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Forbes: Stadium will enrich Vikings owner Wilf, not help taxpayers

Columnist Mike Ozanian says the big proposed public subsidy won’t provide the big boost to the economy that supporters claim but will make Wilf a lot richer.

Forbes columnist Mike Ozanian, who writes about the intersection of money and sports, has been giving a national audience a close look at Minnesota’s stadium debate.

He says today that the big proposed public subsidy probably won’t provide the big boost to the economy that supporters claim.

He notes that Gov. Mark Dayton and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have been pushing hard for a deal that calls for taxpayers to pay 54 percent of the cost of the nearly $1 billion stadium, a public percentage that’s far higher than all but three of the last 10 NFL stadiums.

But he pooh-poohs the claims that a new stadium will generate extra tax revenue and extra spending by fans:

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But those touting the positive economics of the new stadium appear to be looking at history through rose colored glasses and seem to be ignoring the impact past stadiums have had on businesses and taxpayers.

The upshot from UBS: “Independent academic research studies consistently conclude that new stadiums and arenas have no measurable effect on the level of real income or employment in the metropolitan areas in which they are located. Feasibility studies for professional sports facilities often fail to account for the substitution effect. Individuals generally maintain a consistent level of entertainment spending so money spent on sporting events typically comes at the expense of cash spent in restaurants, on travel, and at movie theaters.”

His bottom line:

The new stadium will definitely make team owner Zygi Wilf a lot richer. But it is doubtful it will do much for the pocketbooks of the folks who will be asked to pay for most of it.