Welcome to Part III of my epic response to Skol Girl’s epic justification of public welfare designed to increase the profitability of the Vikings franchise. Public welfare that we are being threatened into giving Zygi Wilf. As he’d have us believe, if we don’t give him $600 million we don’t have, he’s going to pack up his team and leave. Of course, if we give him $600 million so he can build 21,000 parking spaces in Arden Hills, we’ll take a net loss.
Now, back to Skol Girl:
Perception: For the state of Minnesota to take money from schools and roads, during a recession no less, to pay for a stadium is absolutely irresponsible.
Reality: I agree, it would be absolutely irresponsible if state legislators took money from Minnesota’s general fund to pay for a Vikings stadium at the expense of children’s educations and safe roads. However, the state’s $300 million contribution to a new Vikings stadium would not come from the general fund. In fact, the state’s $300 million contribution would come from tax revenue from stadium suites, taxes on the sale of pro sports memorabilia, and Vikings lottery taxes.
All revenue sources that could be used to contribute to the . . . wait for it . . . general fund. For example, current MN State Lottery procedes go here:
Currently, the state General Fund receives 60 percent of proceeds. The remaining 40 percent of proceeds goes to the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. In addition, the first 6.5 percent of Lottery sales (in-lieu-of-sales tax) is directed to the Game and Fish Fund, Natural Resources Fund and General Fund.
See the issue, Skol Girl? Another way to pay for the stadium would be to do so through increased ticket prices. Wouldn’t that make more sense? $42/ticket on 60,000 tickets for 8 games/season for 30 years would do it. Or, is it unfair to charge such an exorbitant user fee to people who actually attend the games?
And, the state wants to use funds from its $300 million stadium contribution to fix the roads near the proposed site in Arden Hills (estimated $130 million cost). This creative financing approach to road maintenance looks hinky because, according to Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, funds were promised to fix those roads ten years ago. Using money out of the state’s proposed stadium contribution to fix roads that already had money promised for them out of the state’s transportation fund seems decidedly shady.
Hinky? Have the roads been fixed or not? Do you really believe that the state is sitting on a pile of excess road construction dollars?
Perception: It is ridiculous to pay nearly a $1 billion for the Vikings to play 10 to 12 games a year in a new football stadium.
Reality: Again, it would be absolutely ridiculous to spend $1 billion on a facility used 10 to 12 times a year. But, not to worry, Governor Mark Dayton was adamant that a new football stadium would be a “people’s stadium”, something that sounds an awful lot like the Metrodome.
Sometimes referred to as Minnesota’s rec center, the Dome hosts activities 300 days a year, only 10 to 12 of which are Vikings games. During the other, 290-288 days a year the Dome is home to high school sports, amateur athletics, skating around the upper concourse, annual conventions, celebrations and a host of other things that have nothing to do with the Vikings.
None of which require a new stadium far away from downtown Minneapolis’ many hotels, quality transit, and restaurant options. The not so powerful or organized inline skate lobby doesn’t seem to be lobbying for a move to Arden Hills. If they are, their PR is even worse than the Vikings’.
Currently the Metrodome costs an average of $10-11 million a year to run. The Vikings pay around $6 million a year for the Dome’s upkeep. So, even though the Vikings use the Dome only 4% of the time, they pay more than 50% of the building’s operating costs.
Those darn inline skaters, putting their wear and tear on a concrete concourse with their rubber wheels. Never actually entering the field, seats. No concessions. No use of sky boxes. Never touching the press boxes. No scoreboards. Why do they get away with such a small contribution to the cost of running the facility?
It is interesting to note that the cost for the Vikings to stay in the Dome is significantly less than what it would cost them to build a new stadium. And, it’s way way significantly less than the welfare Zygi Wilf is asking for.
A new “people’s stadium”, would likely host many of the activities that the Metrodome now hosts.
The same events. Only much further from transit, hotels, and restaurants.
Operating costs are projected to run from $14-18 million a year with the Vikings picking up 90% of the operating costs. So, to be clear, if the Vikings get a new stadium built in Ramsey County, the team would still use the facility 10-12 times a year. If the stadium follows Governor Dayton’s plan and hosts the same amount of events as the Metrodome, it will be used 290-288 times apart from football. But the Vikings would pay 90% of the new stadium’s operating costs rather than 50% of the Dome’s operating costs. Under those terms, the state could end up paying less money in annual operating costs for a new stadium than it’s currently paying for a 30-year-old wreck.
Considering where the average visitor to the Dome vs. the proposed Arden Hills site live, it seems likely that we’d end up paying many millions more in gas to get there compared to the Dome, which offsets any benefits we’d have from Zygi picking up a an extra $2-3 million/year toward operation costs of a facility he wants (but doesn’t need).