The first meeting of Stadium Task Force No. 1,347: Seriously … some ways to solve the Vikings dilemma

Ellerbe Beckett's design for a retractable roof Vikings stadium.
Ellerbe Becket
Ellerbe Beckett’s design for a retractable roof Vikings stadium.

Testing one, two, three. Testing. Cough. Gavel. Gavel.

The 1,347th Task Force on Stadiums in Minnesota is called to order. Thank you all for altering your priorities and attending.

Our mission, should we choose to accept it — and frankly, we have to — is to figure out a thoughtful, progressive, Minnesota-ish, 21st-century way to build a new stadium, or recycle the Metrodome, to accommodate our beloved Minnesota Vikings football team. And, yes, missile throwers and naysayers out there, by just about any measure, this team, this sports asset, this brand, is truly beloved by a large portion of our citizens, who also happen to be taxpayers.

But, blockhead boosters and tailgate-tipsy fanatics, we have little patience for you, either. This is not about who shouts the loudest. This is about solving a statewide cultural dilemma.

That includes, you, Sports Media Inc. Puh-leese, stop shilling for the team or, on the other hand, whacking Zygi Wilf and his handlers as if he is the second coming of Norm Green or, even worse in sports these days, Rush Limbaugh. He’s not. Wilf seems to be a decent man. At least, so far. Let’s not personalize this. Let’s get to work.

Some stadium stipulations
Before we call our first witness, I believe we can stipulate a few things:

• Gov. Jesse Ventura — and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in particular — missed opportunities to force the Vikings and University of Minnesota to build one football stadium in this town. It could have been done. It should have been done. Governors are supposed to bang heads and come up with solutions. It would have saved this state hundreds of millions of dollars. A college team and a pro team CAN share a stadium. But those governors stood by and didn’t provide the leadership needed. That was a political and public-spending crime.

All in favor say ‘Aye.’ All opposed say ‘Nay.’ The ayes have it.

• The state’s budget is in serious crisis. Our schools are crumbling. Pre-school education must be funded. Higher education requires our investment. Health care needs to be reformed and available to all. The homeless situation in the Twin Cities is unconscionable. Public transit continues to need improvement. Broadband access is critical the rural communities. Zygi Wilf is richer than all of us put together ever will be.

All in favor say ‘Aye.’ All opposed say ‘Nay.’ The ayes have it.

• We are capable of dealing with many issues on our plate. As someone once said, “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.” Thus, solving the Vikings stadium situation is possible in such an environment. The politics may not allow for it, and, if that’s the eventual outcome, so be it. But a solution is doable. Yes, we can!

All in favor say ‘Aye.’ All opposed say ‘Nay.’ The ayes have it.

• We are not convening this 1,347th Stadium Task Force because the Vikings are undefeated and there is much joy in Purpleland. No, we are convening today in spite of it. We should never build stadiums because teams are winning. We should build and even help to fund stadiums because they make long-term sense for the state and its citizens, or at least as much sense as they do for other states and their citizens. If you’re here to promote a new Vikings stadium because the the team is 6-0, we will ask Capitol security to remove you. If they were 0-6, they’d need a new stadium even more.
 
All in favor say ‘Aye.’ All opposed say ‘Nay.’ The ayes have it.

• Finally, can we stop talking about how Minneapolis or Hennepin County or even the seven or nine counties in the metro area should pay for any new facility? There is no logic to that. If there are any financial benefits that pro sports bring to Minnesota — and we can argue that point at another time — they accrue to the state’s general fund via income and sales taxes. That affects all 87 counties. The Vikings are a state thing, not a Fridley or Chaska thing or a Kenwood thing.

Let’s stipulate that if there is any public funding or financing, it will be state-based and not locally based. Spread the pain, dilute the cost, share the ownership.

All in favor say ‘Aye.’ All opposed say ‘Nay.’ The ayes have it.

Some suggestions
With that preliminary business out of the way, I’d like to make a few suggestions, ask some questions, direct staff to tackle some projects and acknowledge the presence of the Honorable Brett Favre, who registered as a lobbyist today. By the way, Brett, thanks so much for the jersey, the free tickets and the lock of your hair. Really appreciated it. And remember it’s my son’s birthday next week and you’ll call him, right?

My staff has developed a Ten or Eleven Point Program for Re-thinking the Vikings Stadium Conundrum Without Jamming It Down Anyone’s Throat or, more simply, the TOEPPFRTVSCWJIDAT.

1. Let’s build the first “urban football stadium.”

When the Twins ballpark was under discussion, some of us believed it could be a 365-day-a-year edifice, with shops, an urgent-care center, a day-care provider, college class rooms, a police station and other useful entities located right there, at street level, in the stadium itself. Because of the size of the Twins ballpark and its tucked-away location, that didn’t happen. Foot traffic near Target Field will be limited when games aren’t under way.

Can we please examine how to make a new Vikings’ stadium a 365-day-a-year facility? And I don’t mean 350 tractor pulls. With only 10 games a season, this project needs more of a public purpose.

Why not have a Hennepin County Medical Center urgent care facility right there in the refurbished Dome? Why not have a Minneapolis Community & Technical College sports management department right there or food-service training program in the stadium? How about a 24-hour fitness facility there for nearby residents? Any other ideas? The Task Force welcomes them.

2. Someone must explain and justify why a new Vikings stadium needs a roof.

Seems like everyone is happy about an undomed Twins ballpark. Fresh air, the stars and sleet are us. Is a $200 million roof justifiable so that a few high school games can be played there? Or an NCAA Final Four every 10 years? This needs to be examined and justified. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission is pushing for the roof. As a public agency, it must provide us with the cost benefit of a roof for the community. I ask, “Why not an open-air football stadium?”

The only answer I’ve heard is that Greater Minnesota legislators won’t vote for a facility without a roof. How about if the stadium is $200 million cheaper? Ya think that might affect their thinking? Ya think a cheaper stadium could gain some public support in these troubled economic times?

3. Why must a football stadium cost $900 million, or about the same as the entire Central Corridor light rail project?

We must bring the price down. Somehow. And, of course, we must maximize private funding, especially from Wilf and his team.

4. This Task Force will seek information from the University of Minnesota, its architects and designers of TCF Bank Stadium about the viability of enlarging that facility to 70,000 seats for the use of the Vikings.

Can luxury suites be added in a rational way? Can pricey club seats be added? At this point, it’s likely impossible, I know, but we need to leave no Kasota stone unturned. Let’s examine every possibility. Staff, we need this within a month.

5. It seems trendy, it seems pandering, but this is a must. Any new Vikings stadium must be as green and environmentally responsible and sustainable as possible.

I will not sponsor any bill that doesn’t seek the highest standards and guidelines. One reason — not the only reason, of course — that the Metrodome is outdated is its incredible energy and maintenance costs.

6. As chairman of this Task Force, I hereby order and direct staff to begin conversations with Mr. Wilf, his aides, lawyers, accountants and locker room attendants to investigate the prospect of the state of Minnesota gaining a sizable ownership stake in the team as part of any stadium deal.

In 2009, with the U.S. government owning parts of auto companies and banks, why shouldn’t the citizens of Minnesota own a piece of an NFL team? We will hear from the Vikings about a “public-private partnership.” Let’s have a true partnership.

During the Twins ballpark debate, many of us pooh-poohed a public ownership notion, promoted mostly by activist Julian Lozcalzo. It’s time to re-examine Lozcalzo’s idea.

7. The Vikings must open their books to the public, and those finances must be examined by auditors appointed by the Legislature. If there is public funding or financing to be had here, we need to understand the differences among the Vikings and other NFL teams, particularly those in the NFC North division.

We also must seek an appraisal, from a responsible sports finance agency, of the value of the team in the Metrodome, in a new Minnesota stadium and, should it occur, in a new city. These appraisals will help guide all of us through this painful process. And also aid us in any public ownership conversation.

8. The Vikings and their supporters continue to assert that construction of the stadium will “create” thousands of jobs. Where’s the proof?

We need a third-party analysis of such a claim. Won’t these jobs exist if we build public housing or university labs instead? Let’s get these numbers and examine them. Empirical studies have long concluded that stadiums don’t create jobs.

9. This morning, I directed task force counsel to look into obtaining from Mr. Wilf and his partners a pledge that he will have no conversations or negotiations with any prospective buyers from outside Minnesota for a period of two years.

We will seek a pledge from Mr. Wilf that he will roll up his sleeves and think outside-of-his-shopping-mall-developer box to solve the Vikings’ stadium issue. If we’re thinking creatively, he must do so, too.

Frankly, sir — and I know you’re watching this on The Uptake — if you insist on leveraging a new stadium for some cockamamie development around the stadium, you will lose political support. If this stadium effort is just a real estate play for you, it will not fly. Unless, of course, you want to build the stadium privately, with your own alleged millions and billions and zillions. We’ll help you with roads and sewers, no problem. See me after this meeting and we’ll make a deal.

Then, this Task Force can move onto other pressing matters … such as refurbishing Target Center.

One other thing: Our lawyers are drawing up papers urging Mr. Wilf to waive his First Amendment right, and those of his lobbyists, so that they are prohibited from uttering the words “Los Angeles,” “time is running out,” and “Zygi may want to keep the team here, but we can’t be sure about his partners.”

10. The Minnesota Department of Management and Budget has been asked to compile for this Task Force the varieties of taxes and fees that other communities have used to help fund sports and recreation facilities. Other middle-size cities and states have helped to pay for sports, arts and cultural assets with creative funding mechanisms, and some traditional ones, such as hotel and rental car taxes. Let’s look at them all. Let’s debate them. But let’s have a full conversation. Staff, I’d like that list with two weeks.


And we are hereby requesting from the Vikings organization a full report of their market study — you’ve done one, yes, Mr. Lobbyist? — of whether the Twin Cities — with two arenas and two new stadiums — can support even more corporate suites and club seats, and another naming rights deal. Also, please share with us any surveys you’ve conducted with your season ticket holders about how much they are willing to invest in seat licenses to retain their seats in a new stadium. We are expecting fans and corporate sponsors to pay for a large chunk of this project.

If I may digress … One thing that really ticks me off is those people who complain about rich owners and rich players but who sit in front of their TV every Sunday and cheer for the Vikings and tweet to each other about it. Couch potatoes, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t embrace a product, live and die with it, and then not help pay for it.

Well, I see our time’s up. I appreciate all your input today. It was a robust discussion. Great insights from all of you. We’re making progress. Let’s meet again next week. Mr. Favre, sorry we took you away from your deep-muscle massage. Thanks for the autographed picture.

This first meeting of the 2009-10-11 Minnesota Stadium Task Force is hereby adjourned. Now, let’s get to work.

All in favor say ‘Aye.’ All opposed, say ‘Nay.’ The ayes have it.

Jay Weiner can be reached at jweiner [at] minnpost [dot] com.

Comments (190)

  1. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 10/19/2009 - 10:34 am.

    Jay says: “Our mission, should we choose to accept it — and frankly, we have to — is to figure out a thoughtful, progressive, Minnesota-ish, 21st-century way to build a new stadium, or recycle the Metrodome, to accommodate our beloved Minnesota Vikings football team.”

    Um – why? The citizens of our state are “beloved” by people – themselves and their families, for starters. Governor BridgeFAIL knocked 35,000 off health care. Love your priorities, Jay. You like the Vikes – we get it. Why don’t you buy the billionaire a new stadium?

  2. Submitted by Jeff Cagle on 10/19/2009 - 10:57 am.

    Point of order, Mr. Chairman, but you left out one big question that Mr. Wilf, his lawyers, his aides, and the NFL need to answer: Does it make good business sense to move a great team out of a competitive conference and put in with an awful NFC West? Maybe I’m mistaking, but St. Louis doesn’t exactly count as a “North team,” and they’re in worse financial shape than the Vikings.

  3. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/19/2009 - 11:03 am.

    Jay… as usual most of your points are spot-on, but here’s how I’d modify your suggestions. Point #1: not to cry over spilt milk, but our TwinDomes proposal would have satisfied the wants, needs, and expectations of the Twins, Vikings, and Gophers and it would have cost $1 billion less to build than three stand-alone stadiums. Catch phrase: TwinDomes for the TwinCities. Point #2: Zygi won’t be satisfied with just a normal open-air stadium. During a special stadium commission meeting in Aug. ’05, Zygi said he wanted a $650 million open-air stadium with 8500 indoor “club seats.” Bet that would cost at least $800 million today, but we do need a retractable-roof stadium. #4 The Gophers stadium is a collegiate stadium. College teams can play in pro-style stadiums without a subsidy, pro-teams can’t pay in college stadiums without a subsidy. Point #5: A “green” stadium?… why not? Point #6: Community ownership? Ain’t gonna happen. Team owners keep financial score with franchise “market values”… franchise appreciation in how team owners benefit… 80% of Red’s profit windfall came from franchise appreciation. Zygi’s not going to share his profit. Point # 7: Have the Vikings open their books? LMAO… you’re joking, right?

    Bottom line: there’s no bad time for a good stadium deal and no good time for a bad deal. This would be a very good time for a good stadium deal… The deal that’s currently on the table is a very, very bad deal… it’s the “sweetheart” deal of all “sweetheart” deals.

  4. Submitted by myles spicer on 10/19/2009 - 11:19 am.

    I can tell you the “Minnesota-ish” solution to this; upgrade the Metrodome! It truly was built “the Minnesota way” at $51 million…on budget…on schedule…practical, functional and certainly not old enough for a tear down. Using Dallas as the example of outrageous opulance — football is a fine sport which does not need PALACES for play and enjoyment. Wilf “promised” never to move the team…well here we go again. He has a loyal fan base, his investment is safe, his facility if upgraded and modernized will do just fine. Now the ball is in court — let him KEEP his promise.

  5. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 10/19/2009 - 11:22 am.

    I agree with the first commenter. Stadiums, especially one-team stadiums, should be privately built, like the one in LA that may soon start to lure the Vikes. We don’t have enough money to balance the state budget without cutting programs for the poor and playing with the books to cover deficit spending.

    Too bad Vikings fans. We spend a billion on a new stadium and 500 million of that goes to increasing the value of the team to its owner, who is now free to sell and bank the profits.

    If each of the 60k fans who are at the home games were to send teh owner 10 thousand dollars, the financing would be almost done.

    The only reason for another commission is not because the citizens can’t make up their minds but because the Vikings fans can’t take no for an answer.

  6. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 10/19/2009 - 11:25 am.

    Sorry Jay but the “just use the Gophers stadium for the Vikings” train has long left the station. And it’s not just adding 20,000 more seats and luxury suites to make it palatable for the Vikes. The layout, locker rooms, concessions, seating, transportation system, and utilities are not in a configuration that any professional team would accept. Also what would you do with the 15,000 “M”s embossed on everything from seats, to elevators, to walkways. It just ain’t happening.

  7. Submitted by Justin Heideman on 10/19/2009 - 11:27 am.

    It seems pretty clear to me that the Stadium should be built: In Los Angles. Let the vikings go. We don’t have the money. If California thinks they do (they don’t), let them pay for it.

    Publicly financed stadiums are a boondoggle and the last thing we need is another one even bigger than the last two.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/19/2009 - 11:29 am.

    “As chairman of this Task Force, I hereby order and direct staff to begin conversations with Mr. Wilf, his aides, lawyers, accountants and locker room attendants to investigate the prospect of the state of Minnesota gaining a sizable ownership stake in the team as part of any stadium deal.”

    Why would we want to be owners of the Vikings? Can we be sure that the Vikings will pay a dividend sufficient to justify the cost of purchasing an equity interest in the team? How would we view that equity interest, as an investment that might be sold at some point? Or something we would hold onto permanently?

  9. Submitted by Mike Owens on 10/19/2009 - 11:30 am.

    A quick correction on #7 – the Vikings play in the NFC North. The NFC Central hasn’t existed for several years now.

  10. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/19/2009 - 11:32 am.

    “Why don’t you buy the billionaire a new stadium?”

    I can’t speak for Jay, but my guess that even as a highly paid Minnpost.com correspondent, he probably doesn’t have enough money in his bank account to cover the check.

  11. Submitted by Sean Broom on 10/19/2009 - 11:34 am.

    **6. As chairman of this Task Force, I hereby order and direct staff to begin conversations with Mr. Wilf, his aides, lawyers, accountants and locker room attendants to investigate the prospect of the state of Minnesota gaining a sizable ownership stake in the team as part of any stadium deal.**

    I’m pretty sure this is against NFL rules.

    And to Rob, because that’s not how this works, lots of things in life aren’t fair, and for everyone who wants to support universities or parks, or whatever there are people who want their football.

    Sean Broom

  12. Submitted by William Souder on 10/19/2009 - 11:34 am.

    You raise a series of interesing questions. Here are three for you:

    1. Must we characterize anyone opposed to publicly-subsidized stadium as a “naysayer” or a “missile-thrower?” These labels suggest that stadium opponents are stupid, backward, and hostile to progress.

    2. Why no discussion of stadiums that have been successfully developed with private money?

    3. If the Vikings are, as you say, “beloved” by the taxpayers of Minnesota, then may we submit any publicly-funded stadium plan to a statewide referendum?

    Hey…just asking.

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/19/2009 - 11:37 am.

    “9. This morning, I directed task force counsel to look into obtaining from Mr. Wilf and his partners a pledge that he will have no conversations or negotiations with any prospective buyers from outside Minnesota for a period of two years.”

    This is unenforceable and somewhat unrealistic. There are other deals out there. We know it. Zygi knows it. No one has to communicate directly with Zygi or his partners for the outlines of such deals to become known to Zygi, and for that matter, us. Nothing is to be gained by hiding or pretending to hide from information.

    Whether the Vikings stay here or not is up for auction. The interests of all are better served by having more information, not less.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/19/2009 - 11:40 am.

    Last comment (for a while).

    “7. The Vikings must open their books to the public, and those finances must be examined by auditors appointed by the Legislature. If there is public funding or financing to be had here, we need to understand the differences among the Vikings and other NFL teams, particularly those in the NFC Central division.”

    Why? If the Vikings move, it will be because they have a better offer, and I am pretty sure that offer will not come from any of the existing teams. Their finances are irrelevant. What is relevant is the financing of any competing offer, and it will be in neither the interests of the Vikings nor the offeror to make such information public.

  15. Submitted by Don Effenberger on 10/19/2009 - 12:10 pm.

    Re: Comment #10. Noted and corrected. Thanks.

  16. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/19/2009 - 12:14 pm.

    Some facts to consider:

    1. Zygi & Co. bought the Vikings franchise for $600 million in 2005.

    2. Forbes currently values the Vikings franchise at $835 million based on their 2008 financial numbers.

    3. The average value of an NFL franchise is now $1.042 BILLION.

    4. The NFL will charge an existing team about a $300 million relocation fee to move into the lucrative L.A. market.

    5. High debt and poor stadium revenues make Zygi & Co. cash flow poor, but they’re equity rich.

    Conclusion: In 2012, the Vikings under new ownership will be singing “California, Here I Come” while Zygi laughs and sings “Don’t Cry for Me, Minnesota” all the way to the bank.

  17. Submitted by Michael Friedman on 10/19/2009 - 12:19 pm.

    As a taxpayer, I would rather pay to fly 55,000 fans (Dome capacity) to LA for eight games (plus playoffs) a year for the next 20 years with one night hotel than build a new stadium. It would be much, much cheaper for me. (At $1,000 per fan per game, an obvious overestimate, this would come to $88 million.) LA gets its stadium and their locals can buy any excess stadium seats and fill the suites. Fox can still broadcast all Vikings game as if they remain our home team. For 99% of Vikings fans, this would make no difference at all to their current experience of fandom.

  18. Submitted by Susan Lesch on 10/19/2009 - 12:24 pm.

    Mr. Weiner, sorry to see you say this has to happen. Once upon a time you knew better than that.
    http://www.minnesotamonthly.com/media/Minnesota-Monthly/November-2007/Getting-our-Fix/

    I am also sorry to see another stadium discussed without once even mentioning that this is for MEN’s football and not for WOMEN’s football. That is, coming from you, evidence enough of a patriarchy which I cannot stomach much longer.

  19. Submitted by Glenn Gilbert on 10/19/2009 - 12:35 pm.

    Let’s face it, this debate (which started with the Target Center bailout) won’t be over until the Viking are addressed.

    The Gopher Stadium brings a real college football atmosphere back to campus where it belongs –if only for a few weekends each fall. But the stadium is more than that. It’s a gathering place for the U community, and it brings the entire campus back to the facilities-set one expects from a big-time public institution.

    The Twins ballpark is beautiful and finally gets us back to the way the game is best enjoyed: outside in the sun. It’s a game without a clock but measured by dramatic moments. In between those moments it’s best enjoyed by good conversation and fresh air. And unlike the Vikings, the Twins are a significant economic engine with 80+ home games a year.

    The Wild have the greatest arena experience in pro hockey and a bright future. The Timberwolves, well I don’t follow basketball so I shouldn’t comment, but that nice “green” roof on the Target Center looks pretty from the air when I see shots of Target Field.

    But these days the NFL is king; here and nationwide. And the Vikings’ 6-0 start is only going to bring that point home with greater intensity the more they succeed. The bandwagon is broad and wide and we’re going to jump on board with increasing fervor.

    But we have unresolved issues with the Vikings too. We’re proud of Bud Grant’s legendary stoicism and “no heaters on the sidelines”, but we haven’t gotten over 0-4 in the big one. Then there’s the more recent heartbreak of the 15-1 run in 1998.

    I predict the public becomes more charitable toward the team if they finally heal these wounds and take us all the way. One question: where will they play during the inevitable season of renovations/reconstruction?

  20. Submitted by Michael Hunt on 10/19/2009 - 12:38 pm.

    Hey Rob & Bill! Can you tell me exactly how many social problems need to be cured before Vikings fans can have a stadium? Let’s see, you’ve only mentioned health care for all and a complete end to poverty. Is that it? Or are there a few more? I just want to know so I can cross them off my list before I have the right to come back to the table. Thanks a lot.

  21. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/19/2009 - 01:08 pm.

    The Vikings would play 2 seasons in the Gophers stadium while a new stadium is being built on the Metrodome site.

    I predicted that would happen in 2003… At that time I was told the Vikings would need a $15 million subsidy for “lost revenues” for each season played in the Gophers college style stadium.

    Wonder why no one’s talking about what a subsidy would be now.

  22. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 10/19/2009 - 01:10 pm.

    Michael Hunt: For one, let’s put those 35,000 back on health care. Then we can talk. Although I do like Michael Friedman’s idea. It would free us from the baloney homerism of this column.

  23. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 10/19/2009 - 01:52 pm.

    Ok, I don’t mind most of this column, but I have to take exception to a cheap shot in here:

    “If I may digress … One thing that really ticks me off is those people who complain about rich owners and rich players but who sit in front of their TV every Sunday and cheer for the Vikings and tweet to each other about it. Couch potatoes, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t embrace a product, live and die with it, and then not help pay for it.”

    Many problems there, including:
    1) Some of those couch potatoes may not be able to afford to go to a game, but they contribute to ratings numbers, which go into TV contracts, which go to teams.
    2) Some also feel the urge to buy a new jersey every time there is a new savior in town, and in case you haven’t noticed, the profit margin on those 100+ dollar pieces of fabric is pretty sweet.
    3) Some of us with young kids wouldn’t go to a Vikings game, because we don’t feel like explaining the meaning of various phrases and gestures (even though some are pretty self-explanatory). Leaving the kids home with a sitter adds another 40+ bucks to an already expensive afternoon– thanks, I’ll stick with the couch, and good beer from the fridge at 8 bucks a 6-pack, vs 8 bucks a glass for swill.
    4) This would only be a valid argument if you assumed no general funds were going into a new stadium. Which is highly unlikely. So those couch potatoes will be paying, and get to gripe all they want, since they won’t have any other way to make themselves be heard.
    5) Many of us fit part of your description- we watch the game on TV, we enjoy it, but that’s it. Most of us have no desire to tweet, comment on facebook, or do much else about the vikings. We watch the games, we sometimes have friends over to watch together, but it’s really just entertainment, not life and death. If some other city feels the urge to cave to a billionaire’s demands, so that he can be a bit richer, by all means, they should do so. Most of us will survive. The people that rabidly fill comment page after comment page on the strib after every game may be inconvenienced, but they’ll find something else to obsess about.

  24. Submitted by John N. Finn on 10/19/2009 - 01:58 pm.

    I’m surprised that no mention has been made of using gambling revenues as a way to finance a new stadium. It would work, but maybe we’re at the point of having moral reservations about expanding “gaming”.

  25. Submitted by Michael Friedman on 10/19/2009 - 02:06 pm.

    Thanks, Rob. I should also note that using Sun Country and other local charters to fly the fans to L.A. and Carlson Hotels to house them, would provide more tax capture (and other local economic advantages) and longer lasting employment than taxing football players for games played here (offset by facility maintenance costs) and employing construction workers for two years.

  26. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 10/19/2009 - 02:24 pm.

    A new football stadium? We have to make Joe Mauer a multi-multi millionaire first!

  27. Submitted by Sean Broom on 10/19/2009 - 02:26 pm.

    To the author and editor, this is what I mean.
    http://www.newrules.org/publications/roots-roots-roots-home-team-communityowned-professional-sports

    http://www.pbs.org/livelyhood/ourtowns/nflrules.html

  28. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/19/2009 - 02:49 pm.

    While it is possible the Vikings could move to Los Angeles, the risk for them is that there are several other franchises who are also threatening to go to LA. If one of them gets in ahead of the Vikings, then that threat becomes significantly emptier because other than LA, there aren’t that many places the Vikings can move where they will be better off than they are.

  29. Submitted by Bob Quarrels on 10/19/2009 - 02:54 pm.

    Jay’s right. In this culture, a new stadium is inevitable, either for the Vikings or a more expensive one to lure a new team once they’ve left. What we need is level-headed discussion and negotiation. The sick children vs. senior-citizens-love-their-Vikes-on-radio debate hasn’t accomplished anything.

    A governmental stake in the team is only right. NFL rules may not allow it, yet hated rival Green Bay owns its team. Given the NFL monopoly, it’s a lawsuit worth pursuing.

    A privately built project needs pursuing, too, since the Wilfs don’t seem to be studying it.

    The main point is, there should be negotiation over how much it costs and how much the team puts up. How much would a stadium cost without Kasota stone walls or Cambria counters in the suites? Why don’t naming rights go to the owners of the stadium (us) rather than the tenant? Let’s find out.

    For better or worse, the 35,000 sick kids are another discussion. Thanks, Jay, for this one.

  30. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/19/2009 - 03:01 pm.

    COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP?

    Ain’t gonna happen. Does anyone really think the team owners will vote to kill their goose that lays golden eggs?

    The Green Bay situation was grandfathered in long ago… never to happen again with any major sports teams.

    Zygi will be selling his golden egg for $900 million to $1 billion soon and it will be carefully packed and shipped to L.A. in 2012 unless someone provides some real stadium issue leadership… Normally, team owners provide the leadership to make new stadiums a reality. Zygi’s not.

    Does anyone think Jerry Jones wasn’t the driving force behind the “Dallas Palace?” or Robert Kraft for Gillette Stadium? or Jerry Richardson for the Panthers stadium? or the owners of any teams playing in any new stadiums?

    At the very least, Zygi need a new stadium issue quarterback. Someone tell him I’m available.

  31. Submitted by Michael Ernst on 10/19/2009 - 03:14 pm.

    Re: Comment #16

    I can see it now: “Welcome to the Minnesota Vikings Stadium Membership Drive! We’re sorry to interrupt the game with this pledge drive, but we need to get 3,000 new or renewing members to call in a pledge before we go back to our live broadcast. Hopefully we can get those calls before the 2 minute warning.” :o)

  32. Submitted by Joel Koepp on 10/19/2009 - 03:36 pm.

    I take Mr Friedman’s comment at #19 as tongue-in-cheek, but for the record…

    Flying 55,000 people to Los Angeles 8 times a year for 20 years at $1,000 a pop comes out to a total of $8.8 *BILLION*, not $88 million.

  33. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/19/2009 - 03:56 pm.

    Joel… stop confusing us with facts.

  34. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 10/19/2009 - 03:59 pm.

    One unanswered question: who gets the money from events other than Vikings games? High school tournaments, rock concerts, whatever; who gets that money? Organizers take a split I assume but would they split with the Vikings or the public? If the public gets that money, I’m probably on board.

  35. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 10/19/2009 - 05:11 pm.

    I’m fine with renovating Metrodome, it’s a good location and the infrastructure is already there. Leave the roof on though, this retractable roof stuff is nonsense. A retractable roof is an extra $200M which works out to an extra $1M per game over the next 20 years. Everyone knows it will be closed 5 or 6 of the 8 regular season games anyway due to cold or inclement weather. If you want to experience outdoor football go see the Gophers.

    The public makes out much better paying the entirety of a $300M Metrodome renovation than paying the 75% “public share” of a $1B colosseum.

  36. Submitted by chuck holtman on 10/19/2009 - 05:22 pm.

    It is fine with me that some people enjoy watching others play a football game, and even that for some reason they get emotional satisfaction from doing so. But with the arctic ice about to disappear for the next few millenia, am I the only one who ponders the environmental sustainability of my diversions? Is no one else given pause by the extraordinary amount of stuff that is wrenched from the earth to build going on three stadiums in this city and the extraordinary amount of carbon emitted in doing so, just so some folks can get together to watch some other folks play football and baseball? Is there a point at which we need to decide that fishing, bicycling, growing vegetables and spending time with the kids is a pretty good slate of activities? Or are we fine with the extinction of our species, provided the home team wins the Super Bowl first? (Guess I’m the most popular guy on the block now …)

  37. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/19/2009 - 07:40 pm.

    These welfare programs for billionaires have been out of control for decades. I can’t believe you chumnps are gonna fall for this again. I wish you’d figure out how to be conned without taking my money along with yours.

  38. Submitted by Mike Beard on 10/19/2009 - 09:13 pm.

    As much as I hate to admit it, this too will end up just like pro hockey in the Twin Cities. The North Stars wanted a new arena. We sent them packing to Dallas. 5 years later, people cannot believe we don’t have pro hockey in Minnesota. Soon a city (in this case St. Paul) builds an arena for twice the price we could have done it 5 years earlier. The same will happen with football. I agree with the idea of giving them $200 million and remodel the Metrodome. Use the roof…quit kidding ourselves…a retractable roof will be closed 80% of the time…and open air..yeh sure, we’re tough just like those people in the 60’s…in this spoiled day and age this won’t fly. My main point of disagreement with the article…this will economically benefit the community it is built and and they should contribute more towards its payment. The idea that this is “Minnesota’s team” and I am going to benefit from this living in Bemidji is a pipedream.

  39. Submitted by Howard Miller on 10/19/2009 - 09:33 pm.

    I dunno. I’d miss the Vikings, but there’s more serious stuff that really needs attending – that the Vikings don’t want to play in the HHH Dome anymore is … well … just not a crisis.

    If these private business people – owners and players – think they’d be better off elsewhere, good luck!

    Now, let’s find a way to fix and/or get out of Afghanistan ….. pull out of Iraq …

    put those kids back on medical insurance coverage in Mn …. keep the doors open on the State in the face of crashing revenue forecasts ….

  40. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/19/2009 - 10:20 pm.

    We don’t have to have to pro-sports teams, so the idea that we either pay now or pay later is ridiculous. I can imagine a MN without the Vikings, and it’s still a great place to live, maybe even a little better because we deploy public resources for truly public projects. By the way Mr. Weiner, the “eyes” don’t have it, they never do. The only way you’re gonna get your Vikings stadium is the way you got all the other stadiums, you’ll have to screw the people of some city, county, or the state to get it, without any referendums.

  41. Submitted by EP Barnes on 10/19/2009 - 10:43 pm.

    Did anybody else notice that the big-time new stadium being built in L.A. is PRIVATELY FUNDED?! There is absolutely no reason for citizens to fork over money to support a business owned by and supporting millionaire employees (even more so in our current economy). The party line is that the public always pays for stadiums. This simply is not true, and it would be the ultimate irony if in fact the Vikings packed up and moved to California, into a stadium that was privately funded.

  42. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/19/2009 - 10:45 pm.

    Eric wrote: One unanswered question: who gets the money from events other than Vikings games? High school tournaments, rock concerts, whatever; who gets that money? Organizers take a split I assume but would they split with the Vikings or the public? If the public gets that money, I’m probably on board.

    Most likely the proceeds from those other events will fund most of the M&O expenses.

    The Twins will get all the Target Field revenue streams because they’ll be paying the M&O expenses there.

  43. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/19/2009 - 10:55 pm.

    A good stadium deal would benefit the Vikings, businesses, sports fans, and the general public.

    A good stadium deal would help to fund the things Howard Miller wants, not detract from them.

    The deal that on the table is a “sweetheart” deal, not a good stadium deal.

  44. Submitted by Derek Reise on 10/20/2009 - 12:11 am.

    Could a stadium be largely financed with public bonds? There would be a certain cache with owning a stadium bond that helped keep the Vikings in Minnesota.

    Or better yet, maybe public ownership of a team is out, but the public can own a stadium in the truest sense. Sell individual stocks to own a piece of the new stadium. Stock owners could get a cut of the stadium’s rent plus ticket preferences and other add-ons. Units of government could choose to be stock owners, justifying to taxpayers that they get a proportionate payback each year on their investment.

    In any case, the owners would have to give a cut if they sell and/or relocate. Based on how soon after the stadium is built, they’d have to pay taxpayers starting at 90% in year 1 to 0% in year 20 of any profit since Wilf’s purchase price.

  45. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 10/20/2009 - 12:38 am.

    Why can’t the Metrodome be improved, remodeled, and refurbished for a fraction [ie circa 1/3 the cost of a new facility]? It makes some sense since the Dome was originally built primarily for football.

    The Metrodome is a constantly used venue, at present, while remodeling this facility for and with the Vikings is probably the best cost effective option available.

    If Mr. Wilf is true blue for the Vikings and this state, his business acumen should tell that for a smaller investment, over a mega-bucks/mega facility, would not be overkill in the present facilities. He could make money in the long haul by turning the present circumstances to his economic advantage.

    The Metro Sports Commission should revamp itself, in the meantime, to be proactive and stop having Task Forces and Studies concerning the situation. It’s only wasting money. How can you take this lemon of this facilities dilemma and come up with lemonade? What is the Sports Commission doing to help solve this problem?

    Minnesotans can rant and rave over the Vikings and its ownership; the politics of it all; and, how is this whole dilemma going to be financed. Just remember time is flying and the Vikes could leave town.

    It’s time, as the old adage goes, to “quityerbellyachin!”, roll-up-your-sleeves, and solve this problem. Failure and complacency are not options, there is too much at stake to lose if the Vikes leave the state.

    If you truly want the Vikings what are your willing to do to keep them in this state?

  46. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 06:46 am.

    Derek… of couse bonds would be sold to fund the public’s portion of new Vikings stadium. The trouble with tax-exempt bonds is they cannot be retired with stadium revenues by federal law. That’s why we’re paying a 0.15 local option sales tax in Hennepin Co..

    Seat licenses are how individuals own a piece of a new stadium.

    And I’d hope a new Vikings stadium deal would include an ironclad agreement keeping the Vikings in MN for at least 30 years.

  47. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 07:03 am.

    Francis… there way too much wrong with the Metrodome to fix it.

    Meeting the current ADA requirement would cause the loss of 3000 seats or more, there’s no exclusive access to private suites, and the corridors are too narrow to name a few. Better to “IMPLODE!!” it and start from scratch.

    There should be a new stadium commission to deal with the Vikings stadium issue. Currently, commissions are appointed by the city of Minneapolis. Minneapolis will have little to no “skin” in the funding of the new Vikings stadium. Most likely a Metro or statewide tax will fund the public’s portion. The new commission should have Metro or statewide representation.

    You’re tight about the stadium commissions studies…. they’ve been pretty much meaningless to misleading.

    Our stadium commission is pretty much in bed with the Vikings and neither the commission or the Vikings are providing any real stadium issue leadership.

    And yes… I do think we stand a very good chance of losing the Vikings after the 2011 season. They’ll be sold for $1 billion, Zygi & Co. will pocket huge “windfall” profits and the next owner will relocate the franchise to L.A.

    Sure hope I’m wrong, but I was a fan of the original Cleveland Browns from childhood. That franchise and the Super Bowl it won are in Baltimore now.

  48. Submitted by John Olson on 10/20/2009 - 07:15 am.

    As I recall (and Jay, correct me if I am wrong on this, please), When the Dome opened in 1982, the “luxury suites” were the idea of Mike Lynn. The problem was that neither the Gophers or Twins were overly interested since there were not too many stadiums with this type of amenity.

    Long story short, the Vikings (with Lynn in charge of a small separate company the Vikes set up) had the suites completed and the agreement was that this company would collect ALL the revenue from the suites. To this day, Lynn reportedly gets $250k a year as CEO.

    I also have to wonder if the Wilf clan is watching what happens at Jerry’s World in Dallas. A couple weeks back, U2 sold the place out. If “Jerry’s World” pans out and Zygi wants to keep the Vikings and stay here, I have to wonder why Zygi wouldn’t consider building it his way without huge public subsidies?

  49. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 10/20/2009 - 08:21 am.

    This Vikings article has gotten way more comments than any other article I’ve seen here. I bet even the Octomom couldn’t have gotten this much discussion.

    Just a couple points. Zigi’s equity in the team has increased way more quickly than my equity in my house or my growth in my 401K. For all his whining he’s doing way better than me. Getting a new public-subsidized stadium would help him double his investment while guaranteeing a hundred minimum wage jobs and fifty millionaire salaries for the state.

    I think the best idea here is to let them move to LA and then pay air fare and hotel for the 50,000 fans who can afford to go to games. If most of us fit the couch potato attack of the article’s author, it is because we are well off enough to pay so much for three hours of entertainment.

    I think the NFL purposely keeps LA team-free because they can use it so well as a bargaining chip with all the other cities, forcing them to pay for new stadiums. I bet several stadiums have gotten built under that threat.

    Even if the Vikings leave we will still get way more NFL football on our TVs than we need and since for most of us our football experience is confined to TV, what is the loss if they go?

  50. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/20/2009 - 08:34 am.

    I just want to know who’s gonna die if we don’t build stadiums or if we lose a pro sports team? I can tell you who’s dying because we’re “solving” billionaire team owners “problems” instead of legitimate public policy issues.

    Just for one instance, you may think that Henn. County Medical Center’s hyperbaric chamber is no big deal, so if they shut it down due to budget cuts it’s no skin off your nose. But just yesterday in the news was a story about a family that was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning with one son who survived and is in intensive care at HCMC. Guess what, the hyperbaric chamber is used to treat severe CO blood staturation. About 20 people a year die of CO poisoning in MN. CO poinsing is the most common type of poisoning in the US. HCMC is considering shutting their HB chamber down, and there aren’t a lot of these chambers around by the way, due to budget cuts.

    Aren’t you people ashamed of the fact that your racking your brains trying to figure out how save football with public dollars while budget cuts are literally killing people in this state? Football? It’s a game people, and a game run by billionaires. No ones’s gonna die if they have to find something else to do beside watching the Vikings play football. These stadiums are not symbols of civic pride, they’re monuments to civic stupidity, callousness, and irresponsibility.

  51. Submitted by T J Simplot on 10/20/2009 - 09:14 am.

    What would be the criteria for closing a retractable dome. Too cold? Light snow? Heavy snow? Who would decide?

  52. Submitted by Wayne Miller on 10/20/2009 - 09:29 am.

    Probably the most surprising aspect of all the comments posted is the fact that there’s really not much support for Jay Weiners perspective on why it’s so critical for all of us that the Minnesota Vikings stay in Minnesota. When I first started reading everyone’s thoughts, I assumed most comments would be in support of his long list of ‘to do’s’ and rationale for a new palace for the Vikings. What has got to be an eye opener for Weiner is that, and he knows this, the only people who have read or will read this article are certainly sports fans, with most still being current Vikings fans. From this little sampling of fan opinion, it seems pretty clear on what side of this issue most are falling.

    The fact is though, enough is enough. Zygi, you and your gang of faceless investors, do what you’ve got to do and go where you’ve got to go to find that next huge payday. It’s your team to do with as you will. Any Vikings fan who thinks that the Vikings are still ours is naïve. That was most true when Max owned the team. How many decades and owners ago has that been now? Today there’s not even one minor Minnesota connection in ownership or personnel that I’m aware of. Oh yeah, Scott Studwell, kinda sorta. Is he even still around?

    How many times do our expectations have to be crushed before we get it our way or say buh-bye? How about this for starters, ‘The dome is fine and you’re making lots of money. Take it or leave it or do all your neat upgrades on your own dime or half billion’. And Weiner’s comment that the Vikings staying or going is a ‘statewide cultural dilemma’. That’s it, getting drunk and watching millionaires bang heads now has something to do with culture.

    I made myself a promise earlier this fall that I was done and wouldn’t be wasting my Sunday’s watching Bret Favre’s Minnesota Vikings. Just saying those four words in a row is enough each weekend to reinforce my fortitude. At first I thought that this would be a big deal and wasn’t sure I could actually do it without some serious withdrawal. Surprisingly, it’s been extremely easy and enjoyable for both me and my wife, who pretty much drifted away from the whole Vikings scene when Randy was kicked out anyway. I’ve gained a day that for too many years wasn’t my day, it was the Vikings day followed by whatever other games were on. After 48 years of bleeding purple, actually not as much since Brad the psych major showed up, in just six regular season games and those jokes they call preseason, I’ve kicked the addiction and am free.

    Shouldn’t it have been harder? Best of luck, Zygi.

  53. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 09:42 am.

    Paul… there are certain “but for” tax revenues that would go away if we lose the Vikings.

    Player income tax (which are paid with NFL TV & sponsorship revenues that follow the teams wherever they go) and taxes paid by out-of-state stadium patrons come to mind.

    It’s use or lose these tax revenues because we will surely lose the Vikings if a new stadium isn’t built.

    Would you agree to using “but for” tax revenues for stadium funding, Paul?

  54. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 09:56 am.

    I can clearly imagine Zygi singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Minnesota” all the way to the bank after selling the franchise for $1 billion to someone who will relocate the team to L.A. or elsewhere.

    That would be a $400 million+ profit “windfall” after about 5 years of team ownership.

    It took Red McCombs 7 years to make that kind of profit.

    Come to think of it, why did Red sell the Vikings franchise to Zygi for only $600 million when the franchise was valued at $658 million by Forbes just a few months later.

    Red paid 10% more than “market value” for the franchise in 1998… does anyone believe he was will to sell the franchise for 10% under “market value” to Zygi?

    But Red didn’t think he was selling the franchise to Zygi now did he? Reggie Fowler gave Red the $20 million non-refundable deposit on 2/14/05, didn’t he.

    And that Randy Moss trade… could that have been Red’s revenge for being duped by Reggie & Zygi?

    Hell if I know…

  55. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/20/2009 - 10:30 am.

    Mr. Spadafora,

    Just to get this clear right from the start, there is no compelling economic argument whatsoever for stadiums as a matter of public policy. Stadiums are public bailouts for professional sports and they do not pay off economically, this has been established many times in countless economic studies. In terms of economic stimulus stadiums are a wash that usually cost more than they deliver, it’s hard to imagine an invesment that delivers less bang for the buck than stadiums. Hiram Foster and I had a lengthy exchange on this very topic last month after a different article that Mr. Weiner wrote about the sustainability of pro sports:

    http://www.minnpost.com/stories/2009/10/19/12608/the_first_meeting_of_stadium_task_force_no_1347_seriously_some_ways_to_solve_the_vikings_dilemma

    Here is an excerpt that is relevant to this thread:

    ” OK, here’s an interesting report that RSM McGladrey (a local accounting firm) did for the Sports commission:

    http://www.msfc.com/images/dynImages/RSM.McGladreyFinal_Report_wAB.pdf

    They found that over the entire period from 1961 to 2006 the total tax revenue generated by all the teams, at all the sports facilities was $345,400.000 over the last 45 years. We just dropped $300 mil for one stadium for one team, and Ziggy wants another billion I hear tell.

    The city of MPLS, in exchange for 87 million to buy the T-wolves arena, has gotten 22 million total from all the teams ever. MPLS has 37 million into the Target cneter, and 25 million into the dome,for a total of 62 million, and they’ve gotten 22 million back.

    The city of St. Paul, in exchange for 65 million to build the Excel arena, they’ve gotten 1, that’s “1” million dollars in tax revenue. St. Paul has had expenditures of 3.7 million since building the Excel, and they’ve gotten 1 back, that’s almost a four to one loss.

    The report concludes that sports revenue was worth the expenditures, but the numbers are drawn out over 45 years and they omit the new Twins stadium. They also underestimate costs by excluding the construction costs. The report concludes that we got $345 million in exchange for $116 million but if you look closely you see that they’re excluding around $225 million in construction costs and adititional purchases. They exclude these expenses because they claim they’ve been paid off, but that’s kinda bogus, debt payment isn’t income it’s reimbursement. If you ad those costs back in your looking at $339 million in real expenditures vs. $345 in revenue. And this is all before we dropped another $300 mill for the new stadium which puts us at $600 million in exchange for maybe $360 at the moment.”

    And more specically to your point:

    “The players income tax was the largest single contribution, $190 million I think, almost two thirds of the total over 45 years. To give that some perspective, for just this year alone the Vikings player payroll is: $121,216,248, and that’s just the Vikings. I think it’s safe to assume that total payroll for all the players of all the teams tops $300 million a year, and that’s just the players.

    http://www.sportscity.com/NFL/Minnesota-Vikings-Salaries

    The additional revenue beyond the payroll tax can’t be attributed entirely to sports. That would assume that had there been no games that spending disappears and it doesn’t. These are entertainment dollars, by and large they would be spent on something else, that money doesn’t just drop out of the economy. By the way, it’s not necessarily the case that people spending money on entertainment is inherently better for the economy than if they spent that money on something else like replacement windows or new cars and boats. There’s no reason to assume for instance that it’s better for people to spend their money on Twins tickets instead of new bicycles (from either a “values” or an economic perspective).”

  56. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/20/2009 - 10:50 am.

    “Player income tax (which are paid with NFL TV & sponsorship revenues that follow the teams wherever they go) and taxes paid by out-of-state stadium patrons come to mind.”

    A lot of these things tend to be a wash. While visiting player pay income taxes here, home team players get deductions for the income taxes they pay elsewhere, so that pretty much evens out. And not many players will live in Minnesota permanently which means they will take the money they earned here out of the Minnesota economy.

    “Aren’t you people ashamed of the fact that your racking your brains trying to figure out how save football with public dollars while budget cuts are literally killing people in this state?”

    I am wracking my brain to figure out how we can use the stadium to get money for projects that matter a whole lot more. How about making support of a stadium contingent on another hyperbaric chamber or two?

  57. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/20/2009 - 11:26 am.

    How bout we just let the billionaires build their own stadiums and we spend our tax money on legitimate public policy. Sure teams may come and go but we can deal with that a lot easier than we’re dealing with budget deficits. I think HCMC may well have the only HB chamber in the twin cities by the way.

    Listen, you’re looking at pro sports bubble, the industry is not sustainable even with public subsidies, that bubble’s gonna pop someday and we’ll be stuck with white elephants. Enough is enough already stop acting like fans and start acting like citizens when it comes to building these stadiums.

  58. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 11:46 am.

    Mr. Paul Udstrand,

    The RSM McGladrey Report is worthless. Like you say, it’s mostly totals taxes on the spending of disposable income my Minnesotans.

    I said taxes collected from out-of-state stadium patrons… and come to think of it, another good thing to study is the number of dollars that would escape the state if we lost the Vikings.

    And Vikings players pay income taxes on half their income here and visiting players pay Minnesota income taxes on 1/16 of their salary when they play a game here. It all add up to about the average of NFL player salaries per team… actually a little more now that the Vikings have the league’s 3rd highest team salary.

    THERE’S ONE AND ONLY ONE JUSTIFICATION FOR PUBLIC STADIUM SUBSIDIES… EVERYONE ELSE DOES IT.

    THERE ARE GOOD STADIUM DEALS AND BAD STADIUM DEAL… THE DEAL THAT’S ON THE TABLE NOW IS A VERY BAD “SWEETHEART” DEAL.

  59. Submitted by Howard Miller on 10/20/2009 - 01:43 pm.

    I agree with Tony Spadafora that a good stadium deal would keep the Vikings here, and would not prevent my issues from being addressed (that’s my spin on what he said.)

    If it involves public financing though, there is a balanced budget law that really restricts what the state can do. If we are laying off college teachers, cutting poor people from public medical coverage, AND STILL facing a budget hole of Billions for the State (we are doing all of those things already), we really don’t have the public cash to invest, so we’d have to issue public bonds. Do people really want to push aside all of the capital maintenance and investment projects across the state – rebuilding bridges, etc so they don’t collapse – skip that stuff, in order to push Mr. Wolf’s private team project to the top of the public list?

    The Vikings are a pleasant luxury. Serviceable roads, schools, prisons – those are necessities. I just don’t think the luxuries of life should push the necessities aside. Not just now, as much as a big stadium construction project would boost some construction employment and a few small/medium businesses.

    Pro sports teams should not be in line at all to put a claim on the public purse. That so many cities and states put up with it doesn’t make it right. There is plenty of money swishing around the pockets of the NFL – same for hockey and baseball. They don’t need to dip into the state or local public treasuries – other people have much more compelling claims on those purses

  60. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 04:05 pm.

    Long ago I wrote:

    An Emotional Matter

    For some having MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL teams in the TwinCities aren’t a matter of “life and death.” Others will half-
    jokingly say having them is more important than that.

    Some don’t want a single public dollar spent on pro sports teams until every social, economic, educational, health, and
    transportation need of the state has been addressed. Others would immediately support the construction of stadiums
    which are 100% publicly funded.

    The only argument the author has to counter those against any public stadium funding is the fact that our pro sports
    teams are competing with teams from all parts the country that have received varying degrees of public subsidy. Even
    the newer, open-air stadiums, which are considered privately funded, received public contributions of land,
    infrastructure, and tax relief.

    Minnesota’s challenge should be to build the functional equivalent of two retractable-roof stadiums, which are much
    more expensive than open-air stadiums, for the Twins and Vikings while limiting the public stadium contributions to land,
    infrastructure, and tax relief.
    _______________________________________________________________

    That when I thought the funding of all the elements of a pro sports venture (the franchise, stadium, land, infrastructure, and tax relief) should be 20% public and 80% private.

    I now believe the formula should be one third public and two-thirds private.

    Using my way of thinking the Twins venture funding was 56.6% public and 43.3% private. Not a good stadium deal for the general public.

  61. Submitted by Steve Mayer on 10/20/2009 - 04:18 pm.

    AYE! Can’t we just hang a big photo of downtown in the end zone and call it good? Or for local color maybe it could project live pictures of live people walking down Nicollet Mall? Or a live feed from the birthing barn at the State Fair?

  62. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/20/2009 - 05:43 pm.

    //Mr. Paul Udstrand,

    The RSM McGladrey Report is worthless. Like you say, it’s mostly totals taxes on the spending of disposable income my Minnesotans.

    Ir’s really very simple Mr. Spadafora, if you don’t like McGladrey’s data, show us your own. By the way, you’re simply mistaken, the McGladrey report is much more comprehensive than you claim, but the link is there for people to see for themselves. by the way, this was not a hostile report, this report was intended to provided support for further sports spending. You act like no one knows the answers to these economic questions, the fact is the data is there, it’s been analyzed, and there is no economic justification for publicly subsidized professional sports. There’s no such thing as a good stadium deal that involves more than $20-$30 million of infrastructure spending. The fact that other cities and states are doing it is no argument because it’s simply not our governments responsibility to provide professional sports. Ziggy is simply not entitled to a taxpayer guaranteed return on his investment. I would never even think of asking for a billion of my fellow taxpayers dollars to subsidize my Netfix or keep “Lost” on the air for a few more years. You think your entitled to hundred of millions of tax dollars because other fans are getting it?

    Here’s the thing about you “good deal/bad deal” guys… you stake out this position that you only support a “good” deal, but when push comes to shove you can’t tell us what a good deal really is, and suddenly you’re talking the “intangibles” of sports teams as if no value can be placed on teams. At the end of the day any deal will do as far as your concerned, as long as you get to keep the team. Instead of logic and reason we get hysterics. It would be funny were it not for the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of public resources are being mis-deployed and squandered on welfare programs for billionaires.

    Even if we weren’t facing billions of dollars of shortages, cutting vital services, and watching bridges fall as stadiums rise literally down the block, these public bailouts would be bad policy. But the fact that you people are even thinking about this at a time when our elected officials are literally unable to even talk to each other about the state budget is simply unconscionable. OK so we know Mr. Spadafora’s position, if the rest of the countries cities and states are walking off of cliffs he’s happy to follow, but what about the rest of you?

  63. Submitted by jim hughes on 10/20/2009 - 06:10 pm.

    I think I speak for an awful lot of people when I say – I couldn’t care less. I don’t even watch professional sports on TV. And I don’t want to give any public money to the corporations that run them.

    Minnesota would be just fine without them. Other sports, other forms of entertainment will fill the demand. Other uses for the tax money will, just possibly, be found.

  64. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 06:27 pm.

    Mr. Udstrand,

    I don’t think you have any idea how bad the deal that’s on the table is or how to fix it. (Opps! Almost forgot, you don’t want to fix it.)

    Do you realize we’re on the verge of losing a MN asset currently valued at $835 million that will cost well over $1 billion to replace.

    I think the Vikings will be sold for $900 million to $1 billion within the next 2 years and Zygi Wilf & Co. will laugh all the way to the bank singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Minnesota” with their huge profit “windfall.”

    The deal that’s on the table is a joke and I think it proves Zygi isn’t serious about building a new Vikings stadium in MN unless it’s involves an extreme “sweetheart” deal.

    So bottom line: Zygi sells a beloved Minnesota pro sports team to someone who will move them to L.A. or elsewhere and pockets a huge profit. Are you OK with that?

  65. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 07:33 pm.

    jim hughes says:
    I think I speak for an awful lot of people when I say – I couldn’t care less. I don’t even watch professional sports on TV. And I don’t want to give any public money to the corporations that run them.

    Minnesota would be just fine without them. Other sports, other forms of entertainment will fill the demand. Other uses for the tax money will, just possibly, be found.
    ___________________________________________________________________

    So you’re OK with all the dollars that won’t come into the state and all the dollars that will escape the state if we lose the Vikings?

  66. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/20/2009 - 09:46 pm.

    //So bottom line: Zygi sells a beloved Minnesota pro sports team to someone who will move them to L.A. or elsewhere and pockets a huge profit. Are you OK with that?

    So, any deal that doesn’t keep the team no matter the cost is a bad deal, thanks for clarifying.

    Obviously I have no problem with anything Ziggy does with his team whatsoever, it’s his team. This is not a public asset, That’s why it can be sold and moved Mr. Spadafora. This team is only worth $800 mil to Ziggy, not the fine taxpayers of this county, city, or state. We can live without the Vikings just fine. In fact one could argue that we’d better without these billionaire welfare kings demanding more money every other decade. We don’t need a professional football team so there’s no reason to spend a dime let alone a billion dollars in the future to get one. These arguments that we either pay now or pay later are silly because they treat pro-sports as if they’re some kind of necessity, they’re not.

    There’s simply no compelling reason to publicly subsidize an industry populated by millionaires and billionaires that can afford to build it’s own stadiums. And I hate to tell you this, but I’m actually speaking for the majority here. We all know that given a choice people will refuse to pay for these stadiums, they may not be happy about losing teams but they understand on a fundamental level that these are outrageous welfare programs for billionaires.

  67. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/20/2009 - 10:03 pm.

    //So you’re OK with all the dollars that won’t come into the state and all the dollars that will escape the state if we lose the Vikings?

    Again, there is no compelling economic argument here. The loss of the Vikings would have a negligible effect on our economy. They neither provide a significant number of permanent jobs nor do they generate a enough economic activity to even come close to justifying the kinds of money the teams want for these stadiums. The vast vast majority of the money goes to the team and the owners. If we want to spend a billion dollars to stimulate the economy we could get ten to twenty time the bang for the buck with any one of dozens of other projects. These are entertainment dollars, people don’t just stuff their money in a whole in the back yard if they don’t have a team to watch, they spend it, they just spend on something other than sports. In fact some pretty strong arguments can be made that diverting that spending to other forms of entertainment is actually better for the over all economy. One can argue that it’s better to have people spreading their money around at other local venues like golf courses, bowling alleys, theaters, and on other activities like fishing, biking, or actually playing sports instead of just watching it.

  68. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/20/2009 - 10:40 pm.

    Mr. Udstrand… listen to me for a change so I can tell you how disparately wrong you are.

    I believe in sports venture funding based on benefit. Team owners benefit, businesses benefit, sports fans benefit, and the general public benefit by having pro sports in Minnesota or elsewhere.

    Your claim of “no compelling economic argument” is as lame as the excessive public benefits stadium proponents claim.

    I think the amount of stadium funding that’s being sought is outrageous, but that doesn’t mean there’s not an appropriate “public” contribution.

    Do you know how many dollars a Super Bowl would being into the state? Or Final Fours? Do you know how much the RNC brought into the state?

    I think HHH was right when he said we’d be “a cold Omaha” without pro sports in MN and the venues pro teams play in…

  69. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 10/21/2009 - 08:57 am.

    Mr Spadafora-

    You can’t (or shouldn’t) call someone lame for saying there is “no compelling economic argument” for a new statium, and in the same post state things like: “sports fans benefit, and the general public benefit by having pro sports in Minnesota or elsewhere”, or “Do you know how many dollars a Super Bowl would being into the state?”

    First off, the economic argument is hard, because as much as you want to discount any individual study, when multiple studies fall on the other side of benefit/no benefit (usually on the side favoring whoever commissioned the study), that should tell us that either way, it’s not a huge effect. If it was, there would be no trouble detecting the benefit or harm, so my take on the multiple competing studies is that the benefit in either direction is not that large.

    So, do we want to subsidize any part of this? I think I actually agree with you in part, in that I think the public does get something out of the vikings being here. It may be an intangible something, but they provide something. So how much is it worth? It’s worth a hell of a lot less then the very tangible benefit the team gets from a new stadium, namely instantly increased value, larger revenue stream, media exposure, etc.

    So, one party (owner) gets major, measurable, and very real benefits. One party (public) gets a mushy amalgam of pride of having a team, possible (but argued) economic benefit from spending that only a football team can generate (because as we know, Americans would otherwise put all that money into savings, not spend it elsewhere…), and perhaps solace that “our state didn’t lose a team.”

    Given the huge disparity in who gets the benefits, the funding should reflect that. I’d say 90% owner, 10% public, and leave it on the table. If the vikings walk, oh well, think of all the free time we’ll have on fall Sundays to go for a walk, play with our kids, fix up our yards, etc.

  70. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 10/21/2009 - 09:00 am.

    Oh, and I forgot- including possible money from a a superbowl appearence in the benefits of a new statium is pretty silly. It’s been decades since the team has been there, and counting on this is just a little bit more sane than saying we could save on demolition costs by waiting for a meteor to hit the metrodome.

  71. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 10:11 am.

    Let me make sure I heard this right (sic), you want to dump a billion tax payers dollars into Ziggy Wolf’s pocket on the off chance that the Vikings will get to the super bowl once or twice in the next 20 years?

    To answer your question, yes Mr. Spadafora I do know how much money such events could “bring into” the state, city, county, and so do the economists who have studied this… and it’s not worth it, not when your talking about hundred of millions of dollars. Especially when that money could be spent on truly public projects that would deliver at lest twice the return. Again, your assuming that without the teams we’d all just sit around in our living rooms and sulk. Dude, L.A. lost their football team how many years ago and it didn’t turn L.A. into a ghost town. When HH made his “cold Omaha” statement we weren’t talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

    I should clarify, I’m not saying no public money of any kind should ever go into any pro sports stadiums. I have no problem adding infrastructure, roads, ramps, light rail etc. because those can all be used even when there are no games. But this notion that the taxpayer is obligated to come up with 20%-60% or more of the construction costs as outright give aways is simply insane. It means hundreds of millions of dollars that could be way better spent on other public projects that would deliver far more bang for the buck and more lasting value.

    For instance, most decent public projects yield a job to expenditure figure of $35,000 or less per job created. The Twins ballpark created 3,000 temporary jobs for it’s construction and a few hundred permanent jobs for $350 million, that’s over a $100,000 per job. We could’ve created three times as many jobs, and many more permanent jobs if we’d put that money into transportation, affordable housing, small business grants or loans etc. By comparison, assuming the same jobs to dollar ratio, the Vikings stadium could create around 9,000 jobs for a billion dollars. By comparison the State Budget office reports that we got 11,800 jobs at about $20,000 per job from the economic stimulus package. And the multiplier effect of stimulus jobs is far greater than sports jobs. The majority of revenue created by sports spending goes to players and owners who take the money out of state and spend it elsewhere whereas regular jobs for normal human beings living in MN is spent here at home.

    There are a whole host of other fairness issues that arise that we haven’t even begun to discuss. When the government picks pro-sports as an entertainment dollar winner it does so at the expense of other businesses, local golf courses, bowling alleys, restaurants, movie theaters etc. are forced to pay and collect taxes to finance their competition.

    You people simply have to stop pretending that these teams are public assets that we have to have at any cost, it’s ridiculous. Once can make a really strong case that at this point, with this kind of money, we’re actually better off without these teams and stadiums. We’re in the middle of recession here, don’t you think if we’re spend a billion public dollars on something we should create as many jobs as we can? Don’t you think we get the most bang for the buck we can? Don’t you think it’s fundamentally unethical to publicly subsidize a few dozen million and billionaires while throwing tens of thousands of Minnesotans out of their homes and off of health care for want of a fraction of the money these welfare kings want?

  72. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 10:19 am.

    Dimitri,

    I just want to point out that the study I referenced, the McGraddrey study, was actually commissioned by stadium supporters. It an important illustration that any serious economic study, regardless of origin, fails to support economic arguments for public financing. In this case they had to resort to Enron accounting in order to produce a favorable executive summary for stadium boosters.

  73. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 10:45 am.

    Dimitri Drekonja… do you realize you’re actually agreeing with my saying… “Your claim of “no compelling economic argument” is as lame as the excessive public benefits stadium proponents claim.” to Mr. Udstrandd, don’t you?

    And actually it’s very easy to calculate how much financial benefit the team owner will receive… It’s all wrapped up in the increased “market value” of the franchise which is a function of revenues… currents 4.4X new revenues to be exact. The owners’ intangible benefit is “pride of ownership.”

    I say team owners receive about one third the total benefit.

    Businesses and frequent fans receive about a third

    and the general public receives about a third.

    But I will agree the team owners’ benefits are more focused on a single person or small group of owners. And spread thinly over thousands of businesses and frequent fans, and even more thinly over millions of members of MN’s general public.
    _____________________________________________

    By the way… the RNC brought $170 million into the state of MN, a Super Bowl would bring in more than $300 million, and Final Fours over $50 million. That’s a lot of hospitality industry revenues and sales taxes on food, lodging, retail, car rentals, etc..

    The NFL will most likely guarantee a Super Bowl in MN if we build a new domed or retractable-roof stadium for the Vikings. The 1992 Super Bowl was played in the Metrodome, wasn’t it. I didn’t say the Vikings would be playing in the Super Bowl here… but that would be nice.

  74. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 10:53 am.

    Mr. Udstrand… assuming the deal that on the table, you’re absolutely right, but I’m certainly not supportive of that deal.

  75. Submitted by jim hughes on 10/21/2009 - 11:18 am.

    This entire argument is irrelevant because this is no longer a contest for public mindshare – polls show a solid majority of voters oppose public funding of professional sports. The contest is for control of our own government, and so far, the sports corporations and their lobbyists are winning.

  76. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 12:20 pm.

    Consider all the male members of the Hennepin Co. Board who voted for the Twins stadium plan all got re-elected and 2 or the 3 women who voted against the plan decided not to run for re-election, it appears Mr. Hughes is right.

    A solid majority would vote for “Racino” funding, but the DFL-led House & Senate are in bed with Native Americans and won’t vote for anything that completes with their casinos.

    Will there be another “end run” around the will of the people with a Metro or statewide sales tax referendum “waiver?” Wouldn’t that be a HOOT!!

  77. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 12:31 pm.

    //I say team owners receive about one third the total benefit.

    Businesses and frequent fans receive about a third

    and the general public receives about a third.

    I’d like to think your a reasonable person Mr. Spadafora but then you make statements like this? You’re just making this up.

    Here are the figures according to Forbes magazine for last year:

    Revenue 4 $182 mil
    Operating Income 5 $-19.1 mil
    Player Expenses 6 $151 mil
    Gate Receipts 7 $42 mil

    As you can see with 80% percent of the revenue going to the players there’s no way your gonna get two thirds out of this for fans and the general public.

    If you think the team is generating an additional $400 million a year in revenue for the rest of us, all you have to do is show us the money man.

    Oh, maybe your talking about those “intangible” values, yeah I’m getting one third of the intangible value of having a team. And this is when we start acting like we can’t put a price on these teams… but we do, hundreds of millions of dollars. Tell you what, why don’t let me buy your house for $20,000 cash and pay the rest with intangibles. And you want us to trust YOU to make a good deal for us? Please.

  78. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 10/21/2009 - 01:24 pm.

    Tony Spadafora seems to be the big stadium/billionaire lover here, sort of a mole for NFL. I’m trying to figure out who he is by doing an anagram on his name. The best I can come up with is NO PAY FOR A STAD. He must be with the NFL because they don’t want to pay for a STAD; they want us to. NFL – No Financing Likely.

    I just don’t get the people that always equate racino and things like that with financing sports stadiums. If that were a valid way for the state to raise money, why don’t they do it to help balance the budget or to retain health care for the poor or so much else?

  79. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 10/21/2009 - 01:33 pm.

    I do see one bit of economic downturn if the Vikes leave. Housing prices for mansions in Medina will plummet.

  80. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 02:07 pm.

    Revenue 4 $182 mil
    Operating Income 5 $-19.1 mil
    Player Expenses 6 $151 mil
    Gate Receipts 7 $42 mil

    Do you know what those numbers tell me, Mr. Udstrand?

    It tell me the NFL sends the Vikings a $140 million check out of the league’s TV contracts and sponsorships.

    That $140 million follows the team wherever it goes.

    And those player expenses generate will over $10 million in state income tax.

    You have no idea how I calculate benefit, and those number you posted are almost as meaningless as the McGladrey Report.

  81. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 02:11 pm.

    …and keep in mind part of that $140 million from the NFL is revenue-sharing.

  82. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 02:39 pm.

    Bill Schletzer … you should know my last name “Spadafora” means “drawn sword” in Italian.

    It’s about cost cutting not back stabbing.

    And I assure you I have no ties to the Vikings or the NFL.

    Mr. Udstand… do you know that 21% of the fans at Vikings games in the Metrodome are from outside Minnesota?

    Do you know that 50% of those fans spend an average 1.6 hotel nights here per game?

    64,000 X 21% = 13,440 out-of-state patrons per game.

    6720 spending 1.6 nights here or 10,752 hotel nights per game.

    All 13,440 paying sales taxes on tickets, parking, food, concessions, etc.

    What’s that benefit worth to the general public? What’s that worth to Minnesota’s hospitality industry?

    Now keep in mind Super Bowls and Final Fours where the vast majority of fans are from outside Minnesota.

  83. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 10/21/2009 - 02:51 pm.

    From Mr Spadafora:
    “You have no idea how I calculate benefit, and those number you posted are almost as meaningless as the McGladrey Report.”

    Well, if you want anyone to take you or your opinions seriously, you need to explain how you calculate benefits. Same goes for anyone else trying to get the public to fund a big playpen.

    Show us, in a clear, transparent manner, how the public gets 1/3 of the benefit from the vikings being here.

    And your earnest word that it is the truth doesn’t count.

  84. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 03:13 pm.

    //You have no idea how I calculate benefit, and those number you posted are almost as meaningless as the McGladrey Report.

    Sure, let’s drop a billion dollars in order to preserve a ten million dollar revenue stream. Actually according Jason DeRusha it’s more like 15 – 17 million. At that rate we’ll make a billion dollars back in what 60 years? And by then we’ll have built two more stadiums. I think I’ve made my point here. By the way, who’s third is that ten million?

  85. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 03:21 pm.

    Most of the tangible public benefit is about the money the NFL sents here which pays our player salaries and results in well over $11 million in Vikings and visiting player state income tax.

    Plus the money out-of-state stadium patrons spend in MN when they attend Vikings games and other stadium events.

    Another worthwhile study would identify the number of dollars that would likely leave the state if we lost the Vikings. I suspect most Vikings season ticket holders would attend a game or two in Chicago, Green Bay, KC, St. Louis, etc. if we didn’t have an NFL team here.

    I just heard a radio commercial for Vikings fans to attend the Vikings/Green Bay game next month… only $399.00 per person.

  86. Submitted by John Olson on 10/21/2009 - 03:35 pm.

    This is more fun than watching Michelle Bachmann at a MENSA convention.

  87. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 03:43 pm.

    //Mr. Udstand… do you know that 21% of the fans at Vikings games in the Metrodome are from outside Minnesota?

    Do you know that 50% of those fans spend an average 1.6 hotel nights here per game?

    64,000 X 21% = 13,440 out-of-state patrons per game.

    6720 spending 1.6 nights here or 10,752 hotel nights per game.

    All 13,440 paying sales taxes on tickets, parking, food, concessions, etc.

    You’re making funny with the statistics Spadafora. For one thing you can’t calculate 1.6 nights of hotel stays because no hotel charges for 1.6 nights so your using an average when you should be using a mode or median. Second, you’re assuming all the games sell out which they don’t. Third your figure of 21% itself is what an average? And how’s that calculated? And how is the 50% percent calculated, is that an average as well? And what is the source for your figures anyways?

    Besides, yes, out of town participation is and has been factored into the economic models, and it’s still a wash. Your assuming we’d have no tourism without football. You sure got a thing for super balls don’t you? How do you suppose London manages to be such a fantastic city? They’ve never had a single super ball?

  88. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 04:15 pm.

    //Third your figure of 21% itself is what an average? And how’s that calculated?

    Well to be more precise, how is that data compiled? Obviously we now how to calculate an average. The easiest way would be credit card receipts, but if someones looked at those they’d have actual numbers and wouldn’t need to average, they have actual figures for a given time period.

  89. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 04:17 pm.

    Paul Udstrand… now you tell me how you calculate the team owner(s)’ benefit.

    …and how would you calculate the business community’s and sports fans’ benefits?

    The numbers I gave about out-of-state Vikings fans were from a CSL survey of season ticket holders conducted in Feb. 2009 and presented to the Minnesota House Commerce & Labor Committee on Oct. 1, 2009.

    Every Vikings game as been a sell out since 1998… 55,000 to 60,000 have been season ticket holders. Would have dropped to 50,000 this year without Farve.

  90. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 04:37 pm.

    CSL’s numbers are good enough for me…

    How would you separate the credit card receipts of out-of-state stadium patrons purchasing tickets, concessions, meals, hotel rooms, car rentals, etc. from the receipts of out-of-state visitors here for other reasons?

    Using my Venture Funding method… the funding for the Twins stadium and other venture elements was 56.6% public and 43.3% public. I’m advocating 33.3% public and 66.7% private for the Vikings. The deal that’s on the table isn’t anywhere near that.

  91. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 05:04 pm.

    I’m not sure every game has been a sellout, haven’t they had to be bailed out of black-outs a few times?

    You’ve seen figures on the value of the team, how Mr. Wolf or anyone else values what the own is their business.

    Fans likewise can assign their own value to the team, pay for their experience as they see fit.

    You calculate the wider economic benefits by measuring revenue generated as a result of games themselves.

    Yes there are intangible benefits, sports is an amenity.

    But none of this is really the question, the question is how much public money if any should be spent on privately owned professional sports. We’ve been having that conversation so there’s no reason to repeat it here suffice it to say that once you start talking about more than 30-40 million dollars you start losing people.

    Now about this CSL survey, do you have a link for that?

  92. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 05:59 pm.

    Don’t have a link to the exact CSL report presented on Oct. 1, but there are other reports on the stadium commissions website.

    Go to http://www.msfc.com

    Click on METRODOME NEXT …. bottom left hand corner of the Home page.

    This open a page with various reports… the “Economic & Job Impact of Metrodome Next” is the closest to the report I quoted from… sorry, I only have a hard copy.

  93. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/21/2009 - 07:16 pm.

    Venture Funding Method? We’re talking about public policy here Tony, not annuities.

    The problem with 33% or any other percent is that you’re talking hundred of millions of dollars, these projects are just too expensive. If it were 30% of a $100 million you’d get your stadium, but we’re talking hundreds of millions and billions of dollars. We need to cap the dollar amount and let chips fall they may. Your method puts us on the hook for hundreds of billions of tax dollars when these guys design billion dollars complexes or cook the books to make them look like billion dollar complexes. These are not public assets or necessities, stadiums are not public infrastructure. If that means losing some teams so be it we really do have better things to do with tax dollars than build stadiums for billionaires.

    As far as the credit cards goes I was just thinking how besides a survey at the stadium you could compile that data, and the ticket sales would be one way if you had address info on the buyers, but that’s probably not the case. CSL would have to do surveys at the games sampling ticket buyers and I’d be interested in seeing the survey method and questions, sample size and phrasing are important. However according to you they surveyed season ticket holders, 21% of season ticket holders are out of state? They probably did phone surveys of season ticket holders. I think it would be interesting that 10% of season ticket holders stay in hotels when the come to town for games.

  94. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/21/2009 - 09:45 pm.

    I’m not interested in going into the details about my funding logic, but it’s certainly not what you think, Paul.

    I place values on the land, infrastructure, and tax relief involved… those public contributions aren’t included in the $704 million in public funding the deal that’s on the table proposes.

  95. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/22/2009 - 12:14 am.

    Thanks for the link Mr. Spadafora,

    First I have to comment that I think it’s interesting that the CSL report is good enough for you but the McGladdrey report right below it is worthless.

    An any rate, I have some issues with both the McGladdery and the CSL reports. I think the executive summary in the McGladdrey report misrepresents the findings, but at least the numbers ad up and the sources are clearly stated. The CSL report is problematic for several reasons

    First, it relies on data provided by the team and a variety of other sources and we have no idea how that data was compiled. The 20% out-of-state figure for instance wasn’t the product of a survey it was provided by the team and we have no way of knowing how they compiled it. Furthermore, the survey method used to compile economic data on season ticket holders was a self administered voluntary survey completed by subject who were invited via e-mail. This indicates that little thought was given to what kind of sample was needed to provide reliable data from a representative sample. We aren’t given basic numbers, we know that around 1,200 responded but without knowing how many season ticket holders there are we have no way of know how large or small a sample that is. We don’t what the survey itself looked like, we’re not given any sample questions so we can’t evaluate they’re reliability. Typically you’d have multiple choice, with questions like: How much do you spend at restaurants? 20 – 30, 40-60, etc. The structure of such a question is key, if the spread is too great it’s unreliable, the difference between 40 and 60 may be greater than you want. Then we’d have to know kind of computational assumptions were made, if the range was from 40-60 how were those responses coded? Was it weighed towards the higher or lower number? or was it averaged?

    Then there’s the number themselves, we get these impressive numbers but we have no idea how they were calculated. For instance, we’re told that the average season ticket holder spends $107 per game out of facility. Well, again the use of an average instead of a median is troublesome because if the majority of people spend $10 on parking but a much smaller number go the clubs afterwards and drop $1,000 you can get an average like that. And I’d like know what they do with that average, do they use that figure to produce all the spending projections and multiplier calculations? If so those projections are really bogus. Again we don’t know how many people we’re talking about, you really need to know out of 65,000 seats how may are season tickets? We need to know that because our sample is limited to season ticket holders, what about the non-season ticket holders? Without knowing the numbers we just don’t know how representative the sample is. Do all the projections assume that walk ins spend the same season ticket holders? We don’t know any of this. There’s an interesting disclaimer attached to this report:

    “CSL International does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided to us. Information provided to us has not been audited or verified and has been assumed to be correct.”

    Other things, they estimate 8,000 direct construction jobs but tack on another 5,500 jobs without describing these jobs or explaining where they come from. Some of the figures just seem fishy- for instance they predict an annual tax revenue of $32 million dollars. Well, McGaddrey found a total tax revenue from the same sources of $350 million over the last 45 years from all the teams. How many people is this new stadium going seat? We’re talking about the same number of players aren’t we? Why are the viking suddenly going to generate as much tax revenue in the next ten years as all the teams combined generated in the 45 years?

    I’m not going to pretend to understand the multiplier calculations used in this report but it looks like CSL used a program developed by IMPLAN, they may have done little more than simply plug the figures into a program that kicked out these projection. Aside from the garbage in garbage out problem these are complex economic evaluations, and CSL explicitly states that this is NOT an independant market study for a reconstructed stadium so who knows what kind of model they used, or how appropriate it was. I’d like to see this report evaluated by an independent economist who’s more familiar with this methodology than I am before I’d take these projections seriously. At any rate this is market research methodology, not economic analysis, not the best way to make big public policy decisions.

    Anyone who wants to look at these studies themselves can find them at:

    http://www.msfc.com/tour.cfm

  96. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/22/2009 - 08:01 am.

    Sorry about all the typos in my previous post. Anyways I forgot, the CSL projections “assume” the new stadium will be used for a number of non Vikings related events, amongst the funniest- a visit by the Pope, and the Olympics. Ha!

  97. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/22/2009 - 09:49 am.

    I hate to say but the more I look at this CSL report the more dubious it looks. Basically it claims that in exchange for $750 million we’d get $1.3 billion in spending or output, during the construction period. So basically for every dollar we put in we get almost two out? How exactly does that work? For every dollar we pay workers, suppliers, etc. they’re gonna spend two? What is this credit card debt?
    I mean I understand the concept of multiplier effects but those are about spreading economic activity, not conjuring up more actual dollars. For instance a worker you pay $50,000 a year may go out and buy a $20,000 car, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting an extra $20,000 in exchange for your 50k salary. This is starting to look like Enron accounting.

    I was mistaken in my last post, a visit by the Pope and the Olympics were NOT factored into the projections, they were merely provided as examples of the kind of miracles we might expect if we built the stadium.

  98. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/22/2009 - 12:18 pm.

    WOW!! 100+ comments posted. Is that some kind of MinnPost record?

    Paul… quit looking at the details and look at the big picture. A benefits distribution of 1/3 owners, 1/3 businesses and frequent fans, and 1/3 general public is close enough.

    Too many of the benefits are intangible and hard to measure.

    For instance, what’s the value of the team owners’ “pride of ownership?”

  99. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/22/2009 - 12:56 pm.

    100+ indeed!

    Quit looking at the details? Indeed. Tony your one third all around equation simply doesn’t make sense, I know you keep repeating it but it’s a mantra that defies common sense. Don’t try to explain it because you know I’ll only look at the details.

    Your right, too many of these benefits are intangible, that’s why this is not a legitimate public policy issue. If we’re going to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars we need to spend it wisely and get the most bang for the buck, not toss it at intangibles and hope for the best. There’s nothing much intangible about homelessness, health care, unemployment, education, or collapsing bridges, that’s where public spending should be going. Again, who’s gonna die if we don’t build a stadium or loose the Viking? Death is pretty tangible.

    Like I said at the very beginning, you stadium guys always start out arguing about the economy and when that falls apart you end up talking about the intangibles as if these teams are priceless… but the price turns out to hundreds of millions of dollars. Apparently this is a detail we’re not supposed to notice.

    I don’t know how Mr. Wolf values his team or how much pride he takes in owning it, and I don’t care, it’s not my problem. Apparently he doesn’t take enough pride in it to spend his own money on a new stadium. Whatever. Mr. Wolf’s pride is not the concern of MN taxpayers.

    The big picture is that these stadiums are welfare programs for billionaires. The big picture is it’s not my responsibility as a taxpayer to provide you with a professional football team. The big picture is that this state is facing a four billion dollar budget deficit and is in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression. In the middle of all that you want us to divert precious time and treasure to subsidizing a professional sports industry that throws billions of dollars at millionaire players and billionaire owners who don’t want to build their own stadiums.

    That about sums it up doesn’t it?

  100. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/22/2009 - 04:19 pm.

    Other than the land, which is already publicly owned and paid for, the infrastructure, which most people seem to think is appropriate for almost any business, and the tax relief that most people don’t place any value on… I would only use truly “but for” tax revenues for stadium funding.

    It’s use them or eventually lose them with those taxes because we’ll surely lose the Vikings if the stadium issue isn’t resolved.

    A stadium deal that’s good for the Vikings and good for MN would help fund the causes you mentioned, not take from them.

    I realize the stadium funding “paradigm” in your head won’t let you see what I’m proposing, so just believe what I’m proposing is better than what we’ll probably end up with… hopefully, not as bad as the Twins stadium deal.

  101. Submitted by John Olson on 10/22/2009 - 06:31 pm.

    “….so just believe what I’m proposing is better than what we’ll probably end up with…”

    The old axiom of “if it is too good to be true, it probably is” comes to mind. “Trust me” used in the same sentence with “stadium” earns a reflexive NO from this taxpayer.

  102. Submitted by John Olson on 10/22/2009 - 06:31 pm.

    Oh, I almost forgot….the books have to be opened too.

  103. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/22/2009 - 07:19 pm.

    John Olson says:
    Oh, I almost forgot….the books have to be opened too.

    LMAO… that will never happen. The Vikings won’t even share the details of their new field and gate naming-rights deal confidentially with our stadium commission.

    All I need to know about the Vikings books I get from Forbes and the open Green Bay Packers books.

  104. Submitted by John Olson on 10/23/2009 - 06:41 am.

    That’s fine Tony if they choose to keep the books closed. Then they don’t have to bother asking for public funding.

    You may want to familiarize yourself with 2009 Minnesota Statutes Chapter 16B.98, Subdivision 8 in particular.

  105. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/23/2009 - 08:01 am.

    John… did the Twins open their books? And there must be a public’s right to know the details of the new field and gate naming-rights deals for the publicly owned Metrodome, but I don’t see anyone pushing it.

  106. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/23/2009 - 08:56 am.

    This business with the books reminds of another outrage associated with these stadiums. Essentially these stadiums are financial bailouts for teams who claim they need a new stadium to make more money. When bailout any other industry we extract concessions, auto workers had to give up retirement plans, bank executive are taking a hit on pay packages (kind of) etc. Pro sports teams don’t even have to open their books so we can see just how much money they’re actually making. Frankly I don’t need to see their books, the fact that they’re paying people over a million dollars to play a game tells me all I need to know.

  107. Submitted by John Olson on 10/23/2009 - 10:16 am.

    Tony:

    The Twins/Gophers stadium financing was passed in the 2006 legislative session (Chapter 257) and the grants language was passed in the 2007 legislative session.

    IF the Twins’ books were opened during the 2006 session (and I do not know one way or the other), that was before the other law passed.

    As to naming rights? Most people consider that (like I do) no big deal. TCF anted up for the Gophers and I’m all for that kind of approach. If a corporation wants to pony up enough to get Zygi’s attention, great! Cialis Field, anyone ?

  108. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/23/2009 - 01:51 pm.

    John–

    I was there in 2006 at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning, the last voting day of the regular session, when the Twins stadium bill was passed.

    I was also at the Mpls. City Council meeting (in 2004 or 2005) when the original agreement for the Twins stadium land deal was passed.

    I’ve also attended dozens of stadium issue committee meetings and at least 90% of the stadium commission’s monthly meetings.

    I’m normally the only interested citizen present… and lately even the media hasn’t been there.

    So when you say you don’t care about the details of the naming-rights deals, it certainly does not surprise me.

  109. Submitted by John Olson on 10/23/2009 - 02:49 pm.

    Glad to see you have the time to follow the stadium issue(s) that closely. Few people do.

  110. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/23/2009 - 05:29 pm.

    I’ve been following the stadium issues since moving to MN in 1997.

    It’s pretty much been the same old movie over and over and over again.

    Kinda like being in the movie “Groundhog Day.” Sometimes I bring popcorn.

    “Hush & Rush” might be a better name for the movie. Withhold stadium issue debate until the last couple weeks of legislative sessions, then try to rush the bill through without properly vetting it. “Hail Mary Legislation” would be another good name.

  111. Submitted by William Jewell on 10/23/2009 - 07:09 pm.

    Mall of America General Purpose and Vikings Stadium at the TGIF Friday’s location meets all the criteria Jay Weinertalks about in his great tell it it is story and it’s just a wieners dogs race away from Macy’s, with road block of course, and 90% of the people say “yes,” to that location, “Where it used to be.”

    It will create real tourism and jobs not “Twinsville” banter and with events 300 days a year like Izod-Continental Arena in N. J. it will bring 7 million people new visitors a year and create buzz that will again bring back the international tourist.

    As the World’s Most Famous Stadium, if w do it right, it will have the Superdome effect and if an event is tops it will be held here in fly over land good old Minnesota.

    Billionaire Babble, what say ye, what if there’s minimal tax help, as the World’s Most Famous Stadium the naming rights are worth $200 Million, just one problem, does it have to be a Minnesota company like Best Buy, Radisson, or a Cheerio’s Stadium, what if Goggle came in with the cash, they have $8 Billion laying around, what would you say.

    Mr. Wilf checks in with another $300 Million, $300 Million from the Fiscal Disparities Pool and the rest with a MOA Zone sales tax, that does it, what say yee???

    Last problem the media and elected officials don’t want to listen to what 90% of you would say on where you want it, so get more info. At http://www.bludog(dot)com or http://www.vikingsstadium(dot)org and like Mr. Weiner suggests lets talk about it with an open mind and do it the right way, Minnesota’s image has been hurt as of late this is our chance to say, Minnesota’s baaaaack.

    William Jewell, Bloomington, MN

  112. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/24/2009 - 07:23 am.

    “This business with the books reminds of another outrage associated with these stadiums. Essentially these stadiums are financial bailouts for teams who claim they need a new stadium to make more money.”

    There is nothing of the bailout where the Vikings are concerned. An NFL football franchise is the closest thing there is to a license to print money. For the owners, the only issue is just how fantastically lucrative do they want their businesses to be. But I am not an NFL owner, and I don’t care about their business interests. For me as a resident of Minnesota the main and possibly only relevant questions are, how much is it worth to me to have an NFL franchise in town?

    This goes back to a central point, a central mystery if you will, as to how we approach these issues. “Don’t subsidize zillionaires”, we are told. But zillionaires are going to get subsidized by someone. That’s how they became zillionaires. My question is this:

    If a deal is good for me, or for Minnesota, why should I care if it’s also a good deal for someone else?

  113. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/24/2009 - 08:27 am.

    William… I don’t agree with your numbers. What do you mean by new visitors? If you’re talking about people from outside MN, they tell me about 20% of the fans at Vikings games are from outside MN.

    If there was a Vikings home game every week of the year:

    70,000 new stadium capacity X 20% = 14,000 visitors/game

    14,000 visitors X 52 games = 728,000 visitors… not 7 million

    Believe me…. there is NOT going to be a major event at a new Vikings stadium every week.

    And where do you think Zygi’s contribution is coming from? From naming-rights, seat licenses, and an NFL contribution, that’s where.

  114. Submitted by jim hughes on 10/24/2009 - 01:07 pm.

    It always comes back to the idea that public financing of financing professional sports is somehow a “good deal” for the taxpayers.

    If we’re just looking for ways to invest public money, why not put it in the stock market?

    If – in these tortured, convoluted financial arguments – we could factor out emotional attachment that many people have to professional sports – there’d be nothing left.

    I dont’ have that attachment, and so all I see is an astoundingly bizarre, convoluted pitch to invest public money in a business owned by, and employing, extremely wealthy people.

  115. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/24/2009 - 03:27 pm.

    Jim… in a perfect world, you’re absolutely right, but we don’t live in perfect world in many ways including stadium funding.

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it hundreds of time… the only real justification for public involvement in pro sports stadiums is the fact that everyone else does it. Even the stadiums you might think are privately funded had public contributions of land, or infrastructure, or tax relief or all three.

    A pro sports team could not compete financially or on the playing field without some public involvement… so the first questions to answer is, do you want pro sports or not? The next questions should be how do we minimize public funding and maximize private funding?

    The deal that currently on the table involving a $250 million team contribution minimizes private funding and maximizes public funding. It’s a “sweetheart” deal…

  116. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/25/2009 - 06:36 am.

    “It always comes back to the idea that public financing of financing professional sports is somehow a “good deal” for the taxpayers.”

    I would extend that to all Minnesotans not just taxpayers. And I would not narrowly define “good deal” in purely economic terms.

    In purely economic returns, sports are not a good investment. But how many decisions in our live do we make on purely economic terms? I follow football not because I make money from it, but because I enjoy watching the games. I am prepared to pay a certain amount of money to continue watching the games. It’s just a question of how much.

  117. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/25/2009 - 10:39 am.

    Hiram… I believe all the elements of a pro sports venture should be based on benefit.

    I think the team owners get one third of the benefit.

    I think businesses and frequent fans (season ticket holders) get one third of the benefit.

    …and I think the general public get one third of the benefit.

    If you are a Vikings season ticket holder, would you be willing to pay an average $2000 (say the range is $500 to $5000) for seat licenses?

    The Packers raised $108 million from 54,000 bowl bench seats… $2000 per seat… to help fund Lambeau’s renovation. Plus there were other seat licenses sold bringing the total to over $120 million.

    Businesses and frequent fans are the missing stadium funding sources… not team owners.

  118. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/25/2009 - 01:52 pm.

    “I believe all the elements of a pro sports venture should be based on benefit.”

    Well, I can’t dispute that. I also tend to view things that benefit us favorably.

    “If you are a Vikings season ticket holder, would you be willing to pay an average $2000 (say the range is $500 to $5000) for seat licenses?”

    Me personally? No. But I am not a Vikings season ticket holder at all.

    “The Packers raised $108 million from 54,000 bowl bench seats… $2000 per seat… to help fund Lambeau’s renovation. Plus there were other seat licenses sold bringing the total to over $120 million.”

    That’s nice for them, but what does that have to do with Minnesota?

    “Businesses and frequent fans are the missing stadium funding sources… not team owners.”

    And they are the ones who buy the luxury boxes, and the season tickets, and have supported the team for decades. I think they should get a lot of credit for that. But just because they assume a huge part of the financial cost of the Vikings doesn’t necessarily mean they should or even can assume all of it.

  119. Submitted by jim hughes on 10/25/2009 - 03:07 pm.

    “first questions to answer is, do you want pro sports or not?”

    Tony, my honest answer is no. I don’t watch pro sports, and I don’t care whether Minneapolis has them. I’m not opposed to them being here, I don’t ridicule people who enjoy them – it just doesn’t affect me.

    They’re just big entertainment corporations, like Disney, and if they can’t make it from the sale of their products, I’m sorry, but that’s just life in the big city.

  120. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/25/2009 - 04:45 pm.

    jim… the majority of MN’s elected officials don’t agree with you. Did you see the egregious referendum “waiver” they pulled to circumvent the will of people like you?

    And I suspect they’ll try another “end run” around the will of the People with a Metro or statewide tax to fund a new Vikings stadium and another referendum “waiver.”

    Hiram…. what should businesses get credit for? They benefit from using those private suite and won’t spend the money if they didn’t…. they will also benefit from sponsoring naming-rights…. in-house advertising…. club seats… development rights… and on and on and on.

  121. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/25/2009 - 07:45 pm.

    what should businesses get credit for?

    Stuff they do. I give them credit for subsidizing things I enjoy. My enjoyment of them isn’t lessened by the fact that they might get some benefit from subsidizing stuff I like.

    “. they will also benefit from sponsoring naming-rights…. in-house advertising…. club seats… development rights… and on and on and on.”

    All stuff they will pay for, and therefore reduce the cost of professional sports to me.

    If TCF or Target pays millions of dollars to me just to stick their name on a building, let’s just I think I have gotten a very, very good deal.

  122. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/26/2009 - 06:55 am.

    Hiram… to optimize the value of a naming-rights deal for the sponsor three major deal elements should be involved.

    #1… a linkage with the team sometimes called a “brand lateral” which the naming-right sponsor uses to promote their products, services, etc.

    #2.. perks… the best private suites, parking spots, “Club Seats,” etc.

    #3… “goodwill”… if the naming-rights deal helps to reduce a tax burden for stadium funding… there’s a valuable amount of “goodwill” generated for the sponsoring business.

    Deals like the Xcel Energy Center and Target Field, where the money goes to the team owner and not into stadium funding (or is used to fund the owners stadium contribution), there’s a possibility to generate “ill will” for the sponsoring business which reduces the value of the deal.

  123. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2009 - 08:12 am.

    I have always thought naming rights were a vanity purchase for companies, a sign that companies have lost touch with their business. A lot of companies who have purchased naming rights to sports facilities have gone broke. Enron Field in Houston comes immediately to mind but there are many others. Perhaps sports facilities named after bankrupt companies should be required to retain their names as a reminder to all of us of the dangers of corporate hubris.

    That said, for companies who want to participate in the naming rights fad, I am all in favor of their developing strategies to make the deal work for them. I think the purchasing companies have a far better idea of how to do that than the operating authority.

  124. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/26/2009 - 09:14 am.

    The AZ Cardinals stadium that opened in 2006 is called University of Phoenix Stadium… The University of Phoenix is an internet school with no sports program.

    They’re paying $8 million to place their name on the stadium…. and as a result of the 2008 Super Bowl being played there, the University of Phoenix’s enrollment doubled.

    You tell me if naming-right is worth it… What’s $8 million per year… it would cost that much to run 3 Super Bowl commercials.

    By the way… University of Phoenix officials brag about being undefeated in their stadium.

  125. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/26/2009 - 09:26 am.

    //
    Mr. Wilf checks in with another $300 Million, $300 Million from the Fiscal Disparities Pool and the rest with a MOA Zone sales tax, that does it, what say yee???

    I say “no”. $600 million public dollars is simply too much. This is not public infrastructure. If you want to speculate on retail-sports-entertainment structures do so with private money. The list of failed publicly subsidized retail complexes is already too long. If Ziggy’s “vision” were that compelling he’d be able to find private investors. You want to speculate on retail ventures use your own money, you’re not entitled to tax revenue.

    I see Hiram is back with his “why do I care if it’s a good deal for someone?” gambit. To begin with it’s not about making deals, it’s about making public policy. Deals are about making money, policy is about setting agendas and establishing priorities. Sports is never a public priority, it’s an amenity at best and should be prioritized accordingly. Any endeavor that elevates sports to the level of necessity by capturing hundreds of millions of public dollars distorts public policy and is ultimately harmful to the public. We end up with welfare programs for billionaires while our bridges collapse, our health care gets cut, our schools fail, and our government is corrupted into solving sports problems instead of solving budget crises.

    As “deals” go these stadiums haven’t been good deals for the public for decades. The bankruptcy of the economic arguments has been demonstrated ad nauseam. I can only conclude that Hiram’s idea of a good deal is any deal that keeps the team since he cannot envision a deal that would be good for the public but still loses the team. Maybe some deals that keep the team are better than others, but any deal that keeps the team is a better deal than any deal that loses the team in Hiram’s universe. From a public policy perspective this is incoherent because “keeping the team” at any cost is a not legitimate public policy nor is it a legitimate public priority. Never trust anyone who isn’t willing to walk away to make a good deal for you.

    These stadium deals are public subsidies, and they are bailouts. The argument is that the owners are not making as much money as they want to, and that they need more money to stay in place. This is no different than any other industry claiming it will go out of business or move it’s business unless it’s subsidized. Blackmail may be an ugly word but that’s what it amounts to. The only reason it works is because policy is distorted into treating sports like a priority instead of an amenity.

    You have here in this thread now a perfect example of the circularity of these stadium arguments. First it’s about the economy, then it’s about intangibles, then it’s about the economy again and round and round it goes. When the economic argument collapses we hear about the intangibles and how it’s NOT about the economy. Then when we notice that a few hundred million bucks is a lot of money for an “intangible” it’s about the economy again. Then when we remember the economic argument is bankrupt we’re told it’s not about the economic benefits it’s the intangibles.

    Meanwhile what we know for a absolute fact is that the majority of people in any city, county, or state will refuse to build these stadiums if given a choice. At the end of the day people actually get it, they understand the difference between “fan” subsidized sports and “taxpayer” subsidized sports. They understand the difference between being a fan and being a citizen. Hiram et al can talk about deals and intangibles all they want but at the end of the day they know they’re arguments fail and the only way to get the stadium is to subvert democracy and force stadium taxes of kind down the public throat. The argument is circular because it’s irrelevant, it’s not the argument that wins the day, it’s the distortion of public policy and the corruption of democracy that get stadiums built. We spend 20 years voting down stadiums until they figure out a way to get around our vote, and then they call it “leadership”. I call it betrayal.

    There is no question whether or not these stadiums are appropriate public priorities, they are not. There is no question whether hundred of millions of public dollars should be spent on these welfare programs for billionaires, they should not. We know this because because whenever people are given any meaningful way to answer these questions the answer is always “no”, and people are right. So teams move around, are bought and sold, whatever. If L.A. can survive without football so can we. The only question is how are stadium promoters gonna screw the public this time?

  126. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2009 - 10:41 am.

    I think there is some reason to think that student enrollment at the University of Phoenix has increased in the last two years, but I don’t see any evidence that it has doubled, and I doubt that holding the Super Bowl there has had much impact on enrollment. Linking the University of Phoenix with a football stadium sends a message that a college is local. And the Apollo Group is a company I would mostly stay away from.

    “You tell me if naming-right is worth it… What’s $8 million per year… it would cost that much to run 3 Super Bowl commercials.”

    My personal opinion is that naming rights as a rule, are not worth it. I think it’s a sign of corporate hubris, a taking of the eye off the ball. The list of failed companies who bought naming rights is suspiciously long. That said, if a company like TCF wants to hand the public millions of dollars for signage rights, I will gladly cash their checks, and I will do it pretty quickly, before they bounce.

  127. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2009 - 10:53 am.

    “I see Hiram is back with his “why do I care if it’s a good deal for someone?” gambit. To begin with it’s not about making deals, it’s about making public policy.”

    I totally agree. If it’s good public policy, I don’t care if someone else gets a good deal out of it.

    “Deals are about making money, policy is about setting agendas and establishing priorities.”

    Sure.

    “Sports is never a public priority, it’s an amenity at best and should be prioritized accordingly.”

    The fact that stadiums do get built is a conclusive refutation that they are a never a public priority. Amenities can be and often are priorities too.

    “The bankruptcy of the economic arguments has been demonstrated ad nauseam.”

    No one has ever won an argument saying stadiums are good for the economy. That in itself is evidence that economics are hardly ever the basis on which decisions to build stadiums are made. Nevertheless they do get built.

    “Meanwhile what we know for a absolute fact is that the majority of people in any city, county, or state will refuse to build these stadiums if given a choice.”

    Maybe, but the building of stadiums has a lot more public support than a lot of things the government does.

    “There is no question whether or not these stadiums are appropriate public priorities, they are not.”

    Of course there is a question. It may not be a priority for you, it may not even be a priority for me. But it’s a priority for others, and very often in the democratic process other people’s priorities prevail over mine.

    “We know this because because whenever people are given any meaningful way to answer these questions the answer is always “no”, and people are right.”

    Another meaningful way to answer these question is to observe what the public actually wants. My guess is that Twins tickets will sell very well next year.

  128. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/26/2009 - 11:16 am.

    Referendums for stadium funding have passed when the funding deal made sense.

    Arlington, TX passed a referendum in November 2004 to fund half the cost of a $650 million Cowboys stadium there with a 0.5% sales tax increase and various other taxes.

    The vote passed by a 55% to 45% margin.

    The Cowboys stadium project there grew into a $1.2 billion stadium, but the city of Arlington’s contribution stayed the same and the county decided to kick in $25 million.

    A referendum vote also passed to funding the AZ Cardinals new stadium.

    Don’t tell us referendums don’t pass, they do and there are other examples if you take the time to research the matter.

  129. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2009 - 11:58 am.

    “Arlington, TX passed a referendum in November 2004 to fund half the cost of a $650 million Cowboys stadium there with a 0.5% sales tax increase and various other taxes.”

    What’s particularly sensible about that? That tax rate is much higher than Hennepin County is paying for the Twins Stadium which will be used much more often. The Cowboys Stadium which will be used 8 time a year, is an extraordinarily bad deal financially, for the people of Dallas.

  130. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/26/2009 - 12:00 pm.

    //Of course there is a question. It may not be a priority for you, it may not even be a priority for me. But it’s a priority for others, and very often in the democratic process other people’s priorities prevail over mine.

    Another meaningful way to answer these question is to observe what the public actually wants. My guess is that Twins tickets will sell very well next year.

    Yes, we’re entitled to our different priorities, but that’s not the issue. The issue is public policy, collective priorities, and we know this not a public priority because the public keeps voting these deals down. If you want to argue that stadiums are just as unimportant as some other things government does be my guest. These stadiums don’t get built because they’re public priorities, they get built because billionaires have more clout than homeless people. We have big government for billionaires and small government for everyone else. The question isn’t whether or not the wants to watch football, the question is whether or not the public want to build stadiums for billionaires, again we know the answer to that question is “no”. Ticket sales may be a sign of business success for the teams, but they don’t demonstrate policy success. I remind you we have almost five million people in this state, not even half of them will ever go to a Vikings or a Twins game more than once or twice in a lifetime.

  131. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/26/2009 - 12:28 pm.

    “The Cowboys Stadium which will be used 8 time a year, is an extraordinarily bad deal financially, for the people of Dallas.”

    First of all it’s Arlington not Dallas. I advised a company that fought a $1 billion Cowboys stadium in Dallas to be funded primarily with hotel and car rental taxes.

    And your comment about the Cowboys stadium being used only 8 times a year is absurd.

    Here are eleven major event during the next 4 months… not including any possible Cowboys playoff games.

    Sunday, November 1, 2009 Cowboys vs Seahawks
    Sunday, November 22, 2009 Cowboys vs Redskins
    Thursday, November 26, 2009 Cowboys vs Raiders
    Saturday, November 28, 2009 Baylor vs. Texas Tech
    Saturday, December 5, 2009 Big 12 Championship
    Sunday, December 13, 2009 Cowboys vs Chargers
    Saturday, December 19, 2009 UNC vs. Texas
    Saturday, January 2, 2010 AT&T Cotton Bowl
    Sunday, January 3, 2010 Cowboys vs Eagles
    Sunday, February 14, 2010 NBA All Star Game
    Saturday, February 20, 2010 Professional Bull Riders

    Do you know they’re charging $15 just to tour the place?

    Do you know the 2011 Super Bowl will be played there?.

    Do you know the NCAA Final Four will be played there in 2014?

    Do you know the 2013 NCAA Men’s basketball regionals will be played there?

    I think the city of Arlington got a bargain.

  132. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2009 - 12:57 pm.

    “The issue is public policy, collective priorities, and we know this not a public priority because the public keeps voting these deals down.”

    But the public goes to them, when they are built. Lots of things would get voted down if you put them to a vote, but are still a public priority.

  133. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2009 - 01:04 pm.

    “Here are eleven major event during the next 4 months… not including any possible Cowboys playoff games.”

    All of those events aside from the Cowboy games would have done just as well at old Texas Stadium. Texas would have gotten most of them sooner or later. Some of them, the NBA all star game for one, are clearly inappropriate for the venue.

    Football is big in Texas, a priority if you will, and people are willing to pay for it. But the price they are paying is an extremely high one, and they won’t be getting a sufficient economic return for it. Whether it’s worth it in broader terms is for the people of Dallas to decide.

  134. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/26/2009 - 03:16 pm.

    Hiram… Again… Arlington NOT Dallas.

    Apparently, the citizens there wanted the new Cowboys stadium and its localized economic impact.

    There are inter-jurisdictional transfers of:
    ** public funds
    ** commercial activity
    ** tax revenues, etc.
    involved is such projects.

    Minneapolis will received localized benefits, but the tax for the Twins stadium is county-wide. I’m from Eden Prairie.. the stadium doesn’t help us, but we pay the higher county sales tax rate.

    Most likely the tax for a new Vikings will be Metro or statewide so I’m saying only statewide benefits should be determined… not localized benefits since Minneapolis will probably contribute only $10 million because a referendum is required there for local option sales tax increases.

  135. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/26/2009 - 03:21 pm.

    //But the public goes to them, when they are built. Lots of things would get voted down if you put them to a vote, but are still a public priority.

    The public “goes” to Home Depot, Costco, and McDonalds as well. Show me the Costco, Home Depot, or McDonalds that was built with two thirds public money? You’re providing a rationale for publicly subsidizing anything from bowling alleys to strip joints. Like I said, stadium promoters obscure public policy, that’s how they get stadiums built.

  136. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2009 - 04:32 pm.

    “I’m from Eden Prairie.. the stadium doesn’t help us, but we pay the higher county sales tax rate.”

    Don’t people from Eden Prairie go to Twins games, watch them on TV, or listen to them on the radio?

    “Most likely the tax for a new Vikings will be Metro or statewide so I’m saying only statewide benefits should be determined.”

    The benefit we would have is the Vikings. And for that, we would pay a price in some form or another, as is happening with Hennepin County and the Twins.

    “Show me the Costco, Home Depot, or McDonalds that was built with two thirds public money?”

    The Vikings aren’t like any of those businesses.

    “You’re providing a rationale for publicly subsidizing anything from bowling alleys to strip joints.”

    Not to mention Costco’s etc. Sure. If we want businesses to come to our communities, it may very well be the case that we offer subsidies of one kind or another. Or we could stay philosophically pure and not offer such subsidies and see those businesses go elsewhere while we remain righteous in our poverty. Maybe that’s the choice we should making, but I think we should just be clear about it.

    The Vikings presence in Minnesota is for sale. What it comes down to is whether we want to purchase it, and whether the price is right.

  137. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/26/2009 - 06:42 pm.

    //Or we could stay philosophically pure and not offer such subsidies and see those businesses go elsewhere while we remain righteous in our poverty.

    Right, the loss of the Vikings is going to plunge us all into poverty. And you claim to not be making economic arguments. Most people don’t mind some public spending that benefits business, we’re all adults here. These stadiums are unique in several regards. The companies being bailed out are NOT in any legitimate crises. The economic stimulus is minimal. The amount of money is huge, far larger than and delivered to a much smaller number of people than in almost any other subsidy.

  138. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/27/2009 - 06:54 am.

    “And you claim to not be making economic arguments.”

    I don’t claim at all to be making economic arguments. Quite the contrary. Economically, the Costco is a much better bet.

    “The companies being bailed out are NOT in any legitimate crises.”

    Let’s be very clear here. A Vikings Stadium is not a bailout. The Vikings are an incredibly lucrative business whose only crisis is determining just how much money they want to print. Purchasing the Vikings continued presence in Minnesota isn’t an economic necessity, it’s purely discretionary. And the questions we ask when we make discretionary purchases are always pretty much the same. Do we really want it? And if so, how much are we willing to pay? Those are the questions we should be asking as a community about keeping the Vikings here.

  139. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/27/2009 - 07:25 am.

    “And the questions we ask when we make discretionary purchases are always pretty much the same. Do we really want it? And if so, how much are we willing to pay? Those are the questions we should be asking as a community about keeping the Vikings here.”

    Do we want the Vikings to stay in MN? YES

    How much are we willing to pay? I think the public receive about a third of the total benefits, so the public should contribute a third of the total of all the elements of an NFL venture.

    I think businesses and season tickets holders should contribute one third and I think the team owner should contribute a third.

    When and where will the public debate begin? Probably 2 or 3 weeks before the end of the next legislative session. I’ve seen this stadium issue movie 12 times now and that’s how it works.

    Where are the new stadium drawings we paid over $2 million for and where is the new construction cost breakdown for the project?

    Let the new Vikings “Stadium Games” begin!

  140. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/27/2009 - 08:11 am.

    “I think the public receive about a third of the total benefits, so the public should contribute a third of the total of all the elements of an NFL venture.”

    That’s ok but if it isn’t enough, that’s a decision to allow the Vikings to leave.

    We must understand that the basis on which we formulate an offer has nothing at all to do with how the Vikings decide what is acceptable. If I’m the Vikings, I have no interest in all in how the prospective buyers of what I have to sell formulate their offer.

    “I think businesses and season tickets holders should contribute one third and I think the team owner should contribute a third.”

    That’s nice, but those folks already contribute a huge amount to keeping the Vikings here. What about freeloaders like me? I haven’t been to a game in more than 30 years, and when I watch them on tv I flip through the commercials. How much should I pay? I can tell you that a .5% increase in the sales tax is way too much, a total non-starter.

  141. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/27/2009 - 09:33 am.

    //And the questions we ask when we make discretionary purchases are always pretty much the same. Do we really want it? And if so, how much are we willing to pay? Those are the questions we should be asking as a community about keeping the Vikings here.

    You can keep pretending that this question hasn’t been asked and answered, but it has, the answer is “no”. We voted these stadim deals down for 20 years. Yes, people would like the teams to stay, but no they don’t want pay hundreds of millions of dollars to keep them. Again, these stadiums don’t get built because of popular support, they built because we have a corrupt political system that works around public interests rather than for it. The Twins deal was an incredibly convoluted deal specifically designed to freeze the people out of the decision. Sure, no one got voted out, but that’s not because the plan was popular, it’s because people didn’t behave like single issue voters, and the plan was specifically designed to insulate politicians from consequences.

    The reason guys like Tony get so hysterical about this is they know there’s always the possibility, however remote, that reason and democracy will win the day. We all know that means we start losing teams until the sports economy sorts itself out.

    Yes, this is discretionary spending, but the only reason it’s even considered is because the owners claim they’re losing money and they need new stadiums to stay competitive. They threaten to sell or leave BECAUSE THEY’RE LOSING MONEY- that’s what makes these deals bailouts. I’m not a sport guy but even I know the Pohlads chief complaint about dome was financial, and that’s also Wilf’s complaint, not enough boxes blah blah. These deals end up becoming a defacto taxpayer guarantee of return on the owners investments. And it’s an endless cycle, they’re industry has hit a financial wall. They can’ make more money any other way, they can’t cut players salaries, or charge more from the fans. The only way they can pump up the value and revenue is with new stadiums, and they don’t want to pay for them themselves. That’s what’s so funny, for the taxpayer this is all supposed all intangible and priceless, but for the owners it’s all about the money. What’s wrong with that pictures?

  142. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/27/2009 - 09:55 am.

    “That’s nice, but those folks already contribute a huge amount to keeping the Vikings here. What about freeloaders like me? I haven’t been to a game in more than 30 years, and when I watch them on tv I flip through the commercials. How much should I pay? I can tell you that a .5% increase in the sales tax is way too much, a total non-starter.”

    You may or may not be a “freeloader” but aren’t you a citizen-taxpayer-voter?.. Aren’t you a member of the general public?

    And I’m not proposing any “new” taxes to fund the public portion. Only truly “but for” taxes, land (which we already own), infrastructure (which federal stimulus money can help fund), and tax relief.

    Where’s the damn debate?? Where do I sign up?

  143. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/27/2009 - 10:09 am.

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… THERE’S NO GOOD TIME FOR A BAD STADIUM DEAL AND NO BAD TIME FOR A GOOD STADIUM DEAL. THIS WOULD BE A VERY GOOD TIME FOR A GOOD VIKINGS STADIUM DEAL.

    And what is a “GOOD STADIUM DEAL?” It’s a deal that benefits the team owners, businesses, season ticket holders, and the general public.

    It’s a win X4 solution and we’re nowhere near to it yet… and why is that? It’s because those how didn’t see the public benefit or minimize it aren’t engaged in the debate to find a solution and they don’t realize what’s going on to forward the stadium proponents plans behind closed doors.

    And the funny part is they voted for the Hennepin County commissioners that pulled off the egregious stunt of a referendum “waiver” to pull an “end run” around the will of the People.

    If ignorance is bliss… we’re having a gay ol’ time, aren’t we?

  144. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/27/2009 - 10:16 am.

    “You can keep pretending that this question hasn’t been asked and answered, but it has, the answer is “no”.”

    I am pretending no such thing. But for stadium forces the key is to not stop asking the questions, and also to find the right people to ask. The Twins stadium was built not because it was a good deal for Minnesotans but because stadium proponents wore out stadium opponents, and because they searched out and found a governmental unit that was willing to say yes.

    “Again, these stadiums don’t get built because of popular support, they built because we have a corrupt political system that works around public interests rather than for it. The Twins deal was an incredibly convoluted deal specifically designed to freeze the people out of the decision.”

    All those things are true, but what do they matter? By identifying free speech with money, we have made the political and moral decision to embrace corruption. That being the case, what we do politically has to considered within that context.

    “Yes, this is discretionary spending, but the only reason it’s even considered is because the owners claim they’re losing money and they need new stadiums to stay competitive.”

    I assure you that’s not the case with the NFL. (I always thought that was truer for Carl Pohlad whose curmudgeonly public image, prevented the message that he was really keeping the Twins here out of his miserly understanding of what was in the public interest.) If the Wilf’s are losing money with the Vikings, it’s because they paid too much for the business, not because of any problems with business itself.

    “They can’ make more money any other way, they can’t cut players salaries, or charge more from the fans.”

    In relative terms, NFL players are dirt cheap. What’s killing the Wilf’s is the interest they are paying on their purchase, and that’s the result of paying too much in the expectation that they would get a new stadium.

  145. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/27/2009 - 10:23 am.

    “THERE’S NO GOOD TIME FOR A BAD STADIUM DEAL AND NO BAD TIME FOR A GOOD STADIUM DEAL. THIS WOULD BE A VERY GOOD TIME FOR A GOOD VIKINGS STADIUM DEAL.”

    And neither is relevant. After the lease expires, we don’t get to decide the timing of any deal. So what might be a good or bad time for us couldn’t possibly matter less. Right now, the Vikings are stuck here with a lease, and we have owners who have indicated a desire to stay here, and that gives strength to our bargaining position. But as every day passes, the value of the lease declines, and the Wilfs can always change their minds or sell out to someone who hasn’t made the commitment they have. Our bargaining position is in steady decline until it is reduced to nothing. That being the case, there will be no better time to make a deal for us than now.

    “And what is a “GOOD STADIUM DEAL?” It’s a deal that benefits the team owners, businesses, season ticket holders, and the general public.”

    Possibly, but what’s good for team owners, businesses, etc. is for them to decide. We as the public have to decide what’s good for us. We don’t get to decide what’s good for other people.

  146. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/27/2009 - 11:18 am.

    //By identifying free speech with money, we have made the political and moral decision to embrace corruption. That being the case, what we do politically has to considered within that context.

    Hiram, thank you. This is closest thing to an honest exchange I’ve ever seen on this issue. It took a while but there it is. We’ve finally established that this is not about good deals or bad deals for the public; it’s about a corrupt government working for the benefit of billionaires and other wealthy actors at public expense. It is indeed about big government for billionaires and small government for everyone else.

    I’m not sure however the consensus you suggest, i.e. the “embrace” of that corruption is truly manifest. The corruption is heavily obscured and rarely openly talked about. I think the fact that referendum laws even exist demonstrates that opposition to these stadiums has been deep and sustained.

    I wonder what would happen if opposition managed to re-frame the debate as corrupt public subsidy for a failed business and economic model? Would that energize people enough to prevail? If the question for politicians was “how corrupt are you?” instead of “how big a fan are you?” I wonder if it would change the dynamics.

  147. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/27/2009 - 12:15 pm.

    Sure government is corrupt. The question is whether we want corrupt government with NFL football, or corrupt government without it.

    “I’m not sure however the consensus you suggest, i.e. the “embrace” of that corruption is truly manifest. The corruption is heavily obscured and rarely openly talked about.”

    I think people work hard to do that. They rationalize it in a variety of ways. And a lot of people who should be talking about it, have in effect been bought off.

    “I think the fact that referendum laws even exist demonstrates that opposition to these stadiums has been deep and sustained.”

    Well, shallow and sustained. Support for stadiums is deep and sustained. We have a new Twins stadium because the people who wanted it outlasted those who didn’t.

    “I wonder what would happen if opposition managed to re-frame the debate as corrupt public subsidy for a failed business and economic model?”

    Corruption exists because it works. It creates jobs, it builds community, it provides us with the things we want. It is a successful business model.

    Politicians want stadiums, not because they are big fans, but because of the ancillary benefits they bring. In the short term, they put people to work. In the longer term, they can contribute to a generalized feeling of well being conducive to the re-election of incumbents. I thought the process that resulted in the building of the Twins stadium was as cynical as anything I have seen in politics. Clearly, a two bit operation like the Hennepin County board had no business making that decision on the behalf of residents. Their willingness to impose the burden of building Twins Stadium, a facility which benefits all Minnesotans, on the taxpayers of Hennepin County was utterly contemptible. But there was no outrage. No angry editorials from the Strib; no eloquent denunciations from the suspiciously compliant legislature. It was just a dirty little deal, that needed to be done, which no one wanted to be seen doing. And what’s the result of all this nefarious corruption? A beautiful new stadium which everyone is going to love which will keep the Twins here for decades to come. And by the way every single one of those Hennepin County commissioners who voted for that deal has been re-elected.

  148. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/27/2009 - 01:01 pm.

    “I wonder what would happen if opposition managed to re-frame the debate as corrupt public subsidy for a failed business and economic model? Would that energize people enough to prevail? If the question for politicians was “how corrupt are you?” instead of “how big a fan are you?” I wonder if it would change the dynamics.”

    You can start by asking Commission Opat and the other three member of the”Four Horsemen” who supported the Twins stadium funding plan.

  149. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/27/2009 - 01:25 pm.

    “What’s killing the Wilf’s is the interest they are paying on their purchase, and that’s the result of paying too much in the expectation that they would get a new stadium.”

    Wilf is carrying too much debt from the purchase of the franchise, but he got a bargain. He paid $600 million for a franchise that was valued by Forbes a few months later at $658 million. The franchise is currently valued at $835 million and the average NFL franchise is now valued at $1.042 BILLION.

    Wilf is equity rich, but cash-flow poor… he’s had to make a number of cash calls from the ownership group to keep the Vikings ship afloat.

    Having the league’s 3rd highest player salaries and lowest revenues doesn’t help. Keep in mind those revenues include $15 – $20 million from other teams in revenue-sharing that will likely go away soon.

    Plus the lack of “Club Seats” means the Vikings are contributing little if anything to the NFL’s G-3 stadium funding program. The other NFL owners don’t appreciate this and would clearly vote to approve a Vikings more to L.A. if it comes to that.

  150. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/27/2009 - 02:57 pm.

    Does anyone have a funding plan to propose?

    Just saying “NO” won’t resolve the problem.

    Yes, there is a problem. How would you fix it?

  151. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/27/2009 - 03:48 pm.

    “He paid $600 million for a franchise that was valued by Forbes a few months later at $658 million. The franchise is currently valued at $835 million and the average NFL franchise is now valued at $1.042 BILLION.”

    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to those Forbes numbers. The franchise is worth what somebody will pay for it. But that doesn’t matter if Wilf isn’t selling. What does matter is the interest checks he has to write.

    With respect to the Forbes number, is that with a stadium or the prospect of a stadium or without? Those will be two very different numbers. If the price Wilf paid and the loan he took out to buy the Vikings assumed he would have a stadium, than he is going to be very cash strapped until he gets one.

    “Having the league’s 3rd highest player salaries and lowest revenues doesn’t help.”

    The x factor with respect to revenues is the stadium. If he gets one, they will shoot up, increasing the value of the team.

    “The other NFL owners don’t appreciate this and would clearly vote to approve a Vikings more to L.A. if it comes to that.”

    My understanding is that several other teams are ahead of the Vikings in line to move to L.A., Jacksonville in particular. But the Vikings are a drag on the league, and they will approve a move if the Vikings want one. The question is where?

  152. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/27/2009 - 05:32 pm.

    //Corruption exists because it works. It creates jobs, it builds community, it provides us with the things we want. It is a successful business model.

    Nice Hiram, that’s a winning argument: “Embrace corruption- it works!”

    There’s a difference between wisdom and cynicism. I think you’re overstating the utility of corruption. For sure there’s bound to be a certain amount of corruption in any government or system, and many systems are robust enough to accommodate some corruption, but that doesn’t mean governance works better when corrupt. Corruption also brought us the mortgage and banking disasters.

    Tony, here’s the thing: I know you want us to believe that Ziggy’s financial situation is our problem but many of know that it isn’t. It may be hard to find anyone other than the aforementioned corrupt politicians who are interested in solving this “problem”. The rest of us have problems of our own to solve. Dude you’re simply not entitled to taxpayer guaranteed pro sports. Your the one who should be talking to Opat.

  153. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/27/2009 - 09:51 pm.

    So many words and not a single creative idea or concept. You dudes should start twittering to at least save keystrokes.

    The Twins stadium deal will seem like a bargain when Zygi’s done with you.

  154. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/27/2009 - 10:45 pm.

    Here’s a couple ideas Tony,

    1) Make all games pay-per-view on cable and use the revenue for stadiums.

    2) Cut player pay or enact a national pro-athlete stadium income tax.

    3) Cap any public contribution at $50 million dollars so the teams know exactly how much money they need to come up with.

    4) Levy a national stadium income tax on the owners.

    5) Low interest loans.

    6) I bet a bunch of billionaires could set up some kind of private loan institution.

    7) Like all the other bailouts we build the stadiums but extract concessions from the sports leagues. They should be required to restructure their revenue sharing, cap salaries at $500,000 and demonstrate financial viability within five years. Financial viability defined as their being able to build their own stadiums without public subsidies.

    As you can see, pro sports owns this “problem”, they need to be solving it. Basically pro-sports is a failed business model. They cannot grow their revenue without massive public subsidies and they do not generate enough revenue to build their own locations/stadiums i.e. sustain their operations. More precisely, they may generate the revenue but they’ve structured their books in such a way as to render the funding for their own venues unavailable. Why should taxpayers subsidize a failed business model? I know I know, horror of horrors we’ll lose a team.

  155. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 07:00 am.

    “that’s a winning argument: “Embrace corruption- it works!””

    I am neither embracing it or not embracing it. I am merely recognizing the reality it is. The Supreme Court, in declaring campaign finance laws unconstitutional, decided to embrace corruption as part of the price for freedom. Those guys did far better on their SAT’s than I did and I must accept their decision whether I agree with it or not.

    Here are some responses to the suggestions:

    “1) Make all games pay-per-view on cable and use the revenue for stadiums.”

    We are already paying for games by commercials. If pay per view would generate more revenue, that’s what we would have but we don’t.

    “2) Cut player pay or enact a national pro-athlete stadium income tax.”

    Pro football players are already shamefully underpaid. And they shouldn’t pay taxes any differently than any other worker in our society.

    “3) Cap any public contribution at $50 million dollars so the teams know exactly how much money they need to come up with.”

    That will favor large cities like Los Angeles or cities willing to engage in crafty accounting like San Francisco.

    “4) Levy a national stadium income tax on the owners.”

    “5) Low interest loans.”

    That’s a subsidy. Who will pay for it?

    “6) I bet a bunch of billionaires could set up some kind of private loan institution.”

    Don’t billionaires have better things to do with their money? Like establishing literacy programs?

    “7) Like all the other bailouts we build the stadiums but extract concessions from the sports leagues. They should be required to restructure their revenue sharing, cap salaries at $500,000 and demonstrate financial viability within five years. Financial viability defined as their being able to build their own stadiums without public subsidies.”

    What business is it of ours, how the pro leagues run their business. Our interest is the same we have with any business; that it be run efficiently and well contributing to the general prosperity.

  156. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 08:48 am.

    Paul… you looking forward to “death panels” to cut healthcare costs?

    Do you agree with government shutting down profitable car dealerships and bailing out banks too? You must love the idea of 90% pay cuts for the top executives of bailed out companies.

    Funding based on benefit is fair, logical, practical, and politically supportable. It lays cards on the table that you don’t even know exist.

  157. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 09:04 am.

    Funding based on benefit is fair, logical, practical, and politically supportable.

    But what does “benefit” mean? How you come down on any issue depends on what you include withing the scope of “benefit”.

  158. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/28/2009 - 09:40 am.

    //I am neither embracing it or not embracing it.

    You’re statement speaks for itself Hiram, you clearly endorsed corruption as a legitimate means of greasing the skids of public policy. You’re claim of neutrality is unconvincing.

    //Here are some responses to the suggestions:

    //We are already paying for games by commercials. If pay per view would generate more revenue, that’s what we would have but we don’t.

    Viewers would pay in addition to the commercials. Besides, advertisers not fans pay to have commercials aired during the games and I think the teams capture some of that revenue don’t they? Obviously this would generate more revenue. It would be a way of collecting from couch potatoes like you, and admit it you would pay. The fact that’s it’s not currently being done doesn’t prove it would generate additional revenue. Fans aren’t baring the burden of stadiums because taxpayers are doing it. You’ve created a socialized professional sports industry.

    //Pro football players are already shamefully underpaid. And they shouldn’t pay taxes any differently than any other worker in our society.

    Surely you jest. These people are playing a game for a living. Any other company or industry that experiences financial stress like the owners claim to be encountering seeks concessions form it’s employees why are athletes exempt from this fundamental economic principle? Pro athletes should be subjected to special taxes because they benefit disproportionately from public subsidies. Such a tax would be something like windfall profit tax. In exchange for public subsidies for instance auto workers have been obliged to take pay and benefit cuts. Why should pro athletes be financially exempt from their billion dollars debts to the public?

    //”3) Cap any public contribution at $50 million dollars

    //That will favor large cities like Los Angeles or cities willing to engage in crafty accounting like San Francisco.

    Whatever. The point is to limit financial damage to the public purse. Yes, that might mean teams will move around. The public is NOT obligated to provide pro-sports.

    //”4) Levy a national stadium income tax on the owners.”

    “5) Low interest loans.”

    That’s a subsidy. Who will pay for it?

    Well, the owners would pay the income tax on the owners. And the owners would repay the loans. So the answer is the owners, as it should be, it’s their business, they should pay for it.

    //Don’t billionaires have better things to do with their money? Like establishing literacy programs?

    We’ve landed in Alice’s wonderland. Billionaires finance public programs while taxpayers finance billionaire investments. I don’t know about billionaires but taxpayers definitely have better things to do with their money.

    //What business is it of ours, how the pro leagues run their business. Our interest is the same we have with any business; that it be run efficiently and well contributing to the general prosperity.

    Like any other industry they make it our business when they seek and accept hundred of millions of public dollars. The fact that they cannot finance their locations- stadiums proves that they are not efficiently run. Just like the auto industry and the banking industry if they were run efficiently they would not require taxpayer subsidies ad infinitum. Obviously they have a failed business model. Stadiums are an existential necessity for their industry yet they claim they cannot afford to build them without massive public subsidy. If McDonalds made a similar claim it would immediately recognized as a failed business model. Pro sports is a particularly severe failure because they’re not even seeking to expand or grow like normal businesses, they’re failing to merely sustain they’re existing business. They’re not building additional stadiums or launching additional teams, they’re merely seeking to replace existing stadiums and maintain existing teams, and they’re failing. You want to give them tax dollars, fine, but why should they be exempt from basic economic principles that accompany any other public bailouts?

  159. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 09:48 am.

    Hiram… team owners, businesses, sports fans, and the general public all receive tangible and intangible benefits. Part of the debate should be how do you place a dollar value on those benefits.

    I think the benefits are about 1/3 team owners, 1/3 businesses & season ticket holders, and 1/3 general public.

    I use to think the general public’s benefit should be cut in half because owners, businesses, and fans should be contributing members of society. That’s why you’ll see an 80% private and 20% public Venture Funding Formula on our TwinDomes proposal.

    Everything is debatable, but there needs to be a debate and a logic to the debate.

  160. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/28/2009 - 09:49 am.

    Don’t be such a stickler for details Hiram. Whatever the “benefit” is all we need to know is we’re getting two thirds of it. So just shut up and hand over the money.

  161. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 10:18 am.

    “you clearly endorsed corruption as a legitimate means of greasing the skids of public policy.”

    Fell free to read it that way. Personally, I think it was the Supreme Court and other institutions in our society that set the rule. I simply feel I have to live by them.

    “Surely you jest. These people are playing a game for a living.”

    They are paid much less than athletes in other sports, their careers are shorter, and the long term costs of playing football are much greater. The fact that pro football franchises are so incredibly profitable, is to some degree based on the low salaries it pays it’s players.

    “Like any other industry they make it our business when they seek and accept hundred of millions of public dollars.”

    Nonsense. In paying them money, we aren’t buying an equity interest we are purchasing a product, in this case the continued presence of the Vikings in Minnesota. I as a customer do not have the right to tell manufacturers how to run their businesses. I do have the right to decide whether I want to purchase their product or not. Pro football franchises have done an excellent job in creating a profitable business. I doubt if I or the government could do better.

  162. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 10:22 am.

    “Part of the debate should be how do you place a dollar value on those benefits.”

    Is it really meaningful to place a dollar value on the experience of watching a football game? Or is that just an exercise in fiction? Looking at things in terms of “benefit” is simply to assume away the issues. In any event, how we formulate our offer has no relevance at all to the seller, in this case, the Vikings. We must decide either to meet their price or not.

  163. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/28/2009 - 11:18 am.

    //I as a customer do not have the right to tell manufacturers how to run their businesses.

    Yes but we’re not talking about customer financed stadiums, we’re talking about taxpayer financed stadiums. The analogy here isn’t a new Target location that gets some TIFF money or publicly financed road work. We’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars and paying one half or more of the total construction costs. Public money is very different than customer money. Taxpayers money is not voluntary, taxpayers have no choice but to pay taxes. Customers can choose where to spend their dollars. This is why in almost any other public funding situation the public gets a stake of some kind in the outcome.

    I repeat, the analogy here is closer to the auto industry or the bank industry, and yes, our money does give us vote regarding the business model. At any rate, it’s a very a bizarre business deal indeed whereby any party would cough up one half to two thirds of the start up money and NOT acquire some kind of concrete stake in the projects outcome, revenue, or business plan. Is that how you do business?

    As far as football player salaries are concerned, any athlete that making more than half a million bucks a year is overpaid, and at any rate regardless of how much basketball or baseball players are paid it’s not a taxpayer problem or responsibility. The government doesn’t guarantee that kind of pay equity anywhere else in the economy why should it do so for athletes? They have a lot of money, they have unions, they can take of themselves.

  164. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 11:23 am.

    “We must decide either to meet their price or not.”

    BULL!! The price that’s on the table is the “sweetheart” deal of all “sweetheart” deals. It will never fly and it leads me to believe Zygi is on the verge of unloading the franchise and pocketing a huge profit “windfall” profit at Minnesota’s expense.

    Zygi’s playing “hardball” and everyone else is playing “paddy cake.”

  165. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 11:35 am.

    “Don’t be such a stickler for details Hiram. Whatever the “benefit” is all we need to know is we’re getting two thirds of it. So just shut up and hand over the money.”

    Someone does not grasp the concept of “but for” tax revenues.

    My concept of “but for” tax revenues involves the direct causation of “new” money that comes into the state because of the Vikings and the stadium they play in.

    It’s use or lose those tax revenues.

    No Vikings… no new stadium… and the Metrodome is obsolete and too expensive to keep.

  166. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 11:53 am.

    “The price that’s on the table is the “sweetheart” deal of all “sweetheart” deals”

    Then your answer is no, and a perfectly reasonable answer it is.

    “It will never fly and it leads me to believe Zygi is on the verge of unloading the franchise and pocketing a huge profit “windfall” profit at Minnesota’s expense.”

    That’s the risk you are assuming. Wilf has a right to do what he wants to do with his property, and if he has a better deal elsewhere we must assume he will take it. Zygi’s job is to deliver value for his investors, not provide football for Minnesotans, and we must expect him to act accordingly.

    “Zygi’s playing “hardball” and everyone else is playing “paddy cake.””

    There is no evidence at all that Zygi is playing hardball. He made a promise to keep the team here, a promise he certainly didn’t have to give, and that, I think, was a clear signal that he would not seek to maximize the revenue he expects to receive from his Vikings purchase. That might mean he would accept a good offer from Minnesota, even if there was a better offer on the table. But we should not interpret that to mean that Zygi’s generosity is without limits. He is not going to give away what he has to sell for nothing. He is going to insist on a reasonable return on his investment, and he is the one who gets to determine what’s reasonable.

  167. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 12:29 pm.

    Team owners are not the missing stadium funding sources… businesses and frequent fans are. How many time do I have to say that?

    The $835 million franchise Zygi brings to the table would satisfy most if not his entire Sports Venture contribution.

  168. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 01:03 pm.

    “businesses and frequent fans are. How many time do I have to say that?”

    You can say it as many times as you want, and it wouldn’t make it true. There is no way a fan or a business who pays more than a thousand dollars to watch the Vikings in person can in any way be fairly characterized as a missing funding source. The missing funding source is the overwhelming majority of fans who don’t go to them game, and indeed have never been to a game but still follow the team.

    We don’t get to decide what satisfies Zygi’s investors. I believe that it is not Zygi’s intent to hold us up for the last dollar, but he has a fiduciary obligation to deliver a good deal to his investors. We can’t reasonably ask him to do otherwise.

  169. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 01:52 pm.

    ” He (Zygi) is not going to give away what he has to sell for nothing. He is going to insist on a reasonable return on his investment, and he is the one who gets to determine what’s reasonable.”

    And what makes you believe Zygi isn’t negotiating a selling price right now or hasn’t already secretly sold the team?

    Do you expect Zygi to change the team logo to a “lame duck” during their last few seasons in MN?

  170. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 03:04 pm.

    “And what makes you believe Zygi isn’t negotiating a selling price right now or hasn’t already secretly sold the team?”

    I don’t think he has, but that’s the move that gets him out of the promise to keep the team here. The purchaser could pay him the amount a team would be worth if it played in a new stadium giving him the benefit of his original bargain.

    “Do you expect Zygi to change the team logo to a “lame duck” during their last few seasons in MN?”

    No. I am sure the Vikings will draw fans as long as they are here.

    Zygi has a product to sell, the continued presence of the Vikings in Minnesota. The price for that will be high, significantly higher than it would have been a few years ago when we were in a stronger bargaining position, but I don’t think it will be exorbitant. It won’t be as high as the price someone else is willing to pay, and it won’t be as high as the price of a replacement team would require a few years down the road. So the question is simple.

    Do we want what Zygi is selling at a price he is willing to sell it? And we should understand that if we do want an NFL team in Minnesota, we will never get as good a deal as we can get from Zygi right now.

  171. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 04:30 pm.

    “Do we want what Zygi is selling at a price he is willing to sell it? And we should understand that if we do want an NFL team in Minnesota, we will never get as good a deal as we can get from Zygi right now.”

    I doubt you know what the deal that’s on the table really is.

  172. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2009 - 05:27 pm.

    “I doubt you know what the deal that’s on the table really is.”

    I don’t. And whatever is on the table can still be negotiated. It may well be that the asking price is too high. But we should understand that the price of bringing NFL football back here will be much higher than the cost of keeping it here. And that if we do decide we want to keep the NFL here, our bargaining position will only weaken over time.

  173. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/28/2009 - 05:27 pm.

    Here it is in a nutshell.

    Paul would not contribute any amount of public funding to a new Vikings stadium project, Hiram would contribute any amount Zygi wants, and I would contribute the fair, logical, and practical amount.

    Case closed…

  174. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/28/2009 - 10:02 pm.

    //Here it is in a nutshell.

    Paul would not contribute any amount of public funding to a new Vikings stadium project, Hiram would contribute any amount Zygi wants, and I would contribute the fair, logical, and practical amount.

    Case closed…

    Geeze Tony, how could you read all these posts and still get it so wrong. I would limit public funding of any kind to maybe $50 million. You would come up with any amount Ziggy wants. Hiram likes to watch football but doesn’t seem to really care one way or the other if or how a stadium get built.

  175. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/29/2009 - 02:52 am.

    Plausible Outcomes:
    ** “No” deal
    ** “Sweetheart” deal
    ** Deal that’s good for Vikings & MN

  176. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/29/2009 - 06:55 am.

    Paul says: “I would limit public funding of any kind to maybe $50 million.”

    The publicly owned 20-acre Metrodome site is worth more than $50 million.

    The Winter Garden light rail station planned will cost about $50 million.

    Both public contributions that aren’t included in the $704 million public contribution asked for 2 years ago.

    $50 million would be next to nothing and “no” deal.

  177. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/29/2009 - 09:38 am.

    //Plausible Outcomes:
    ** “No” deal
    ** “Sweetheart” deal
    ** Deal that’s good for Vikings & MN

    See, this is the thing Tony, you’re incapable of acknowledging the possibility that there are deals that are good for the Viking but bad for Minnesota, MPLS, etc. You can imagine good deals and better deals, but you can’t imagine a bad deal you’d walk away from. This is why you’re public policy advice can’t be trusted. Your only priority is keeping the team. That’s fine, you’re entitled to your priorities, but you’re not entitled to tax revenue. That doesn’t mean you won’t get it, we have corrupted system that has become nearly incapable of making good public policy, but your not ENTITLED to it. It’s that sense of entitlement that irritates me I think more than anything else. You people just assume that we’re all obligated to solve you’re stadium problems while legitimate public issues like health care, transportation, and education languish at the hands of small government. We end up with big government for sports and small or no government for everything else. Is it just me or isn’t that just plain weird?

  178. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/29/2009 - 10:23 am.

    //Plausible Outcomes:
    ** “No” deal
    ** “Sweetheart” deal
    ** Deal that’s good for Vikings & MN

    See, this is the thing Tony, you’re incapable of acknowledging the possibility that there are deals that are good for the Viking but bad for Minnesota, MPLS, etc.

    _________________________

    What do you think a “Sweetheart” deal is?

    A “Sweetheart” deal is one that’s good for the team and bad for the general public. Duh!!

  179. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/29/2009 - 11:40 am.

    //A “Sweetheart” deal is one that’s good for the team and bad for the general public. Duh!!

    I stand corrected. But the question now is: are you willing to walk away from sweetheart deal if that’s the only one the Ziggy will agree to? Are you willing to let the team go rather than make a bad deal? History has shown that the Sweetheart deals are the only ones these owners are willing to accept.

  180. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/29/2009 - 01:27 pm.

    “Are you willing to let the team go rather than make a bad deal? History has shown that the Sweetheart deals are the only ones these owners are willing to accept.”
    ——————————–

    That’s not for me to decide, but I was the governor or a DFL House or Senate leader, I’d call Zygi’s bluff.

  181. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/29/2009 - 04:38 pm.

    Any deal that is made is going to be very very good for the Vikings. They will make out like bandits. So if it’s your position that a deal which is obscenely profitable for Zygi should be rejected, that’s the equivalent of saying that there should be no deal, and that the Vikings should move.

    I think the more reasonable position is to accept at the outset that Zygi will get a great deal. The only question is whether the deal will be good for us, whatever that might be. Clearly Dallas, with their .5% sales tax vastly overpaid for the Cowboys. John Marty, over at Community Voices, suggests we can keep the Vikes for ten bucks a year each, something that horrifies his clenched little soul but looks pretty good to me.

  182. Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/29/2009 - 05:48 pm.

    10 games a year x 20 years = 200 games.

    10 games a year x 40 years = 400 games.

    $200 million for a roof? Minimum, $500,000 per game, over 40 years.

    Vikings? We don’t need no stinking Vikings.

  183. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/29/2009 - 05:50 pm.

    5 million Minnesotans X $10 = $50 million/year

    Strangely, that’s about what the annual payments would be for 30 years on a $704 million public contribution.

    Way too much in my opinion… I doubt Senator Marty would go for it.

  184. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/30/2009 - 07:05 am.

    “10 games a year x 20 years = 200 games.

    10 games a year x 40 years = 400 games.

    $200 million for a roof? Minimum, $500,000 per game, over 40 years.

    Vikings? We don’t need no stinking Vikings.”
    _______________________________________________________________

    The roof is NOT for the games according to Zygi.

  185. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/30/2009 - 09:23 am.

    “Football in L.A.” article…
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-zirin29-2009oct29,0,5453451.story

    I agree with some of it.

  186. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/30/2009 - 11:20 am.

    If I were a California resident, one thing I would insist upon is that no government aid on any level either directly or indirectly should be employed to lure a sports franchise from one California city to another. San Diego and Oakland should both be off the table if the state is going to be involved.

  187. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 10/31/2009 - 08:12 am.

    Pawlenty on new Vikes stadium: “It’s certainly not something that’s on the front burner”

    http://www.startribune.com/blogs/67648537.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

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