Considering the Transportation Costs of an Arden Hills Vikings Stadium

Statistically, Zygi Wilf’s stadium proposal will lead to the death of at least one person. That’s just one of the costs of relocating the Vikings to a stadium they don’t need in Arden Hills.

I mentioned yesterday that it would be stupid to build a stadium in a location that’s far removed from major transit lines, highways, or the center of our metropolitan area’s population center. It’s even stupider to think that Wilf wants the public to subsidize such a dumb decision to the tune of $600,000,000 plus interest over three decades.

Here’s another reason why this may not be a good idea: the transportation costs.

Here are some assumptions:

– The stadium plan calls for 21,000 parking places, so let’s assume that the Vikings know enough about people per car averages to have a decent guess how many spots it takes to accomodate fans that drive.

– The stadium isn’t on transit, so a larger percentage of game attendees will have to drive, including low-paid employees who used to be able to take the bus, LRT, bike, or walk (I often biked in my days working at the dome so parking wouldn’t consume my take home pay).

– The stadium will be 10 miles further away from the majority of fans’ homes, and most out of town fans’ hotels. It’s obviously closer for people living north of Arden Hills, a wash for those between Arden Hills and Minneapolis, and a net loss for everyone south or west of downtown Minneapolis.

– I’m going to assume that 80% of fans will be a 10 mile further drive from the Arden Hills site, combined with the shift of transit reliant hotel guests being forced to shift to driving.

So, 80% of 21,000 is: 16,800 cars driving an extra ten miles each way to attend Vikings games in Arden Hills rather than downtown Minneapolis.

What’s the cost of that increased traffic?

– 16,800 cars driving 20 miles is 336,000 road miles.
– 10 games a season bumps that up to 3,360,000 miles/year of additional wear and tear on the metro’s roads. (pre-season games may not sell out, but we do manage to host an occasional playoff game)
– Over 28 years, the Arden Hills stadium site would generate 94,080,000 miles of additional driving.

Based on the current IRS mileage reimbursement rate of 55.5 cents per mile, the transportation tax imposed by the Vikings franchise upon their fans would come to at least $52,214,400. For that figure to be accurate, we’d have to assume that the reimbursement rate would not increase by a penny over the next 30 years. In reality, it’s increase by nearly 50% in just the past 7 years. What do you think: are gas prices going up or down over the next 30 years?

Someone Will Die

94 million miles is one heck of a lot of driving. In fact, it’s so much driving that, statistically, someone will die on our roads simply because the stadium was moved 10 miles away from it’s current centrally located, transit friendly location to a more driving dependent one.

Our roads have gotten safer over time, but we still experience 1.13 fatalities per 100,000,000 road miles driven. That comes to 1.06 deaths due to the stadium location.

Now, that 1.06 deaths figure assumes that the average Arden Hills Vikings stadium visitor is an average driver. But, is that the case? I think we can assume that they will be driving in worse driving conditions than the national average (snow, ice, darkness). And, there is a darn good chance that the average mile driven by a Vikings fan will be a more intoxicated mile driven than the average national road mile driven.

Taking those factors into consideration, how many more people will die simply due to the location choice for a new stadium?

When you force 16,800 drivers of questionable sobriety to spend an extra 20 miles per game on the road, you’re fighting statistics. The easiest way to keep drivers safe is to help them drive fewer miles.

Should the public spend hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing a private business owner’s plan to increase the road miles driven by intoxicated drivers? Nope.

7 thoughts on “Considering the Transportation Costs of an Arden Hills Vikings Stadium”

  1. LOL! Man are you a nut job. I used to enjoy you’re writing, but you’ve become obsessed with this topic to the point of complete insanity. Please, get some help Ed.

  2. I’m enjoying the stadium posts and it’s convinced me to not support a stadium with public money, but you open yourself to valid criticism and weaken your point when you assume that Vikings fans drink and drive more than the average driver. You would ask someone else to justify that with a link and it’s a reasonable request here as well.

    It’s not even a point that you need to strengthen: one person dying statistically is enough.

  3. @ben, good point. To be clear, the comparison I was making an assumption about was the sobriety of the average driver leaving a Vikings game vs. the average mile driven during all hours of the day and all days of the week. My assumption here is that most miles are driven by people to/from work, who, I assume, are more sober on average than Vikings fans.

    It’s worth noting that the NFL has partnered with M.A.D.D. to work on the issue, and stadiums do have rules related to servings per order and a serving cut-off date. That said, one of the talking points from Vikings fans in favor of the Arden Hills location is increased tailgating opportunities, which (I assume) would lead to an increase in non-professionally served alcoholic beverage pre and/or post game.

  4. @ben, here is some information about drinking rates at games that was actually done recently by the University of Minnesota. Their studies found 8% of fans leaving games to be above the legal limit for breath tests. Of course, not all of those fans will drive themselves home, but more will drive and drive further if the stadium is further from more people and not on transit.

    One comparison for the relatively drunkenness of game attendees to the general public is a survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which had 8% of drivers (16+ years old) admitting to driving drunk in the past year. It said that few drivers under 21 reported drinking and driving, so the actually percentage of drunk drivers over a year is likely higher than that. Another survey puts it at 13%, with Wisconsin at 23.7%. But, those numbers are over a year rather than after each game.

    That’s not an apples to apples comparison, but gives some numbers to ponder.

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