Vikings stadium bill: the good, the bad, the ugly — a close look at its details

The Vikings have been talking off and on about paying one-third of an open-air stadium.
Ellerbe Becket
The Vikings have been talking off and on about paying one-third of an open-air stadium.

Amid the more important budget-focused conference committees set to kick off this week at the Capitol, Senate File 1164 will take center stage. It’s the Vikings stadium bill — one that Gov. Mark Dayton and others are calling a “good start.”

We beg to differ.

If you call a flawed proposal after nearly 10 years of discussion and lobbying at the Legislature and at county boards and city councils from Blaine to Minneapolis, from St. Paul to Arden Hills, a “start,” OK, we’ll permit that.

But “good”? No. Workable? Passable? Not close.

Here’s what’s in SF 1164. Here’s what’s not. And here’s what we wonder about.

Crazy cash
The first item is the state’s contribution to the plan. It includes a collection of “user fees” — new taxes, it could be argued, using Republican standards — and some grabbing of typical team revenues.

According to House Research (PDF), these new or extended taxes add up to about $30 million a year, enough to cover about $250 million to $300 million in bonding by a local community or the Metropolitan Council.

If the concept is that the state is going to kick in 33 percent of the cost — and that’s a bit unclear from the bill — that assumes a roofed stadium cost of between $750 million and $900 million.

As always, why so expensive? Secondly, do we have a construction plan that justifies such a cost? (Not yet, and no site, either.) Thirdly, why not insert a real dollar amount that the team must pay upfront? (The Twins bill had such a hard number back in 2006.)

For now, the bill states the team has to contribute “at least $1 for every $2 of state and local money,” and the team must pay for cost overruns.

The overruns clause, as it was in the Twins deal, is good. Keep it. The team’s one-third share is too small. Change it.

Typical taxes
Here’s how the state is going to generate that $30 million a year.

• A wholesale tax of 10 percent on “sports memorabilia” licensed by ALL PROFESSIONAL LEAGUES and ALL TEAMS, not just the NFL or the Vikings. (Ya think the other leagues and local teams might be opposed to this? Some are.) Among the memorabilia items: trading cards, clothing and sports equipment.

OK, that’s fine.

• Another possible funding source included in the bill is a new Vikings-themed Minnesota Lottery game.

Sure, why not?

• Taking revenues on stadium naming rights and putting a surcharge on player salaries. Sounds good, but counter-productive. (More on these later.)

The so-called local partner or host community will be given the option “adopted by its governing body” — not referendum — to pick from a cocktail of taxes: local sales, liquor, hotel/motel, a ticket tax, etc.

But if the stadium winds up in Hennepin County and/or Minneapolis, there are provisions to use the Twins ballpark’s county-wide sales tax — once Target Field debt is covered — and/or the Minneapolis taxes used to pay off the Convention Center.

These will be topics of much local debate, including whether Minneapolis’ charter provision applies. It prohibits the city from using “resources over $10 million dollars for the financing of professional sports facilities” without a citywide referendum.

Atypical taxes
There are two proposals in the bill that the team finds onerous, and, frankly, if I were stadium czar, wouldn’t find worth fighting over.

The first is naming rights. Yes, the public will wind up paying, under this current bill, two-thirds of the stadium. And, yes, the public needs to be a player in assuring that the stadium isn’t named for repugnant products or companies.

But naming rights revenues going to the team — rather than a stadium authority — actually HELP the public. It is a guaranteed annual revenue stream to the team that allows it to go to a bank and borrow money to help it with its upfront investment. It is, naming rights expert E.J. Narcise told me, “a constant,” more than concession sales or ticket sales for a team’s revenue flow and for lenders to be comforted.

Potential sponsors want access to the team’s trademarks and logos, not to the stadium itself, said Narcise, who helped broker the Houston Reliant Stadium $300 million over a 30-year naming rights deal. While some stadium naming rights deals have been shared between a public authority and a team, that structure is uncommon. Also, naming rights to the team aid in gaining some financial backing from the NFL itself, which is important.

Rather than grab the naming rights revenues, why not simply up that “one-third” notion from the team to 50 percent? It provides more freedom for the team to market itself and its sponsors and, frankly, more policy clarity.

The other troublesome — but politically attractive — clause is to impose a 5 percent surcharge on player salaries. I have no problems with taxing the rich. But if the idea is to create legislation that builds a stadium to help the team be competitive and reduces the burden on the public, this clause won’t get you there.

What it will do is pass on costs to the team owner. Assume the Vikings want to sign a big-time free agent quarterback to help the team win, sell tickets, suites and marketing deals so they can pay their share of stadium costs. But that player needs to pay 5 percent more in state taxes. Let’s say it’s a $10 million deal; simply put, that’s $500,000 more in taxes. You think his agent might ask for 5 percent more from Zygi Wilf?

Solution: Once again, increase the upfront commitment from the team.

Remember, this legislation is not just about Minnesota; it’s also about the National Football League. Wilf will gain much support from his fellow owners to turn down a stadium deal here if he is burdened by taxes and revenue-usurping. As much as the state wants to beat up the team, it could produce fallout at NFL headquarters.

Market deal
What won’t shake up the other owners is what they call “a market deal.” That is, a comparable stadium deal that they’ve eaten themselves.

The Vikings have been talking off and on about paying one-third of an open-air stadium. Years ago, the number $250 million was floated. In the bill, the team is required to pay one dollar for each two of public money, or 33 percent.

But most NFL teams have paid more in recent years for stadiums, and it’s not what the Twins wound up paying for Target Field. Metro markets differ. Teams’ revenue potentials are different. Location politics are different. Owners’ net worth is different. We understand that.

Still, even according to Minnesota Momentum, a Vikings booster group, the Dallas Cowboys Stadium used 63 percent of private money; the new Giants and Jets stadium in New Jersey was 100 percent private, with the substantial infrastructure costs coming from public coffers; Lincoln Financial in Philadelphia used 64 percent of private money.

The Vikings have argued that the Cowboys, for instance, received $444 million in infrastructure costs. Let’s put that aside for now. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones invested $750 million of his own dough in his new palace. He’s not going to be too sympathetic if Wilf only has to put in $250 milliion.

The one stadium the Vikings often embrace is Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which received only 14 percent in private money, but that is an outlier for all new or refurbished NFL stadiums built since the year 2000. Even the Packers — not owned by a single rich person — put in 43 percent of the cost of renovating Lambeau Field.

As for the Twins, depending on how you analyze the Pohlad family’s contribution, it is at least 35 percent. The team paid for cost overruns and some additions it sought. According to the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, the Twins paid $195 million of a total project cost – including infrastructure – of $555 million, or 35 percent of the entire project. Plus, the Twins pay for all operational costs of Target Field. Under that “total project” model, a $1 billion Vikings facility should get at least $350 million from the owners.

That’s Minnesota’s market deal.

Where are the fans?
Another missing piece: any commitment from the fans and the business community. Stadium expert Tony Spadafora of Eden Prairie, a frequent commenter here at MinnPost, has a conceptual framework that includes the customers as being part of the stadium-funding solution.

Many teams have sold what’s known as “Personal Seat Licenses” to help finance their share of stadium construction or renovation. This is an upfront fee to retain or obtain a season ticket in a new stadium. In most instances, those PSLs are transferable and, depending on the success and popularity of the team, increase in value over time.

If the Vikings charged their 55,000 season ticket holders $2,000 each to keep their season tickets, that could generate $110 million. Even if customers could pay off that amount over five years, it wouldn’t be a burden to those who are core beneficiaries of a new stadium. This is a true user fee for those who actually use the stadium.

PSLs should be a part of this legislation. If the Vikings claim they can’t sell such a product in this market, we need to question that, the same way we need assurances that the team can sell its luxury seating inventory. Which leads to another missing part here: the so-called “business community.”

Where is the commitment in the bill from this important slice? New Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chairman Ted Mondale and longtime stadium backer Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, have challenged business leaders to come to the fore and back a stadium bill. Star Tribune business reporter Neal St. Anthony wrote last week that some CEOs have pledged $25,000 to help advocate for a stadium.

Twenty-five thousand dollars? Gimme a break.

A suite will cost at least four times that in a new Vikings stadium. Shouldn’t this legislation require the team to make some kind of showing that it can sell the inventory it is seeking? Shouldn’t the state’s “business community” — which has been generally opposed to tax increases — guarantee it will purchase those 100 or 125 suites and the 7,000 or more club seats the team needs to sell to make this a success?

Site selection
There’s no price and no location for this stadium. Two big missing pieces for any deal to be made.

Under the terms of this bill, a five-person Minnesota Stadium Authority appointed by Gov. Dayton will determine the site; one member from Hennepin County, one from Ramsey County and three from outside of those counties. Competing sites will submit proposals.

But there’s a big problem: The deadline is Feb. 15, 2012. That’s too far off. The Vikings lease ends after this coming season. Proposals from the already discussed sites are pretty well known: Arden Hills’ plan on the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site; the Metrodome location; and a site in Minneapolis near the Farmers’ Market and Target Field.

We’re hearing that supporters of a Dome site — either on the current footprint or just west near the Star Tribune building — are working on a significantly cheaper stadium plan. Great.

If that’s so, the site selection process need not drag out through next winter. The cheaper the plan, the better for the public and the team. The sooner we have a location, the more we can get down to the nitty-gritty of funding.

That’s why this bill should have an overall cost cap. Anywhere within striking distance of $1 billion for a football stadium in this political and economic environment would be obscene.

Other stuff
• Nowhere is there a nod to ticket affordability. The Twins deal had such a clause, however vague: “Any lease or use agreement must provide for affordable access to the professional sporting events held in the ballpark.” We know the team’s ticket prices soared, however. How about a clause that guarantees 10 percent of the tickets will cost no more than $25?

• There is talk of requiring the stadium to be environmentally and energy efficient, and hooray for that.

• Don’t see an urging of access to public transit. Should be in there.

• Don’t see any direction to the new Stadium Authority to begin thinking about a more global and ongoing solution to sports facilities in the state, including Xcel Energy Center and Target Center. The authority should be given that power.

• Don’t see any solution to what happens with the Metrodome, other than its land is sold. Rep. Bev. Scalze, DFL-Little Canada, and Rep. Sandra Peterson, New Hope, have introduced a bill (H.F. 1363) to form a Metrodome Task Force to examine what to do with that 30-year-old building. Good idea. It should be incorporated into the larger Vikings bill and handled by the new Authority.

• The bill would allow this new Stadium Authority to inspect “audited financial statements of the team” annually. Love the idea. All teams that get public funding for their stadiums should have to do that. But the NFL won’t even show its books to its players during the ongoing lockout. When the Vikings sold naming rights and made it “Mall of America Field,” the team wouldn’t share that with the Sports Facilities Commission.

The chances of the Vikings and NFL agreeing to opening their books – even confidentially – to the new stadium board is somewhere below zero. But asking never hurts.

• One other thing: Have we heard from Zygi Wilf or Marc Wilf that they really want to be here? (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that, but that was a few months back.) Have we heard that all the controversy and wheeling and dealing soon to unfold will be worth it? Have they disclosed to anyone any “secret” deals or agreements they may have with any potential buyers in Los Angeles or elsewhere? Let’s get them on the record.

Sen. Julie Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning, the lead stadium lawmakers, should be applauded for trying. Kudos for bravery. In a statement, they said last week, “We are ready to get the stadium conversation started.”

That’s all that SF 1164 is. A start, but not a serious one.

MinnPost’s Jay Weiner has covered sports facilities issues in the Twin Cities since 1993 and the demise of Met Center and public buyout of Target Center. He is the author of “Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles,” University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

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Comments (43)

  1. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 04/11/2011 - 10:30 am.

    • Another possible funding source included in the bill is a new Vikings-themed Minnesota Lottery game.

    Sure, why not?

    Why not? Because this is nothing more than stealing from the environment, which is what the lottery was originally intended to benefit. Every special Vikings lottery ticket whose proceeds go to prop up a stadium is money that would have been spent on lottery tickets that support environmental programs rather than billionaire sports team owners.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/11/2011 - 11:07 am.

    Another component to affordability of the tickets is TV. I don’t any significant public funding should be considered without a guarantee that the games will be viewable on free TV. This business of taking public money but then making it impossible for people without cable to watch the games is whacked.

    I don’t think the team should any less than 90% of the total cost of the stadium. If they can’t do that then let em go.

  3. Submitted by Bob Quarrels on 04/11/2011 - 11:25 am.

    Thanks for a good hard look at this, Jay. One question: why does a Vikings stadium need mass transit? They play only eight times a year, only once or twice on a weekday. And a gripe: Hennepin County gave the Twins a maddeningly sweet deal. A Vikings deal needs to be better.

  4. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 04/11/2011 - 11:37 am.

    I agree, a stadium bill within striking distance of 1 billion would be obscene.

    You know what else would be obscene? A situation where a state refuses to raise taxes for:
    -schools
    -nursing homes
    -healthcare for low-income Minnesotans
    -transit

    If supporting a thriving private industry is the only thing worthy of a tax increase, we need to do some serious soul searching.

    I used to think the public could chip in a fraction of the total cost, using various user-fees, taxes on businesses that benefit, merchandise taxes, etc. But when we can’t/won’t raise taxes for legitimate government concerns, my willingness to help millionaires shrivels to nothing. Pack up the team, send them to whichever city/state will sell out their citizens, and those that want to watch them can pay to get the game on satellite. God this is sickening…

  5. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/11/2011 - 11:54 am.

    Great piece, Jay… but you could have gone a little deeper into the naming-rights thing.

    A naming-rights deal without the full support of the Vikings would be worth less. Let’s say $1 million less per year, but it would probably be much more.

    The $1 million lost over the life of a 30-year lease would have a present value of about $16 million. I know the bill calls for a 40-year lease, but that a pipe-dream. Nowadays, stadiums are obsolete after about 25 years. The Vikings got major rent concessions 20 years into their current 30 lease.

    So we’re out $16 million that could have gone into stadium funding, but that’s not all. If the Vikings used the contractual revenue stream from naming-rights to support a $100 million stadium load, the NFL’s stadium funding plan would give them $34 million. The loan would be repaid with 34% of “Club” seat revenues which is the visiting team’s portion. It’s money Zygi would not see anyway.

    Do the math… by giving the state the naming-rights revenues is the same as taking $50 million in cash and burning it. Poof… $50 million up in thin air. I’ve seen guys light cigars with $50 dollar bills, but burning $50 million is preposterous. The authors of this bill know precious little about stadium funding.

    You’d think Zygi would be screaming bloody murder over that.

  6. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/11/2011 - 12:04 pm.

    And concerning Governor Dayton’s “people’s stadium,” I propose 10% of seats cannot be sold as licensed seats, season tickets, or Vikings friends & family seats. This would give the general public, who’s going to pay their share for the new stadium, access to 6,500 seats per game or 65,000 seats per season (including pre-season games).

    There’s no doubt the Vikings could sell every seat as a season ticket seat during the first 5 years…

    I also have no doubt the Vikings can sell seat licenses. Even the Twins sold $5 million worth and that’s a rarity in MLB.

    Seat licenses are an “asset” owned by their buyers and they have the potential to go up in value. I also consider seat licenses “community ownership” of the stadium by those who get a much greater benefit from the stadium than the general public.

  7. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/11/2011 - 12:20 pm.

    additional sources of revenue for the stadium could include:

    1. A 10% surcharge on all panhandlers and possibly a panhandler corner licensing fee. Panhandler revenues will go up with all those rich executives coming to the game and they should pay their fair share.

    2. A Property tax hike on all half-way houses and old folks homes in Hennepin county since their land will be worth more with this palace nearby.

    3. It is well know that the developmentally disabled love the Vikings. Anecdotally, I see them all the time at my Y with their jerseys on. Because we don’t want to drive the smart people out of the state because they are the “job creators”, then I suggest a fee based inversely on IQ. IQ tests could be tied in with the voter id plan.

    4. Put gates under all the freeway overpasses in town and start charging the homeless to stay there. Being a compassionate society we could offer them vouchers to help defray costs.

    5. Make Wayzata, Kenwood and gated communities with no property tax. This would keep the “job creators” instate, increasing jobs and raising taxes.

    6. Make it illegal to treat people for gambling addictions of any kind. The science is mushy on that whole idea anyway and government should stay out of citizens’ ways. Let people make their own choices.

    Just a few ideas to help the team. Go Vikes!

  8. Submitted by Jim Camery on 04/11/2011 - 12:26 pm.

    Don’t see how the lottery thing can fly. Adding a new game probably just shifts purchasing around from game to game instead of adding to the total purchase. It won’t be new money.

    And its got constitutional issues: Article XI, Sect 14 of Constitution says “Not less than 40 percent of the net proceeds from any state-operated lottery must be credited to the fund until the year 2025”.

    So 40% of lottery is off limits, and dedicating a chunk of the remainder is the same as cutting the existing revenue that other programs were getting from the lottery. That’s not going to be popular.

  9. Submitted by Mark Snyder on 04/11/2011 - 12:31 pm.

    Mass transit is needed for a Vikings stadium for two reasons:

    1. Because those 8 (actually 10 if you count preseason) games per year would require a LOT of parking availability if you don’t have good access to mass transit. Huge waste of space.

    2. Because there will be many other events that take place at this stadium each year besides Vikings games, especially if sanity prevails and it gets a roof.

  10. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/11/2011 - 02:36 pm.

    Mark, if sanity prevailed there would be no new stadium, roof or no roof.

  11. Submitted by Timothy Jensen on 04/11/2011 - 02:36 pm.

    Nice article, but I’m not swayed from the “just say no” camp. I bring economic benefit to the state, and I’m certain they won’t pay for two thirds of my expansion, were I to plan one. You say I don’t bring in what an NFL team does, and that’s correct, but I would only ask for about 30k. Let them build what their business requires or go elsewhere, like I’ll have to do.

  12. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 04/11/2011 - 02:43 pm.

    An almost new, attractive, perfectly good football stadium stands just a mile or less northeast of the Metrodome. Let the Wilf company rent it for its Vikings performances. Lord knows, the U could use the income.

    If that near-new football stadium is deemed inadequate because it lacks big-bucks viewing suites, let the Wilfs add them; the cost may be substantial, but certainly nothing remotely near the cost of yet another new football field to stand unused all but 18 or 20 days a year.

    The Gophers play on Saturday, the Vikings on Sunday and the occasional Monday, so there’d be no conflict.

    Not only would the U gain revenue from renting the stadium, it would make a fortune in parking fees.

    Problem solved. And taxpayers wouldn’t be out a dime.

  13. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/11/2011 - 04:25 pm.

    I think the Vikings should be give two location choices: the current Dome site or the current Dome site.

    The public (we taxpayers) have already provided transit infrastructure by car (freeways, streets, bridges), bus and light rail. Why should we start from scratch someplace new?

    Financing: Also two choices: 100% private or 100% percent private funding.

  14. Submitted by Shannon Drury on 04/11/2011 - 04:56 pm.

    I honestly cannot believe that this bill EXISTS, let alone is being seriously considered in this economic climate.

  15. Submitted by Steven Bailey on 04/11/2011 - 05:21 pm.

    One of the top reasons for new stadiums is luxury boxes. The luxury boxes and season ticket sales are very closely associated to the way a team is capitalized and valued for resale, benefiting the owners. This is the real sucker punch of large portion public financing. Public money is used to build a new stadium with additional luxury box seating. Most changes in new stadiums do not improve conditions for non-box customers. The improved and additional luxury boxes are leased by what the average fan can call “people I will never know”. Without dragging on this creates the situation where public tax dollars are used to build corporate and business luxury boxes which, the cost of , will be deducted and will reduce their income taxes paid to the State.

  16. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 04/11/2011 - 06:14 pm.

    Only in sports can a business owner go to the taxpayers with hat in hand asking for public funds while refusing to open financial records for scrutiny. Unfortunately, in our nation sports have become the opiate of the masses.

  17. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/11/2011 - 09:06 pm.

    Shannon… There’s no good time for a bad stadium deal and no bad time for a good stadium deal. If all parties come out ahead, which happens with a good deal, why not pass the bill during bad times if it can help to make things better for all concerned?

    Wouldn’t this be a good time for the 800 full time construction jobs for 3 years that would be involved in building a new stadium for instance?

  18. Submitted by John Ferman on 04/11/2011 - 11:42 pm.

    How would taxing player salaries work. Only on the players that actually play in the 8 local games or on their entire salaries. Consider a player who makes his home in some other state, and plays here for 8 games; so taxing his salary is taxing salary earned in another state. How does Minnesota tax other entertainers who travel here for a show or two and leave for somewhere else. A player who lives in Minnesota might just be encouraged by taxes to move to somewhere else.

  19. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/12/2011 - 07:25 am.

    John, players pay income tax on their player salaries in the state they earned the income. Other income is taxed in their state of principle residence.

    Last year the Vikings tax withholding for the state of MN was about $12M. Visiting team players paid between $600,000 and $1M in MN income tax.

    It is NOT 1/16 a player’s salary per game. The visiting teams’ income in each state is a matter of income earned during a few days compared to the total number of days worked. Clear as mud, right?

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 08:36 am.

    //There’s no good time for a bad stadium deal and no bad time for a good stadium deal. If all parties come out ahead, which happens with a good deal,

    Sports people are good with cliche statements, the thing is it a really bad idea to make public policy based on cliches.

    //If all parties come out ahead, which happens with a good deal, why not pass the bill during bad times if it can help to make things better for all concerned?

    There’s the rub, the fact is that the only people that really come out ahead with public financed stadiums are the owners and players. The owner see the value of their teams increased as well as the revenue, and the players salaries get a hike. I live in Henn Co. I own a business, I pay and collect the taxes that pay for the Twins stadium. Like the majority of the other 1.5 million people in Hennepin Country I am no further “ahead” in any conceivable way now than I was before the stadium was built. Rather I can argue that in fact I’m behind because my state and county are now collecting $20 million dollars a year that cannot be tapped to pay for anything other than a stadium. Now you want to up the ante to at least $50 million a year or more.

    //Wouldn’t this be a good time for the 800 full time construction jobs for 3 years that would be involved in building a new stadium for instance?

    The problem is stadiums deliver the least economic bang for the buck of almost any project imaginable. It’s a bad idea to dump a billion dollars into 800 temp jobs when you could create far more jobs and economic impact by putting that money into actual public infrastructure. Once built 90% of all the economic benefit of a stadium would go to the billionaire owner and his millionaire players, a total of what? 150 people? The extended effects are very local, and very minimal. In fact one could say that the networks broadcasting the games actually make more money of the Vikngs than do local business owners. If the public expenditure on this is $600 million, that’s $750 thousand dollars per job. By contrast we could build two new light rail lines that would service tens of thousands of people, promote region-wide commerce, and save millions in gas expenditures.

    Take for just one example the the recent economic stimulus packages effects in MN. In addition to providing health and unemployment benefits to thousands of Minnesotans, $1.8 billion directly created or retained 3,700 jobs outright, (that’s 125 jobs more per dollar than the stadium) and generated an extended indirect economic benefit for 60,000 more Minnesotan’s.

    So while it may not be a “bad” idea to create 800 temp jobs and improve a teams revenue, it’s a way way way better idea to create more jobs and deliver the most bang for the buck we can for our public dollars- instead of the least bang for the buck for smallest number of people.

  21. Submitted by Dale Hoogeveen on 04/12/2011 - 09:11 am.

    To me the big catch has always been that there are local referendums laws already in place to deal with additional levies. I see no more reason to vacate them for a professional sports team than for a local school district, in fact far less reason. The proposals I have seen so far are all in the gray area around this topic.

    Clear that up first. Unfortunately for the new dome proposals that sort of public response is not a good thing for any of those proposals. There is a very good reason they do not tend to pass, and that is most of us will not use the facility they build, and a whole lot of us are tired of having yet another surcharge placed on everything we buy pretty much without any local chance to pass on it. Just another case of the state government passing on forced tax costs down the ladder.

    When we have so many underfed, underhoused and homeless hungry around us why continue to subsidize the wealthy in hopes that they will toss out a few scraps to where it is far more desperately needed!

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 09:25 am.

    //To me the big catch has always been that there are local referendums laws already in place to deal with additional levies. I see no more reason to vacate them for a professional sports team than for a local school district, in fact far less reason.

    You have to vacate the referendums in order to build these stadiums without public consent. Why? Because despite all flowery language and cliches about community identity, spirit, and onwership- the fact is these are NOT public assets or infrastructure. That’s why we decided to mandate referendums for stadiums and not bridges.

  23. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/12/2011 - 09:56 am.

    Anyone who would say there are no financial benefits to the state or “host” community just doesn’t know or understand the facts.

    Does anyone here realize that over 80% of the Vikings revenues come from national NFL revenues?

    For the 2009 season (the latest available numbers), The Vikings total revenues according to Forbes were $221 million.

    The Vikings got $157 million from the NFL from the national TV contracts and sponsorships. The Vikings also got $18 million in revenue-sharing from the NFL.

    Do the math… $157 million + $18 million = $175 million in national revenues and the remaining $46 million in local revenues which includes revenues from about 22% of the out-of-state Vikings season ticket holders.

    The NFL money would follow the Vikings if they relocate.

    That’s the state’s benefit… the taxes the NFL money generates… primarily our players’ state income tax.

    The “host” community’s benefits are local but substantial. #1 public funds (the money from the state), #2 commercial activity (money spent at or near the stadium on game days), $3 jobs (from the development around the stadium, NOT the stadium jobs… that’s a wash with the Metrodome’s jobs). #4 local tax revenues (did you see the extra local taxes Target Field is generating?).

    Yes, we can absolutely design a stadium deal that’s good for the Vikings, businesses, sports fans, and the general public.

  24. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 10:41 am.

    //Anyone who would say there are no financial benefits to the state or “host” community just doesn’t know or understand the facts.

    Try arguing with real people instead of imaginary morons Tony. No one’s saying there are “no” financial benefits. We’re simply pointing that the financial benefits of stadiums are minimal and narrowly distributed compared with public expenditures, this is a fact. Stadiums move money from side of town to the other, they don’t generate additional economic activity. As entertainment dollars money spent on sports simply gets spent elsewhere, it doesn’t disappear. Minnesotan’s will do something else if the Vikings aren’t around, they won’t just curl up and die in their living rooms in front of the big screen TVs.

    Players income tax? Sure let’s spend $30 million year in order to collect $10 million a year.

    Better yet, let’s spend $2 million a year (have 90% of the stadium privately financed)and still collect the $10 million, ya know those guys gotta pay the taxes anyways.

    I don’t really care where the Vikings get their revenue, that’s not my problem or concerns as a citizen or taxpayer, it’s their business.

  25. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 10:48 am.

    As far as math is concerned, I can see that if the Wilf is making $175 million a year, he can spend $30 million a year on his own stadium. and still have $150 million to kick around with.

  26. Submitted by Ross Williams on 04/12/2011 - 12:12 pm.

    Lets be clear, professional football stadiums are glorified TV studios with swanky digs for the wealthy studio audience. They will play 8 games a year in it with less than a half million attendance total. That is a sixth of the live audience for the Twins games.

    No matter what the source of funds, lottery, sales tax, etc it will come at the expense of other public services those same funds could have paid for.

    If you can get the money from the cable TV subscribers and advertisers, then go for it. Otherwise, its time to let the Vikings to follow the path of the Lakers. We can watch the Los Angeles Vikings on TV just as easily and let the folks in LA pay for the fancy studio.

  27. Submitted by David DeCoux on 04/12/2011 - 12:14 pm.

    Why don’t we just have the public pay 100% of the new cost, control naming rights, and demand the money be paid back at 3% interest when the team is sold?

    Matter of fact, I’m open to almost any idea where the money gets paid back when the team is sold.

    Why is that idea never on the table?

  28. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 01:32 pm.

    //Why don’t we just have the public pay 100% of the new cost, control naming rights, and demand the money be paid back at 3% interest when the team is sold?

    Because football franchises are not public assets. It’s not the taxpayers or governments job to provide professional sports. This scheme puts the taxpayers on the hook for a billion dollars if the team doesn’t move, and for another billion dollars in twenty years when the team wants a new stadium. What if the teams simply declares bankruptcy instead of selling to someone else?

    Turning sports into public liabilities is not sound public policy.

  29. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 01:42 pm.

    By the way let’s get real about the actual costs here. The Twins stadium is actually costing taxpayers $600 million dollars because we’re paying interest on the bonds. That almost doubles the cost over the 30 year term of the bonds. So if you’re looking at a similar deal with $600 million up front for the Vikings your really looking at $1.2 billion dollars worth of tax subsidies. Over two billion total for two stadiums, and before they’re paid off… they’re gonna want two more new ones.

  30. Submitted by David DeCoux on 04/12/2011 - 02:39 pm.

    “Because football franchises are not public assets”

    I think it’s been established that all business are public assets. Also if the money is returned, with even a small percentage of interest, then I’m pretty sure it would fall into the public asset category.

    When was the last time an NFL team declared bankruptcy?

    I was downtown for the Twins game on Saturday and I assure you that many downtown businesses were benefitting from the new stadium and all of the revenue from player saleries to monies spent at the local businesses was taxable.

    I can understand if you’re anti stadium, I am in many ways, but simply denying the benefits because of a personal agenda doesn’t hold much water.

  31. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 03:46 pm.

    //I can understand if you’re anti stadium, I am in many ways, but simply denying the benefits because of a personal agenda doesn’t hold much water.

    Again, no one is denying that are some benefits, the benefits just don’t justify the cost. Stadiums don’t create economic activity, they move dollars from one side of town to the other. While your marveling at the downtown businesses realize that that business is there at public expense, and it’s there to detriment of other businesses. So you’re at Kieran’s instead of Brit’s pub- that’s not a net increase in business activity, it’s simply moved from one side of downtown to the other. All that money being spent on Twins games doesn’t just go poof if the Twins aren’t there. People still spend it. They’ll spend it on movies, bowling, golf, bikes, whatever. And if they aren’t spending it on the Twins the money is actually being distributed more broadly throughout the economy so an argument can be made that more people benefit more broadly without the twins than with them- we still get the spending but without the $600 million dollar stadium debt.

    By the way, it has most certainly not been established that private businesses are public assets. Although when public subsidies outweigh the return they can be public liabilities, think superfund sites for just one example. Want more examples? Think of the real estate brokers, and contractors who’ve dumped thousands of vacant and undervalued properties on cities and town all over the country. We have system that privatizes the profits and make risks public, that’s not the same as turning everything into a public asset.

    As for when the last time a team declared bankruptcy, when was the last time the public built a stadium and an owner faced a billion dollar penalty for selling a team? You can change the rules if you want, but then you change the rules and history is no longer relevant. Face with a billion dollar penalty I have no doubt owners would get very creative rather than pay up.

  32. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/12/2011 - 06:55 pm.

    You all may be thinking public stadium handouts, subsidies, or contributions… I’m thinking strategic investments.

    Just because there have been “sweetheart” stadium deals in the past, doesn’t mean there needs to be another one in MN.

    There are plenty of ways and NFL incentives to maximize stadium funding from private sources.

    Stop assuming the worst and start building a new stadium funding paradigm that’s good for the team, businesses, sports fans, and the general public.

  33. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2011 - 11:01 pm.

    //Just because there have been “sweetheart” stadium deals in the past, doesn’t mean there needs to be another one in MN.

    But if a “sweetheart” deal is all the team will sign off on… then we gotta do it anyways because if we don’t WE’LL LOSE THE TEAM!

    Strategic for who? Want to know what MN looks like without the Vikings? Look around, it looks exactly like today, and the other 352 or so days a year when the Vikings don’t play.

    The reason we’re thinking this is a welfare program for a billionaire is because that’s exactly what it is.

    10% public funding, 90% private financing. That’s a strategic deal. You may say the Vikings won’t accept it, but then I don’t work for the Vikings and I’m willing say goodbye rather than subsidize their game. And according to every survey the majority of Minnesotan’s agree with me.

  34. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/13/2011 - 10:56 am.

    WRONG!! We only need a deal that will satisfy the wants, needs, feeling, and expectations of nine NFL owners. It take 75% of the team owners to approve a team’s relocation.

    The majority of Minnesotans love the Vikings and would hate to lose them. They’re also operating under the same set of paradigms Paul is.

    I believe the public funding question poll responses are based on citizen-taxpayer-voters not trusting politicians to negotiate a good deal and make strategic investments.

  35. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/13/2011 - 11:12 am.

    //WRONG!! We only need a deal that will satisfy the wants, needs, feeling, and expectations of nine NFL owners. It take 75% of the team owners to approve a team’s relocation.

    Yes Tony, WE NEED to satisfy the NFL owners, I mean what else is government for?

  36. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/13/2011 - 01:52 pm.

    Funding should be based on benefit… whoever thinks state and local governments don’t benefit by having an NFL team playing in MN could not be more WRONG!!

    But you’ve got spunk, Paul.

    I hate spunk.

  37. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/13/2011 - 02:09 pm.

    //Funding should be based on benefit… whoever thinks state and local governments don’t benefit by having an NFL team playing in MN could not be more WRONG!!

    Since your fond of repeating yourself I’ll play along:

    “Again, no one is denying that are some benefits, the benefits just don’t justify the cost. Stadiums don’t create economic activity, they move dollars from one side of town to the other. ” #31

    And I’ll add, anyone who claims there are no benefits to letting the team go, or making them build their own stadium, could not be more wrong.

  38. Submitted by Sam Woods on 04/14/2011 - 08:56 am.

    I have to 100% agree with Paul on everything he’s saying, and this is coming from a die hard Vikings fan. The economic benefits are not great enough for all the public subsidy that is being asked for. About 80% or more of the jobs that they say will be created are temporary in nature so if they are talking 10,000 jobs being created directly then maybe 1,000 jobs are not going to be tempoary. Of those 1,000 jobs many of them are just going to be transfer jobs from what they do now. So maybe 200 new permenant jobs are created and how many of those are actual liveable wage jobs? In order for a stadium to be even some what economically viable, a good majority of fans would have to be fans from outstate/out of state and I highly doubt that will happen. In fact there have been studies shown that new stadiums can actually cause a negative economic impact to a region. Sports teams and facilities that they have do have a huge social impact. Our state and Twin Cities region would benefit more if they would provide more loans to existing businesses that are growing and will provide good jobs and try to attract new businesses by improving our infrastructure than by providing subsidizes to the Vikings. Also if the Vikings move to LA watch them move in 10 years or less as they lose even more money: they had 2 NFL teams and both moved out.

  39. Submitted by Dan Hinton on 04/15/2011 - 04:35 pm.

    Obscene! Great word to describe any attempt to force taxpayers, without a referendum, to subsidize the NFL while we cut so many important programs for all Minnesotans.

    I just drove some streets in south Mpls. this week. Apparently we can’t afford to fix the hundreds of thousands of pot holes yet we can subsidize a billionaire. Obscene!

  40. Submitted by Dan Hinton on 04/16/2011 - 07:45 am.

    School Districts are required to hold a referendum before building a stadium. What is good for the goose is good for the gander!

  41. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/16/2011 - 09:19 am.

    I screwed up in #25. Actually The Vikings revenue is $221 million, not $175 million. That mean they could spend $30 million a year on their own stadium and still have $190 a year to kick around with. And the new stadium would actually increase their revenue so it wold be even more. And don’t forget, Ziggy’s a billionaire, the Vikings aren’t his only source of capital.

  42. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 04/16/2011 - 05:35 pm.

    #1 Zygi is NOT a billionaire. His net worth is $310 million.

    #2 Who here knows that 80% of the $221 million in team revenues Paul talked about comes from the NFL and are national revenues NOT Minnesota disposable income generated. It’s also money that would follow the team if they relocate.

    #3 It’s more about keeping the jobs that already exist than the new jobs a stadium will create and the money that would escape the state if we lost NFL football here.

    #4 It’s not 8000 construction jobs, it’s about 800 full time construction jobs lasting 3 years.

  43. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/18/2011 - 09:25 am.

    Tony,

    Where to you get that $300 million figure? Even if he only owns 30% of the Vikings (and he probably owns 50%+1) that would give him a net worth of between $230 and $390 million just with the Vikings. Although real estate has taken a hit over the last couple of years he runs a family business that’s been one of the largest real estate companies in the countries since 1955. Those ventures alone have been worth billions of dollars. And Wilf himself has declined to discuss his actual net worth.

    But you know what? At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what Wilfs net worth is because if he can’t afford a professional football team, he shouldn’t have bought one.

    //#2 Who here knows that 80% of the $221 million in team revenues Paul talked about comes from the NFL and are national revenues NOT Minnesota disposable income generated. It’s also money that would follow the team if they relocate.

    I know, you already said this once. What’s your point? Revenue is revenue. You do realize that there is no law of finance or economy or anything else that requires that only MN money earned in MN be spent on a stadium in MN? When Ford built the plant in St. Paul they didn’t get the money from MN you know- that’s the great thing about money- it’s very very portable.

    Now I should warn you that if you continue down this line of reasoning- as spurious as it may be; you are only making an argument that the pro-sports business model is a failure because despite $14 billion dollars in annual revenue they can’t afford to build their own stadiums. You can argue that Pro-sports are so financially broke that they actually cannot function without taxpayers subsidies if you want. I doubt that many people will buy that argument given all the multi-million dollar players contracts however.

    It’s about keeping the jobs? Again, the cost isn’t worth it. How many jobs are directly related to the Twins for instance? 200? We’re paying $600 million dollars ($20 million a year for 30 years)for those 200 jobs- that’s $3 million dollars per job. Now just to put that in perspective, consider the fact that if that $3 million were distributed evenly, that would be $100,000 a year per job. Aside from the players, how many of these jobs are paying $100,000? does Wally the Beer Man make $100,000 a year? Do the security personnel make $100,000 a year? Of course not. This is why say that 90% of the financial benefit goes to the players and owners, because that’s where it in fact goes. If you want to save jobs we’d be better off just giving a million dollars to 600 hundred people. Dump 600 new millionaires into the local economy and you’d some real economic impact.

    As for the 800 jobs I can only repeats myself:

    #20

    “The problem is stadiums deliver the least economic bang for the buck of almost any project imaginable. It’s a bad idea to dump a billion dollars into 800 temp jobs when you could create far more jobs and economic impact by putting that money into actual public infrastructure. Once built 90% of all the economic benefit of a stadium would go to the billionaire owner and his millionaire players, a total of what? 150 people? The extended effects are very local, and very minimal. In fact one could say that the networks broadcasting the games actually make more money of the Vikngs than do local business owners. If the public expenditure on this is $600 million, that’s $750 thousand dollars per job. By contrast we could build two new light rail lines that would service tens of thousands of people, promote region-wide commerce, and save millions in gas expenditures.

    Take for just one example the the recent economic stimulus packages effects in MN. In addition to providing health and unemployment benefits to thousands of Minnesotans, $1.8 billion directly created or retained 3,700 jobs outright, (that’s 125 jobs more per dollar than the stadium) and generated an extended indirect economic benefit for 60,000 more Minnesotan’s. ”

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