Only two stadiums in the history of the NFL have been built that are more expensive than what Zygi Wilf wants the public to build for him in Minnesota ($1.1 billion). Those two are Dallas ($1.19 billion) and NY ($1.6 billion). The New York stadium is more expensive, but shared by the Giants and Jets, so looks remarkably affordable by comparison. Additionally, the stadium was built with NO PUBLIC FINANCING.
Dallas is clearly a huge football town, and built a stadium to match, but had the decency to fund $750 million of the $1.19 billion price tag privately. The Wilf family, on the other hand, wants to spend nearly the same amount on a stadium as Dallas while putting is around half as much money as Dallas. That’s ridiculous. Something has to give. Either the Wilf family has to realize that it’s stupid to spend as much money as Dallas to build a stadium in Minnesota or has to come up with hundreds of millions more in private financing to make the numbers at least somewhat tolerable.
Now, here’s a scary figure:
Are we building a stadium for a sports franchise in decline? Perhaps. Even the sports industry insiders have their concerns:
The #1 threat to sports, according to a poll conducted to Sports Business Daily, is ticket prices. If that’s the issue, building a new stadium where ticket prices will surely be more expensive than they are today, and will likely be ON TOP of paying for personal seat licenses, doesn’t seem like a way to encourage attendance.
Issue #2: Disconnect with fan base. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem like demanding $650 million from the public is a good way to connect with the fan base.
Issue #3: As I understand player salary contracts, they are largely tied to TV revenues, so the NFL players association together with the NFL owners have worked together to divide up a ginormous pool of money while demanding stadiums be built with public subsidies. That’s no way to win fans.
#Issue #4: What’s not to like about the game day experience that Wilf wants to create in Arden Hills? The average game attendee will have to drive an additional 10 miles, pay more for parking in a lot paid for by the public yet Wilf keeps the profits from, with higher ticket prices, and higher concession prices. For that, they get to sit is a corporate sponsored stadium, be bombarded with ads between plays, have TV time-outs, and watch corporate sponsored contests on the field. Or, they can watch the game at home, where Wilf still gets paid.
It seems clear to me that the Vikings’ stadium plan is very risky. There is no guarantee that people will be willing to drive to Arden Hills to pay more than they pay now to watch a game they can watch on TV. Yes, the tailgaters will show up, but will the rest of the fans? And, if they don’t, who’s on the hook to make up for the losses? Keep in mind that the Vikings stopped paying rent in the Metrodome after only 20 years. What will be different this time around?