Are mega events in the Twin Cities worth it?

REUTERS/USA Today Sports
Minnesota should expect a $7.5 million economic boost from the All Star Game rather than the $75 million touted by MLB.

The All-Star game has come and gone, and soon we’ll be preparing for the 2018 Super Bowl. These are not the last mega events on the horizon: Gov. Mark Dayton named a committee to attract an NCAA Men’s Final Four to the new Vikings stadium sometime between 2017 and 2020, and a who’s-who of Minnesotans is promoting a bid to host a World’s Fair in Minnesota in 2023.

Events like these bring attention and excitement to our state. Are they worth the resources we put into them?

Calculating the benefits

We know that sponsoring organizations think mega events are worth their cost because they always commission an economic impact study touting their benefits. These studies focus on the direct effects of the event (e.g. the money visitors spend at the event) and indirect effects (e.g. increased earnings at hotels and restaurants attributable to the event). 

A nice example is the New Orleans study of the economic effects of the 2013 Super Bowl.  They estimated Super Bowl XLVII generated $480 million in benefits, of which $262.8 million was direct spending and $217.2 million was indirect impacts.

Meet Minneapolis issued a fact sheet with economic impact figures for the 2008 through 2014 All Star games provided by Major League Baseball (MLB):

Economists not associated with host committees find that economic impact studies overestimate the economic effects of mega events. In particular, economist Victor Matheson has studied events ranging from the MLB All-Star Game and World Series to the Super Bowl, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and national political conventions. He gave a talk at the 2013 Minnesota Economics Association conference in which he set out the three problems common to these studies.

First, these analyses ignore the fact that spending at these events results in less spending in other sectors of the local economy. So, part of the $75 million economic boost claimed as part of the All Star game might be money diverted from Valleyfair or state parks.

Second, a large event such as the Super Bowl deters visitors who might otherwise come to Minnesota. This probably isn’t as big a problem in making estimates for Minnesota in January as it might be in July, but it needs to be taken into account.

Third, not all of the additional economic activity that occurs during a mega event flows into the local economy. For instance, hotel workers may earn additional income during a Final Four but much of the economic benefit in this sector might consist of the profits earned by out-of-state hotel management and owners.

Matheson summarizes the situation this way: “As a rule of thumb, take whatever the boosters say and move the decimal point one place to the left.” Thus, Minnesota should expect a $7.5 million economic boost from the All Star Game rather than the $75 million touted by MLB.

Benefits compared to what?

Once we’ve calculated the increased economic activity correctly we still need to compare this with the opportunity costs of hosting the event.  This includes both explicit costs (e.g. extra police protection, construction done to host the event) and implicit costs, i.e. the benefits we could receive if we spent money on alternative investments.

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This is where we need to be careful about bidding for NCAA Final Fours (men’s or women’s) or hosting a world’s fair. Citizens and policymakers must ask the question, can we earn a higher return on the resources we would invest in these events by doing something else?

I’m sure that the answer is yes if we think carefully about our options. My preferred alternative would be to take the money we would otherwise spend on a mega event and put it toward early-childhood education. According to Art Rolnick and Rob Grunewald, each $1 invested in early-childhood education pays a return of about $7.  Neither a World’s Fair nor a Final Four will pay anywhere near these types of dividends.

It’s always fun to have a party. But let’s not confuse the ordinary, routine work we need to build and maintain a vibrant economy with the glamour of mega events.

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Comments (48)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/25/2014 - 09:33 am.

    Apt comparison

    The analogy of a mega-event to a party seems right on target to me. Nothing wrong with a party if you can afford to host one, but responsible adults don’t spend so much on the party that they can’t make their monthly rent or mortgage payment, and Professor Johnston is not the first to point out that economic figures from booster organizations should be accepted with several/many grains of salt. My own analogy is that booster organizations for sports events are very much like small children – they want the event to happen, and routinely fudge the numbers in order to get the result they want. And, like children, they will have a tantrum if the grownups in the legislature or state or local government say “no.”

    As Johnston suggests, any economic benefits of a mega-event may well be consumed by ancillary costs that boosters would prefer that we not consider to be part of the equation, but a cost is a cost is a cost, and somebody eventually has to pay the bill. Too often, the “somebody” is the public, while the economic benefits, whatever they might be, flow mainly to the upper end. Yeah, the waiter at the hotel might pick up an extra week’s worth of pay in tips, but the owner of the hotel will be pocketing considerably more than that.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/25/2014 - 10:35 am.


    I do believe the Indianapolis Super Bowl study claimed to take into account the three factors mentioned by Mr. Johnson. For myself, I don’t really doubt that bringing events to the Twin Cities, whether they are high visibility like Super Bowls or low visibility events like Shriners conventions maybe are good for local businesses. The real problem is the one Mr. Johnson goes on to address, the fact that high visibility events like Super Bowls are also high cost events. As with any business venture, there is no point in generating high revenues if the costs associated with those revenues are higher.

    The event issue gets tangled up in the mind with issues related to the cost of the buildings. But we have already sunk the money in the building of the Vikings Stadium. That won’t change a lot whether we get a Super Bowl or not. For me, the central business problem of the Vikings Stadium is that we are spending a billion dollars a year on a building that will be effectively used only eight times a year. From a purely business standpoint, that’s just plain silly. But if we can use the building nine or even ten times a year, it becomes incrementally less silly.

    We built the building, we might as well get some use out of it.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/29/2014 - 12:49 pm.

      “If you build it

      He will come”
      The problem is, I highly suspect that the Super Bowl was promised to legislators at the time the stadium debate came to an abrupt end. That is, we probably got roped into building it BECAUSE of this promise. So, we didn’t just decide to build it and, *bonus* we got the Super Bowl. I’ll tell you why I believe this: several legislators, including my own at the time, were adamant that they would NEVER vote for the stadium. In fact, mine was angry at Dayton for pushing it. I talked to her in person and that’s what she claimed…just weeks before she very suddenly voted for it. She, and many others, have failed to explain that change of heart.

  3. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/25/2014 - 11:45 am.

    I have done economic impact studies

    for which I will not burn in economist hell. But they have been for base businesses and the majority of the impact was from workers wages and the results were well qualified when reported.

    Economic impact assessment is a good tool (not to mention the firm that owns the best tool IMPLAN is headquartered in Hudson and is owned by at least one U of M grad -“yeah us”) when it is used for comparative purposes and it is net of the existing economic activity and marginal costs. As Mr.Foster pointed out the purpose of this activity is to increase the return to fixed assets that have been publicly subsidized.

    It is fairly straight forward to do a post event economic study by looking at the change in sales tax receipts and income for that period in a specific geographic area. The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) should have that data eventually.

    Impact is based on data and assumptions, the biggest being the general applicability of data to different sets of of individuals in slightly different sets of circumstances some of which may be significant.

    There are also assumptions in the early childhood ed information but they had good base data to work with so perhaps less.

    Economists don’t fudge the numbers they work with what they have and can get for data on similar studies. There is no peer review on these studies. It is in no economists best interest to do so, unless they are court consultants. A good review would help at least expose the assumptions more clearly.

  4. Submitted by David Broden on 07/25/2014 - 11:52 am.

    Mega Event Value vs. Strengthening the Business/Industry Famliy

    Mega events are great and are appreciated by MN citizens and guests. However as well look at the effort to address all of these do we consider the “What If” of what would be the impact of we put the same MN team together to work with business/industry to maintain and grow the economy of MN through retention, growth of existing business and starting new businesses. While we all know that the economics of business and types of business evolve –some start, some maintain and some fade away we often do not think about the impact of the evolution. Lets take the loss of Honeywell as an solid and focused point. Honeywell was not just a key employer– it was a incubator of new technology, of new skills at all job spectrums, the Honeywell workforce spun off workers to other industries and these workers are/were key to the new busineses. Today how has this been replaced? Perhaps an effort to keep companies such as Honeywell and the entire what was MN Defense industry employing unique skills, Do we ever consider what companies like Honeywell provided or invented — aircraft radar, ring laser gyro, air turbulence ID, helmet sight, MEM’s and much more. This but one example where focus on business would outweight the focus on mega events in terms of value to MN. I hope we can balance the focus — jobs for all levels of employment win big over another mega event. It is however likely that opinions such as expressed above get minimal attention so that the big splash ideas make for big messages> All readers of the comments above please think hard where MN priorities should be.
    Dave Broden

  5. Submitted by David Frenkel on 07/25/2014 - 11:58 am.

    Mega events are parties

    These mega events are parties for the wealthy. The extremely wealthy owners know how to hold onto their money by having host cities pay for everything and then party at the taxpayers expense.
    No independent economists have shown these athletic mega events to be profitable for the host city. It does make more sense to hold more events at the Vikings stadium but keep in mind more events mean more wear and tear as well as added maintenance costs, there is no free lunch.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 07/25/2014 - 04:15 pm.

      I don’t know that is true Mr Frenkel

      First is profit is not something that cities look for from an event they look at tax revenue.

      So the comment that no economist has found it profitable for a city is not true because cities or any government don’t make profits. By hosting these events they aren’t even looking to.

      Second I don’t know that these type of events have not provided net benefits to the communities but I am pretty sure that what they have found is that it wasn’t as high as anticipated.

      As far as wear and tear is concerned as someone who has lived in a 130 year old house that was not built to commercial specs and it was doing pretty well. Commercial building standards are pretty good and the incremental wear and tear is probably too much.

      • Submitted by Chris Williams on 07/28/2014 - 01:16 pm.

        Wear and Tear…

        Considering since the mid 1960’s the average stadium lifespan is 30 years or less, I don’t know that wear and tear really comes into it. On the other hand, I don’t know why these stadiums that are perfectly good, and economically feasible keep getting replaced. I mean, when the Metrodome was announced and funded they sure didn’t plan to lose money.

        If Zygi can’t stay profitable in a rent-free, no-lease, paid-for stadium, with every home game sold out, I don’t know that an even bigger palace is the answer. I mean, how much more is the average person attending a game going to fork over? How many more jerseys are they realistically going to buy? How many more hotdogs? There seems to be this trend that if you just build in more bars, more restaurants, more souvenir stands, that somehow Joe Public is going to have more disposable income to throw your way.

        If we look at the twins stadium, it took only 3 years to drop back down to the attendance levels seen by the metrodome. Last seasons attendance figures were roughly the same as the final year in the metrodome (2.47 million in 2013 vs 2.41 million in 2009, and one could argue that 2009 was far harder on people economically). The vikings are a bit of a different story, since they routinely sell out – but I think we can anticipate a similar trend. A “euphoric honeymoon” of three or so years and interest levels and spending to drop back down to the current levels. That’s my guess anyway.

  6. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/25/2014 - 12:03 pm.

    The unasked questions: who gets the revenue ?…And…

    …who pays the expenses ?

    These extravaganzas are falsely portrayed AS IF providing revenue in general to the local economy, whereas in fact VERY FEW businesses get that revenue.

    The businesses who get the money from these events are mainly downtown businesses (as well as, of course, the professional sports owners).

    The parties who pay the expenses are mainly the taxpayers.

    So the beneficiaries, those downtown businesses, take the revenue and hand the bills to the taxpayer. How sweet !! The “booster organizations” – like Meet Minneapolis – are essentially composed of or supported by those same organizations who get the money – no wonder !!

    So it’s not just a question of what is the overall net gain or loss. At least not from the taxpayer’s point of view. It’s who gets to enjoy the gains and who gets to enjoy the losses. These two are not the same parties.

    No analysis is complete without a thorough consideration of this fact, even if a professional economist may have little concern with who’s getting the profit, who the loss.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/25/2014 - 01:04 pm.

    Who pays?

    It certainly makes sense that those who benefit directly from having these events here should bear the cost. Millions of Minnesotans will not be attending the Super Bowl in 2018. Millions of Minnesotans will not benefit in any tangible or intangible way from the game being held here. Those folks shouldn’t have to pay for it. But that goes to the specifics of how the deal is made, and what we need to do is make sure those who make the deal don’t make promises that others have to pay to keep. I would like to think that our news organizations and other watchdog types keep track of that and make sure that the cost of these events is borne by those who will be making a lot of money from them.

    A part of what’s going on here is after sale reinforcement. We, the taxpayers, spent a lot of money on these buildings, and those who advocated seem to feel a need to reassure us that we got a good deal. They are doing it ways that seem kind of lame, and kind of beside the point. We are told at great lengths that the All Star Game is a big deal, with special sections in the paper. It isn’t of course. No one cares. Sports fans do care about the Super Bowl, but what matters to them is that their team plays in it, not where it is held. But the backers of these projects don’t really care about the games themselves, and don’t really to attempt to understand those who do. For them, the buildings were an end to themselves, projects from which they could make money. They don’t really care what happens inside them, and they don’t understand or respect the mindset of those who do. They are incredibly excited by the money they will make and they don’t understand why their excitement isn’t shared.

    I have never met a sports fan who wouldn’t trade a good stadium for a good team.

  8. Submitted by John Ferman on 07/25/2014 - 01:12 pm.

    To Jody

    Are the DEED sales tax data sufficiently fine-grained to balance all circumstances. For example, sales taxes on event trinkets would be an up, but what was the effect on gift shop sakes taxes at, say, Walker Art Center. Also, is it fair to lump-in sales tax activity at the, say, Mall of America.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 07/25/2014 - 03:48 pm.

      Mr. Ferman my answer is

      I think so. Sales tax is I believe reported on a fairly routine basis by individual businesses so you could if you wanted to do two things. Clump by NAICS code (North American Industrial Classification System) and see which businesses had a bump or lump by zip code and see what zip codes were impacted. That is the data the Department of Revenue needs to collect to do its job.

      DEED is the designated state data manager. If I understand correctly they are charged with collecting all state data and insuring that privacy is maintained and there is a legitimate need for collection. Sometimes there is a fee.

      Individual data can not be disclosed but groups of data can so while you can’t find out if Macy’s Minneapolis got a bump in some sales you could find out if Minneapolis retail or Minneapolis Restaurants got a bump. Since we don’t tax clothing we may miss some serious shopping sprees but it should give you some idea.

  9. Submitted by Adam Miller on 07/25/2014 - 02:54 pm.

    Number 3

    I’ve never been a big fan of the third critique. Economic activity has benefits here regardless of where the corporate parent has its headquarters. It means jobs, tax revenue and subsequent consumption in the local economy.

    And, of course, we don’t do it for any other kind of business. A company like Wells Fargo conducts a lot of business in our town, but we don’t exclude it from measurements of the local economy because it’s not headquartered here.

    For that matter there’s not necessarily any way to tell where the “profits” of these business go anyway. Maybe some of the additional revenue gets reinvested in the local property. Maybe some of it gets paid out in dividends to shareholders of the company that live in the area. Its far to simplistic to simply declare all of the corporate profits to be outside the local area.

    And, finally, even if every business that benefited from these events was closely held by individuals who live in our community, there’s no less chance that the “profits” don’t end up elsewhere when those individuals invest in non-Minnesota companies, go on lavish vacations elsewhere, or purchase luxury good made outside the state.

    There just isn’t much “there” in the observation that large corporations who aren’t headquartered here might also benefit from events held here.

  10. Submitted by David Broden on 07/25/2014 - 03:47 pm.

    Long Term Jobs and Economic Growth or Mega Shows- The Choice???

    This is my second entry in this discussion. To make it simple the question all of MN needs to ask is; Which is more important to the state; A) Attracting,keeping,and expanding business;/industry jobs through a highly educated workforce that is adaptable to the changing economy or B) promoting mega show events over jobs. How about someone expressing some thoughts regarding these alternatives?? Is there really any choice to be made– the rationale answer is obviously the action may be just the opposite? I look forward to some discussion on this choice.

    Dave Broden

  11. Submitted by Tate Ferguson on 07/26/2014 - 07:13 am.

    Because it’s fun…

    …is the only intellectually acceptable argument for an All-Star Game, a Super Bowl, etc. I wish that these events’ proponents would cease the “economic benefits” b.s., which fools no one. If what you want is sports excitement, then openly say so, without any spurious justifications of practicality.

    The All-Star game is another chapter in the long history of Minnesota’s grossly overpaying for sports entertainment. I would guess that sports promoters are attracted to the credulous, starry-eyed politicians of our state* like moths to a flame.

    * admittedly, not ALL our politicians

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/26/2014 - 08:59 am.

    Promotional opportunities are one thing we got in exchange for the 477 million dollars we invested in the Vikings. For a week or so, there will be attention focused on Minneapolis from the sports media four years from now. Lots of local logos will be visible. Sanford’s name will probably appear on a visible nearby building. Of course, we will be promoting Minnesota in the depths of winter, something of a mixed blessing, I suppose.

    There was some promotion of Minnesota during the All Star Game too, but the problem there is that the All Star Game just isn’t that big a deal. It’s just a two day event. IMost people prefer to take it off. I don’t think there was much national coverage. Leading cable sports shows weren’t broadcast from here. By now, it’s completely forgotten.

    In terms of promotional impact, it would make more sense to take the money we put into these events and spend it on acquiring better players. For example, the fact that we will have a Super Bowl in the distant future in no way compensates for the fact that we have a poor football team now, one that rarely appears on national TV or goes deep in the playoffs. Over the years, the cumulative promotion impact a great team generates far it’s community far exceeds that of one time events like the Super Bowl. If you don’t believe try an experiment. Ask anyone where the 2013 Super Bowl was held. And then ask them where the Packers play. I bet you will get far more correct answers to the second question than you will the first.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/26/2014 - 11:25 am.

    I remain skeptical

    As a general rule I suspect there is actually an inverse relationship between the size of the event, and the public resources put into it, and return to the community. We know that the Olympics for instance are a bust in most circumstances, and that’s about as “mega” as it gets.

    I’m not sure Jody’s tax data is the comprehensive data set she thinks it is. Remember, part of the secret deal to get the Super Ball was no sales tax on a bunch of stuff; in fact I think ticket sales are supposed to be tax exempt aren’t they? Who gets then gets all the revenue from ticket sales? We also know that the associated spending tends to be very narrowly restricted geographically. For instance sales tax studies showed that more spending took place in St. Paul over-all in the absence of pro-hocky one year.

    I suspect the creation and maintenance of amenities like parks, trails, and transit encourage more consumer activity in a given year that benefits the local economy on a broad and comprehensive scale. These big events make a lot of money for the corporate interests behind them, networks, advertisers etc. I don’t think anyone would disagree for instance that while we’re trying to figure out somehow whether or not the Super Ball will bring revenue into the city, there’s no doubt that the NFL and Ziggy will make a huge chunk of bank. I don’t see how you can escape the conclusion that these mega-events are an exercise of spending big public dollars to funnel a huge chunk of change into a small number of hands. The question here seems to be how much of a trickle does the community get? And much trickle is worth it?

    I think the question the authors of the piece raise is whether or not the short term trickles we get from mega-events as result of big public spending are more beneficial than other types of public spending. That requires not only an accurate economic study of the event, but a comparison to the returns on other types of spending. I don’t think there’s any doubt that to the extent that such studies have been done, mega-events fall short. You can’t just look the cost of the event, we couldn’t get the big sports events without spending over a billion dollars on new stadiums and arenas. Sure, once they’re built you may as well use them, but that doesn’t disappear those dollars. And we know putting those dollars into other stuff generates a bigger return for the local economy. So at a rate of $7.5 million in local revenue for the Super Ball, it would take what? We’d have to host the Super Ball every year for 100 years in order to get our investment back?

    Sure, what’s done is done. But even if you just look at the event itself, there’s a big difference between building infrastructure to handle ongoing events on a smaller scale, such as conferences and state tourney’s, and spending big bucks for once every 20 years mega-events. And remember, you don’t get these mega-events without new stadiums and arenas so you can’t just pretend those costs are off the books for the mega-event anyways. Look, it could well be for instance that adding another ten miles of bike trail, will bring in more local spending over the next 20 years than building a new stadium and making another Super Ball bid in 20 years. So it could well be that skipping the mega-events and sticking to the nuts and bolts of livability and local commerce is the best long play. Listen, we haven’t had a Super Ball in over 20 years and Minneapolis is kind of booming anyways, largely because of transit spending, not sports. People aren’t moving to MPLS in order to be next to new stadiums, they’re moving into apartments next to the bike trails along the greenway and the Cedar Trail downtown. And why are talking about sales taxes instead of property taxes that new residents pay? Somehow without a new football stadium MPLS got itself on the “map”. And so did Portland by the way.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/27/2014 - 09:49 am.


      It never seems to occur to us to apply the arguments we make about large scale deals to small scale promotions, despite the fact that they are just as applicable. We have campaigns that encourage tourism in Minnesota. We make efforts to attract new businesses to our communities. Lately, I have been involved with some suburban city council races. It’s pretty much a given across the board that our town should open ourselves up for development. It’s just the exact nature of that development that’s in dispute.

      We can put some money into a stadium. Or we can put some money in bike trails. In both cases the rationale is the same; we are attracting visitors to our community. In both cases you can make the argument that in doing so we are depriving someone else of their business. But if all economic activity is a zero sum game, if one community’s gain is always some other community’s loss, how did our economy ever grow?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2014 - 09:06 am.

        We we

        Hiram, you’re making we we again.

        “It never seems to occur to us to apply the arguments we make about large scale deals to small scale promotions, despite the fact that they are just as applicable.”

        Maybe it doesn’t occur to you. I absolutely apply the same arguments, let’s compare the cost and returns of promoting and staging an art fair to the cost and returns of promoting and staging the super bowl. Let’s compare the cost of building a temporary stage for Rock the Garden to building a billion dollars worth of stadiums. Art fairs are cheap because cities rent the space AND get sales taxes out of the deal. We can get as small as we want, let’s look at all these 5K runs and walks people put on all summer long. When you look at these things you find that the smaller scale events produce much more local spending per cost, and distribute that spending more broadly and locally than building billion dollar stadiums so we can spend millions more bidding for super bowls. Yeah, their smaller scale, but they generate more than $7.5 million once ever 20 years. Hell, for the cost of $2.5 million a year on ALL of our state trails we get $200,000 million back just in the Metro area alone EVERY YEAR. Work that out; it would take 250+ years to spend as much on trails as we spend on one stadium, and we would get several hundred million times the return.

        One thing we know about growing our economy is that we didn’t grow it by building stadiums and arenas and having mega events. On the contrary one can argue that one way we grew the economy by tearing down stadiums and arenas and losing a Hockey team. The Mega Mall generates far more commerce than the North Stars ever did and sustains literally several thousand times as many jobs as any of our arenas or stadiums every year.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 07/28/2014 - 12:51 pm.

      I am going to respectfully disagree with you on two points Mr. U

      First Sales tax data is only part of the picture, there is also wage data and a plethora of other data that I haven’t looked for but I a pretty sure a post event audit is reasonably easy. Saying that the data is there an a fair analysis can be completed is in no way saying that it is a good idea to have mega events.

      The second point I would ask you to do some research on is the return to various recreation or trail activities (yes that is different from commuting and transit) published in I am going to direct you to table 15.1 which indicates that we can create more jobs in the metro area by increasing horse trails (really boarding facilities) than by encouraging any other user sport. I don’t know that the return of the Kenwood stable is really the answer to economic development in the city. Although folks just did propose a stable in Edina, which was really a bad idea.

      Once again cities only attract people who like to live in cities and can afford to live where their children will be well educated and safe. I truly wish the approximately 550,000 that had been added to the metro area had all been added to Minneapolis (wouldn’t that be fun) but that probably wouldn’t have been great for the urban experience with or without bike paths and parks.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2014 - 10:41 am.

        Horses and wages


        Horses? Stables in Kenwood? Kenwood as in MPLS by Lake of the Isles? Hmmm. I love horses but I’m not sure how that would work. Anyways, the table we’re looking does really imply what you’re claiming. These are static numbers of usage and economic impact for one year, you can’t really project anything with this data. You’d need to some kind of data on trends year over year AND some kind of study regarding demand and capacity. It could well be that we’re all ready at full capacity with horses in the Metro, as many people have horses as want them. I found the report to be really interesting however and appreciate the link.

        All I was saying about sales tax was that we can’t really evaluate the value of mega events like the super ball (sic) when the costs are secret. And sales tax data is going to be skewed when sales taxes are waived as part of the deal. As for wages and stuff, wages are tied to jobs so unless a single event is somehow creating jobs rather than using the existing labor force, for instance hiring MORE hotel workers, parking lot attendants, etc, in addition to the ones already working, I don’t know how you get a big bump in wages. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a photographer, I get hired to cover conferences and stuff, but I’m not sure how much stuff like that adds up to, and it’s not like nothing else is going on ever. Our downtown hotels are filled with ongoing ordinary conferences every day, and all those people go to downtown restaurants each evening. I suppose in theory, restaurant workers in some restaurants would make more in tips if those restaurants saw more business, but do they really see that much more business during a super bowl than a regular football game? The stadium doesn’t hold anymore people for the super bowl than it does for a regular game does it?

        And we need to think about the type of event, they’re not all the same. For instance a super bowl is actually limited to the number of people that can fit into the stadium, whereas something like the Stone Arch Bridge Art Fair, or New Years Eve fireworks, or Taste of MN are open ended and in theory can draw two or three times the number of people.

        • Submitted by jody rooney on 07/29/2014 - 11:27 am.

          There actually use to be horses in Kenwood

          My mother in law use to ride there. I think the area near the Episcopal church, and perhaps the stable was where the tennis courts are now. The fountain along the drive around the lake was a horse watering fountain.

          This is one of the many trail user impact studies that have been done you various entities (tourism, dnr, deed, etc. ) in the state over say the past 20 years maybe longer. I think the first one was done in 1984. The metro area does contain quite a bit of rural land, despite the “urban sprawl” hysteria. The thing to remember about horses is that they are owned by people, somewhere between 1-2% of the population and just like cats people own more than 1. So there are actually a lot of people in the metro area and therefore a lot of horses. It is relatively cheap to keep horses in Minnesota because we have good hay land. But enough about horses.

          After a review of the literature on similar studies I think you could develop a pretty good plan to look at the actual impact. It won’t be the be perfect and collect everything but it would give you a comparison to what the “projected” impact was from the study. Sounds like a semesters project for Professor Johnston’s students.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2014 - 03:07 pm.

            OK, I gotta ask….

            “My mother in law use to ride there. ” In Kenwood, there was a stable where the tennis courts are now? I was JUST there last night with my dogs on a walk around Lake of the Isles. That’s some cool history, but when?

            The horses I see while biking are all out on the gravel trails West of the city in MTKA, Orono, etc. You really think there’s room for horses NOW around the city lakes? On the paved Trails?

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2014 - 03:44 pm.

            Let me clarify

            Actually, when I say I remain skeptical, I mean I’m skeptical that mega events pay off for the most part in a significant way, not that the issue could be studied. I agree, one could get into the ballpark so to speak on the economics of it, but it would be complex, and you’d have to mind the assumptions you make.

            When I say I’m skeptical about the pay-off I’m not just talking about economics by the way. In general I’d tend to assume that big local events like the Block Party, Art Fairs, music festivals, etc. generate more for the local economy than imported mega stuff like Olympic games and super bowls. MN has a huge State Fair for instance. The imported events cost soooooo much more to produce in so many ways, and the deals that have to made are very costly. I also think local stuff does more in terms of public relations, it carves out a unique “brand” as it were for the state and metro area. These mega deals are just traveling shows, I don’t think most attendees actually care what city they’re in, they come in, they party, they go home.

            For instance, a lot of young people are moving to Austin TX right now. As far as I know they have no stadiums or pro-teams, and no mega events. What they have is a reputation for an increasing rich and thriving cultural life.

            I’ve always said that one my problems with sport-culture is that it’s too narrow, it’s almost monocultural and I actually thinks that bad for culture and our community. I think in the end we need to have a diverse field of cultural interests and activities in order to thrive, and I don’t mean adding a soccer team to our list of pro-sports teams.

            I have friend who recently moved into a new house and decided to cut the cable TV cord in favor of instant view and through the air TV. He was paying $300 a month for cable. My wife and I have never had cable, but we discover some cable programming on Netflix (bare with me here). So my buddy says he’s cutting the $300 a month cable cord and my wife and I start naming all the cable programs to be found on instant view: “White Collar”, “Psych”, “Longmire”, “Dr. Who”, “Haven”, and a great documentary about one of the killer wales that’s at the San Diego Sea World… my buddies never heard of any of them and didn’t even know they were on cable. So I said: “My god man, what have been paying $300 a month to watch?” He replies: “Uh… sports.” Att’s what I’m talking about.

  14. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/27/2014 - 07:17 am.

    parks & trails & greenways

    Suppose we funded – with public money – a massive development of public spaces along both sides of the Mississippi through Minneapolis and Saint Paul, say 15 or 20 miles of it, with an investment which would no doubt be in the billions.

    I think we’d realize an extremely high value in such a development – and that value would be spread throughout the populace – which would pay and pay and pay not just for years, but for decades. It would be unique in America, I believe.

    The opportunities for new business and residential development would be on such a scale they would be very difficult to estimate. Suffice it to say they would be huge. And since it seems all are agreed that the city would benefit from population growth, this kind of development would definitely draw new people to town.

    Alongside development like this, a corrupt Vikings stadium development would be clearly shown for the small matter that it is – a money grab by a tiny few, paid for by the many who will never receive a penny of benefit.

    (I know there are plans for the river along these lines, but they are way too tepid or half-hearted, IMO.)

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 07/29/2014 - 11:29 am.

      And why exactly would I a resident of

      Stillwater want to do that?

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/30/2014 - 06:45 am.

        If by “do that”, you mean “pay for it”, I can’t think of a…

        …reason you’d want to do that.

        As it would not be be a state-wide project, people from Stillwater shouldn’t be asked to pay for it. Being as close as you are, though, you might find yourself driving in to enjoy some of the public events and activities in such a unique public space.

  15. Submitted by Ted Hathaway on 07/27/2014 - 10:21 pm.

    Badge of Honor

    Getting the All-Star Game and the Super Bowl were Minneapolis’ prize for building new stadiums for the NFL, MLB and their wealthy owners and players. “Here kid, have a chocolate bar,” and all that. Of course the economic impact is minor. It’s about stature. “We got the All-Star Game, Omaha – You didn’t. Ha-ha-ha…” Major league sports has successfully forced cities into a perpetual pissing match with each other over sports events and the holding of teams themselves, knowing that modern politicians are now at the point where they are without any courage.

    Sports is big business, to be sure, but its economic significance is grossly overrated. In the evaluation of the economic/social/cultural amenities of metro areas, sports teams are a marginal consideration at best. Just as Humphrey is always mis-quoted on his “cold Omaha” line, our little boy dreams of sports glory distort the importance to cities of holding sports teams. Los Angeles has not had an NFL team for some two decades now, but no one would suggest LA’s stature has diminished in the least. On the other hand, Green Bay has maintained its franchise for nearly a century, but you could successfully argue that it has less going for it than Duluth.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/28/2014 - 06:22 am.

    think we’d realize an

    think we’d realize an extremely high value in such a development – and that value would be spread throughout the populace – which would pay and pay and pay not just for years, but for decades. It would be unique in America, I believe.

    The problem is that such a development would be hugely expensive, and in strictly economic terms, it would be hard to see any that there would be any positive return.

    I don’t think we will make money from the Vikings Stadium. It’s just too expensive and will be used too little. No one has ever lost the economic argument in opposing these massive sports expenditures. But there is more to the Vikings than just economics. We like NFL football, and sometimes we are willing to pay for things we like without any expectation of a financial return. That is a big part of why we build stadiums.

  17. Submitted by Craig Westover on 07/28/2014 - 08:57 am.

    Spontaneous order happens

    Had me right up to the penultimate paragraph. “Benefits compared to what?” is exactly the right question to ask for mega events or mega expenditures (such as LRT). Resources spent on one thing can’t be spent on another. However, the author’s notion is there is nothing wrong with massive government expenditures; the fault lies with what elected officials spend resources on.

    The assumption is the resources are government’s to spend, when, in fact, they are resources forcibly taken from individuals and the general economy. The proper context of “Benefits compared to what?” is comparison to leaving the resources in the general economy to be used by those who create them to supply the needs and desires of other individuals that make up the organic community.

    Spontaneous order happens.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 07/29/2014 - 11:43 am.

      Mr. Westover a dollar spent is a dollar spent

      People are going to have to get over this idiocy of “privately” spent dollars are some how better than “publicly” spent dollars in Economic terms. And individuals always make better judgements than governments.

      You go out and buy a new Honda (unless it was made here) is not going to do as much for the economy as the same expenditure as filling pot holes in Minneapolis.

      Like it or not there are such things as “public goods” i.e. it is either a benefit to society (public education, courts) or you can’t make a market (flood control and transportation) and someone has to pay for them.

  18. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/28/2014 - 09:35 am.

    Benefits compared to what?

    It’s always a question one can ask, but rarely one that is answered usefully. There is always a better investment out there, a better expenditure of funds. ThereT is just about always a worse investment of funds too. Comparison shopping is fine, but at some point you have to make a decision to buy or not to buy.

    I couldn’t disagree more that the resources are the government’s to spend. The government has no resources at all. It’s our money that’s being spent, and the government is simply the instrumentality we are using to spend it. We bought a stadium, just like we buy a tube of toothpaste. The money is taken from the general economy in the form of income we are paid, and returned to the economy in the form of what we pay for things. The only differences are the amounts that are involved, and the uses to which we put our purchases.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2014 - 09:13 am.

      Again with the “we we”

      “We bought a stadium, just like we buy a tube of toothpaste.”

      We always tangle on this. Hiram tries to pretend that stadium deals are community choices rather than deals amongst and between the economic and political elite. I just remind every one that the only way these stadiums get “bought” by the public is by keeping the public as far away from the purchase deal as possible. “We” like football, sure, but when asked the majority of people say they’d rather lose the team than build them a new stadium. This is NOT how we buy toothpaste.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/30/2014 - 06:39 am.

        “Hiram tries to pretend that stadium deals are community choices rather than deals amongst and between the economic and political elite.”

        We choose the way we choose. The fact is, I think just one elected official across the country has lost reelection because of a pro stadium vote. Polls that say we don’t like stadiums, are really indications that we don’t like to pay for stadiums. We seem to like the buildings and the teams that play in them, just fine. In any event, the deal is done. Now the question is what use will we make of the stadium? Will we use the pink elephant we are constructing nine times in the year 2018 or just 8?

  19. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/29/2014 - 01:00 pm.

    Economic benefit

    I’ll tell you exactly where the economic benefit from me will go for the Super Bowl. The Caribbean. The last time airplane loads of overprivileged clowns came to town (the GOP Convention), I did exactly that–grabbed a cheap flight to Puerto Rico (thanks to full planes coming in and empty ones going out) and cruised in the southern Caribbean.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2014 - 05:24 pm.

    On the other hand…

    Whatever, people like me complain about this stuff but these deals aren’t economic catastrophes, or community catastrophes, they may just be bad policy, but not bad policy like invading Iraq bad policy, we can always do better in the future. A lot people will have a good time in MN and the Twin Cities, that’s not a “bad” thing. But don’t even think about trying to bring the Olympics here.

  21. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/30/2014 - 06:42 am.

    Future events

    I’ll tell you exactly where the economic benefit from me will go for the Super Bowl.

    It’s been noted elsewhere that only totalitarian governments will be able to big ticket events in the future. I think that may apply to Super Bowls as well. I think that there is a substantial possibility that the next Super bowl to be awarded will be given to Russia.

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/31/2014 - 09:06 am.

    By the way..

    Regarding these politicians that don’t get voted out because of stadium deals; I think on local levels there are probably a lot more than one example of folks losing office or endorsements because of stadium votes. I think the shake-up on the MPLS city council can attributed in part to the stadium deal. When you’re winning elections by such narrow margins as folks have been, it doesn’t take much to tip the balance. Basically, you don’t lose elections because of stadiums deals… until you do. These deals are getting so expensive and so duplicitous and so undemocratic that they’re getting more and more and more difficult to pull off.

    The Vikings deal promised on eveyone’s mamma’s grave that the funding would come from e-tabs, NOT the general fund… guess what? And as the true cost of the MPLS buy-in comes to light in the next few years voters may well take note.

    Dayton is lucky for instance that the Republicans can’t muster anything but clowns to run against him this time around. His claim that no one told him about the seat licenses and the dubious nature of the e-tab funding mechanisms was not believable, especially to those of us who clearly remember those discussions having taken place. Combine that with the claim that no one told him there was going to be a problem with the MNSure website, and things could’ve gotten dicey for Dayton. The stadium deal isn’t gong to help him, and it wouldn’t take much to turn it into a liability that he might not be able to afford.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/31/2014 - 12:33 pm.

      I can count one vote he’s lost: mine,….

      …and EXACTLY because of the corrupt stadium boondoggle.

      I don’t care if Bozo the Clown and the Wicked Witch of the West are running against him, I’ll never vote for him again, even if I have to hold my nose while casting a ballot for another candidate. Maybe I’ll write someone in. I figure I couldn’t do worse, and I won’t regard it as throwing my vote away, either..

      • Submitted by jason myron on 07/31/2014 - 04:27 pm.

        Frankly, Steve

        I think you’re penalizing Dayton for showing some serious intestinal fortitude and doing exactly what we elect people to do. I’m no fan of the stadium either, but Dayton sucked it up and made a really tough that Ventura and Pawlenty completely avoided at every opportunity as they didn’t feel there was any political capital to be gained by it. Dayton didn’t care about that…he advanced the conversation, knowing that any decision would upset a large faction of people. Ironically enough, a lot of the Vikings fans that were pushing for this bill STILL hate Dayton and would never vote for him or give him credit for attempting to keep the team based here. I couldn’t care less about the Vikings and I do share your frustration, but the fight is with the economic structure and tactics of the NFL and team owners, not the governor. Like it or not, professional sports does play a role in the economic and social well being of the cites and states the teams are based in.
        Frankly, the REAL blunder was not forcing the Vikings and U of M to share a new stadium situation, instead of building TCF at the behest of boosters who envisioned a return to parades through dinkytown on Saturday afternoons like back in the 60’s.
        Finally…would you really fill-in that little oval for the likes Siefert, Honour or Johnson? Especially knowing what a republican governor would attempt to do to this state? Just take a look east across the river before you answer.

        • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/31/2014 - 05:34 pm.

          I confess to engaging in some excess here, but not to…

          …the extent of voting for the hollow men of the GOP !! I’m angry with Dayton, but not insane !!

          The fight is indeed with the economic tactics of the NFL and its owners, but we did not have a quality representative in that fight in Gov. Dayton, which we needed at the head of the table. Unbelievably, he professed ignorance of the massive lawsuit and the fraudulent business practices of the Wilfs after promoting a huge handout to them of public monies. He didn’t do his homework. He kissed the ring of Roger Goodell, who breezed into town knowing he was dealing with a weakling in the governor’s office and sycophants in the legislature.

          Somewhere, sometime, a city and state is going to stand up to the NFL and tell them to build their own stadium or take their ball and go home. It could have been Minnesota.

          The TCF stadium at the U only adds to the tragic misuse of public funds. These funds should address the public interest in a sound and fundamental way, not the fantasies of U boosters nor the avarice of the NFL and its owners.

          Of course there are supporters of public money paying for professional sports stadiums, but many of those supporters are well-heeled businessmen who want to use it to impress and entertain their clients or reward their employees for business purposes. These are the buyers of most of the pricey seats and boxes. Of course they don’t want to pay the full price !! They wanted a subsidy from the public, and they got it. Another group of supporters are the unions, who want the union jobs and they are damned if they care whether it’s a good use of public monies or not.

          In my view, these professional sports teams have fostered the corruption of local, regional, and state politics, for which we will all pay dearly for years to come. The quality of public representation in these matters have achieved a new low.

          Professional sports in Minnesota plays a minor role or even no role at all in the economic and social well being of most Minnesotans. However, it DOES play a beneficial role in the economic well being of the franchise owners and certain downtown businesses. That’s about it. We had an expert in this matter of economic influence in the legislature at the time this thing was passed – King Banian. He spoke passionately, appealing to the rational mind and the public interest at the time. He was ignored.

          I take your points respectfully, but I have to disagree. I readily admit I am so P.O.’d at Dayton about the corrupt Racketeer Stadium boondoggle, I could spit. Every single time I have seen his name on a ballot – ANY ballot – for many long years, I have voted for him. But he’s gotten his last vote from me. This may not be rational, but it’s what I’ve got to do. It’s my tiny little payback that may not matter to anyone but me.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/01/2014 - 11:31 am.

    Many progressives have reached Steve’s conclusion

    This business of lesser evils frequently leads to democrats forgetting that they actually have a “base”. Many progressives have checked out of the circular “don’t throw your vote away” model over the last few decades. Democrats don’t seem to realize that they need to at least TRY to deliver on some liberal agenda items once and while. If they’re going to pull bait and switches all the time there’s no reason to vote them.

    Abortion rights and labor rights have been deteriorating for years under Democrats, and that’s not a joke.

    Democrats seem to have decided that mile wide but inch deep support is all they need. Sometimes, but when you can’t even beat the worst president in history because you field a guy that voted for the war, you pay the price. When you elect a president that walks away from public options the day after getting elected on a platform of building public option into the health care plan, you lose the House. And so it goes. There’s a difference between not losing elections, and winning them. If you want my vote, you have to earn it, your not entitled to it just because your not a republican.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/01/2014 - 03:11 pm.

      I don’t equate

      making a “once every thirty year” decision with the ongoing fight for labor and abortion rights. Putting more evangelicals and businessmen in positions to continue to erode those rights with legislative majorities isn’t going to help your cause either. To ignore the other good things that Dayton has done simply because we didn’t agree with the stadium deal is pointless and ultimately self destructive, not to mention hypocritical in that most of us ridiculed republican voters who, despite voting their interest 99% of the time, cast out representatives who voted their conscious for marriage equality.

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