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Vikings stadium makes MarketWatch list of ‘Worst Deals from Sports Teams’

The opinion piece by Jason Notte puts Minneapolis in a hall of shame with Atlanta, Glendale, Arizona, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.

The new Vikings stadium under construction in Downtown East.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

Minneapolis and its new $1 billion-plus publicly-subsidized Vikings stadium made the top of a new list from MarketWatch today: “5 Cities Getting the Worst Deal from Sports Teams.”

The opinion piece by Jason Notte says:

Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have all played chicken with taxpayers and threatened to take their ball (or puck) to another city willing to foot the bill for new facilities.

Of the deal in Minnesota, he says:

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How do you get taxpayers to chip in $500 million on a more than $1 billion stadium when only one city, Indianapolis ($620 million), has ever paid that much? Tell them you’ll move their 54-year-old NFL franchise to Los Angeles.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf did just that and got the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis to go along for the ride. With the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome’s roof collapse moving games in 2010 and competing L.A. stadium plans just waiting for a team, Minnesota panicked and came up with a plan for a new stadium on the Metrodome site that the state would pay for through “charitable gambling.” Though the plan was approved in 2012, the funding portion never worked out and led to a tax on cigarette inventory instead.

Minneapolis, meanwhile, will end up paying $678 million over its 30-year payment plan once interest, operations and construction costs are factored in. The city earned a Super Bowl hosting gig in 2018, but also got a 150-page list of Super Bowl demands from the NFL that will only cost the host city and state more money.

The other four on the list are:

  • Atlanta area, where “Cobb County will be borrowing $397 million via bonds, including nearly $300 million that will be paid from property taxes, to finance the new SunTrust Park after Braves ownership decided to leave its current digs at Turner Field for the suburbs.”
  • Glendale, Arizona, “with a $455 million football stadium for the Arizona Cardinals, a 15-year, $225 million arena management contract with the Arizona Coyotes and millions more for a spring-training facility for baseball’s White Sox and Dodgers.”
  • Milwaukee, where the new owners of the Bucks “made the city an offer: Pay us $250 million plus interest for a new arena or lose the team… Surprisingly, in a town that will be paying off the Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park (built in 1996) until 2020, this is not going over well. Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s problem just became Wisconsin’s as the state senate approved a deal for public funding that Gov. Scott Walker is expected to approve. Milwaukee and its surrounding county are now on the hook for what will add up to $400 million over 20 years.”
  • Washington D.C., with Major League Soccer: “D.C. United’s new stadium, and the fact that a portion of the city’s $150 million is coming out of a school-modernization program, is a bit much to swallow. However, D.C. United knows that there are enough towns in the Northern Virginia suburbs looking for a team to make them “big time” that it could have its pick if D.C. didn’t pay. It’s getting a half-price deal on the costliest soccer-only stadium in the country because D.C. doesn’t want the team to flee for the suburbs.”