Alamo Field on the city’s north side. The stadium, owned by the San Antonio Independent School District, seats 18,500.

Either venue could be leased for less than $10,000 per game, and no capital requirements.

“If stadiums are so great, why don’t franchises build their own?” asks Bob Martin, president of the Homeowner-Taxpayer Association of Bexar County.

With two larger stadiums readily available, civic activist Jack Finger says the fixation on Toyota Field smacks of a “sweetheart deal” for the Spurs and Hartman.

Patterned after AT&T Center, which is 84 percent owned by the public and 16 percent by the Spurs, the Toyota Field deal requires an outsized and open-ended “investment” by taxpayers.

It’s money that city residents cannot spare. Bleeding red ink, San Antonio’s per-capita taxpayer burden is already 10th highest in the nation.

According to the Texas Pension Review Board’s Actuarial Valuations Report for October 2015, the city’s three locally administered pension plans have in excess of $617 million in unfunded liabilities.

Before the city council’s unanimous vote Thursday, Councilman Mike Gallagher called the soccer stadium deal “magnificent.” The Spurs surely agree.

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