A “Reasonable Liberal” on Publicly Financing the NFL #wilfare cc @LiberalPolitico

A Twitter user who goes by the name “Reasonable Liberal” broke down a justification for subsidizing the Wilf Family of Fraudsters in New Jersey rather than investing Minnesota tax payers money in Minnesotans.

True. And, the people and businesses who appreciate that additional value the most are perfectly capable of finding their wallets to support the entertainment they appreciate. The MN Orchestra, unlike the MN Vikings, exposes kids to music rather than how to create concussions between arrests.

According to the Pioneer Press, the MN Orchestra received $962,000 in subsidies for a year, and the Minneapolis Convention & Visitors bureau claims that the MN Orchestra had 215,000 paid attendees. That’s an average subsidy of $4.47/ticket. Compare that to the Vikings subsidies of closer to $70/ticket per game for 30 years. And, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an orchestra attendee buy beer by the case, then park in an empty lot to pre-orchestra.

The NFL puts you on the map for sure. Just look at what it’s done for Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit.

You’re right. Warren Buffett’s wrong. Case closed.

And, Kiplinger was wrong when they named Omaha the 3rd best place to live in the USA. And, Parenting.com was wrong when they named Omaha the 8th best place to live in America for families. Granted, Kiplinger’s overlooked having an NFL team in their ranking criteria. Instead, they used:

Population Growth Since 2000: 6.6%
Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 30%
Cost-of-Living Index: 89.4 (100 being national average)
Median Household Income: $51,627
Income Growth Since 2000: 15.1%

Different strokes.

Totally. No Minnesotan is proud of the local bands they’ve seen at First Avenue or Triple Rock. None take any pride in the orchestra, our local arts scene, or local beers. If you’ve ever seen a Minnesotan talking to someone from another state, there’s simply NOTHING they can bring up about Minnesota that they take pride in outside of our publicly subsidized NFL team. You’ll never hear a single mention of Target, General Mills, the Mayo Clinic, Surly or Summit beer, Spam, the State Fair, Lake Minnetonka, cabins, Bob Dylan, the Jucy Lucy, or the Coen Brothers. When it comes to sports references, you’ll never hear a single mention of the Timberwolves, Twins, Wild, Lynx, or any Gopher sports. None. Actually, one would have to have a very narrow obsession with a single sport that plays 10 home games per year to overlook this reality.

Personally, I’d like to see an “allegiance with my neighbor” built around this: what’s the best we can do for our kids? I don’t think the answer would be “subsidize the Wilf Family of Fraudsters” for many people who ask their neighbors that question.

Without four pro sports teams in Minneapolis and St Paul, what could people from the lakes region talk to people from the Twin Cities about? Would they have to cave to talking about subsidized baseball? Subsidized hockey? Subsidized basketball? Subsidized college football? What kind of world is that?

Do you honestly believe that America is healthiest if “the national conversation” revolves around alliances to each person’s publicly subsidized private NFL franchise?

Prove it. Not anecdotally. Prove that Minnesota and Minneapolis see actual net gains in population that justifies sending subsidizing a the Wilf Family of Fraudsters rather than spending that money investing in the kinds of things that tend to drive real estate prices (quality schools, low crime).

Haven’t you noticed that Minnesota pops up on nearly every list put out by publications ranking cities based on positive attributes? Best places to live, healthiest cities, fittest places, longest life spans, most educated populations. Where does having a publicly subsidized NFL team compare to things that have a significant impact on people’s lives rank? Have you not noticed that Minnesotans go outside in the winter? Ice fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, and XC Skiing don’t rely upon the level of subsidies we’ve given to the Wilf Family of Fraudsters.

The “no big loss” theory assumes that people may spend their weekends and entertainment dollars differently, but still largely within the State of Minnesota if we didn’t publicly subsidize an NFL team with $1.66 million PER GAME for 30 years BEFORE interest, and WITHOUT considering operating costs and the obvious future demands from the NFL to upgrade the stadium to make it “competitive”.

Those are all local non-profits that receive FAR LESS public subsidized than the for profit NFL team that’s owned by the Wilf Family of Fraudsters.

I’ve been to all. They’re assets to the community. As I’ve mentioned before, “The Guthrie’s per seat subsidy over 30 years comes to $1.67, compared to the Wilf’s current demand of $77.” Even with the Vikings being owned by the Wilf Family of Fraudsters who’ll suck money out of the State of Minnesota, I could see subsidizing a new Vikings stadium to the same per-seat rate as the Guthrie. That comes to $10.8 million.

It declares that we’re not Bridgeport, not Madison, not Raleigh, and not Austin, who all have higher numbers of college educated residents, but no NFL team.

Minneapolis is optimistic about its future. And Minneapolis residents just voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new mayor who voted against subsidizing the NFL.

Agreed. When the Building Trades lied to people on push poll phone calls, they didn’t do it out of love for the Vikings. They did it to influence people into supporting public subsidies for a bad project that would put them to work. Greed is a good motivator.


No. That’s a huge difference for a very small number of recruits who happen to be into music AND the Red Sox.

Many of the most elite schools in the United States are in communities that don’t have NFL teams. Perhaps we should focus on being more elite than providing entertainment to college students?

No, that’s not why the city and state did what they did. The DFL voted to support the unions who support them. Country club GOP members voted to subsidize the entertainment expenses of large corporations. Deciding votes among Minneapolis city council members justified their votes based on threats of money being taken from them by the state by union member legislators.

We didn’t invest. We subsidized. Los Angeles somehow survives just fine without pro football. I have no interest in living in Chicago and have many well paid friends who feel the same. If you need an NFL team to sell the benefits of Minneapolis over Chicago, you really should spend more time getting to know Minneapolis.

Honestly, the recruiting angle doesn’t do it for me. If local businesses thought that having an NFL team was critical to their success they could invest in it. In fact, that actually happened when the Metrodome was built. There was even money from a company called Dayton’s. Now, we have a Dayton redistributing money from Minnesota and Minneapolis taxpayers to the Wilf Family of Fraudsters in New Jersey.

Speaking of “reasonable liberals”, when the vote on the Vikings stadium took place, the reasonable liberals voted against the stadium. Reasonable liberals like Karen Clark, Jim Davnie, Frank Hornstein, Erin Murphy, Michael Paymar, and Jean Wagenius voted against the Vikings stadium corporate Wilfare bill in the house, and Scott Dibble, Kari Dziedzic, John Marty, and Patricia Torres Ray in the senate. These are reasonable people. I’m curious to find out who “Reasonable Liberal” considers to be reasonable liberals considering the opposition to the stadium subsidies by reasonable liberals.

3 thoughts on “A “Reasonable Liberal” on Publicly Financing the NFL #wilfare cc @LiberalPolitico”

  1. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an orchestra attendee buy beer by the case, then park in an empty lot to pre-orchestra.” — Maybe we should! I mean, hello, Peavey Plaza.

    There is so much scholarly research to refute that “put you on the map” claim, addressing both the economics and the harder-to-define cultural value. I wrote a paper last summer about the ethics of the GreenMark business model that references some of this stuff. To quote myself:

    “Rick Eckstein and Kevin Delaney consider the alleged noneconomic benefits of community self-esteem and community collective conscience to be socially constructed by the powerful to achieve the goal of stadium support despite community resistance to the weak economic case. They find that these arguments have more resonance in some places than others, and prey upon people’s fears that their city will some how become a lesser place without this major league sports team (2002). It’s the “Cold Omaha” argument, which has apparently been used not only in the Twin Cities, but also in Denver and in St. Louis. Similarly, Phoenix is afraid of becoming Tucson, and Cincinnati would hate to become Dayton.”

    “This construction deliberately manipulates what Eckstein and Delaney call internal self-esteem — Is this city ‘first-rate’? — and external self-esteem — Can this city compete for talent against other cities? Eckstein and Delaney describe the community collective conscience construction as a narrative positioning sports enjoyment as ‘social glue’ that used to be provided by religion and/or the more frequent personal interactions typical of life in times past (2002). Eckstein and Delaney use the Metrodome as an example of economic development not following behind new stadium construction. They also suggest that these narratives are used to purposely obfuscate inequality issues and note that such issues typically persist even in the presence of a successful team that enjoys good attendance (2002).”

  2. To lead off, those tweets were not meant to represent a comprehensive defense of the stadium — as they don’t even mention the direct economic benefits, the already transforming urban landscape, the benefits of mix use, ect, ect. The tweets were simply trying to convey what I believe to be the benefits of an NFL franchise that, as you pointed out, can’t be counted.

    I’ll be honest… I’m hesitant to engage in a larger discussion.

    I’ve found — the only way for an online debates to be at all fruitful is if both sides of the conversation retain a modicum of respect for each other and, dare I say, a small amount of humility. I found your post to be laced with insults and drenched in dismissive sarcasm. I’m not sure what crime I’ve committed beyond holding an opposing view. Have you spent so much fighting with people that you’ve forgotten how to have a conversation?

    You’ve spent the last 2 years hunkering down and fortifying your opposition. I hold no illusions that my arguments will be sufficient enough to shake you from that post. My main goal is to at least convince you that stadium supporters can be decent people — who, like yourself, are striving for a better Minnesota. On this point, if you’re beyond convincing, then I really don’t know what we’re doing here. I have no desire to get into a yelling match with an immovable object.

    With that being said, I’ll respond to some of the points you’ve made and hope that this evolves into a genuine attempt to understand each other better.

    You ask if I consider certain stadium opponents to be reasonable people. Of course I do! To be reasonable is to remain considerate of opposing views.
    It is not attached to a particular ideology. I’m somewhat baffled that you would suggest otherwise. I like talking with people I disagree with as long the discourse is civil. I learn much more about my own beliefs that way. I imagine many of the politicians you cite would share this view.

    There is a basic misunderstanding that consumes much of your post. Tweets which point out the positive affects of an NFL franchise have somehow convinced you that I hold little to no reverence for other state and city institutions. For what it’s worth, I’m a member of the Walker, I donate to The Heart of the Beast, I visit the MIA about once every two months, I attend countless local music shows, I love NE breweries, I’m an avid cyclist, and I think the Mayo Clinic is pretty great. My support for the Vikings hardly suggests that I consider it to be the singular asset of this state. I believe the sports teams hold value that goes beyond mere ‘entertainment’. Of course I would say the same for just about every option you listed and even said as much in a number of tweets.

    I might be arguing against a point that you’re not actually making, but any suggestion that dollars spent for one project is a direct attack on another is a common political fallacy. My support for the stadium does not negate my support for our orchestra.

    In response to your request that I “prove” our NFL franchise helps attract and retain a population befitting of a great city — I would ask you to provide similar proof in relation to our bike trails, our music scene, or the many other things that makes Minneapolis great. You and I both know these influences are impossible to graph.

    Later in your post, you incorrectly assume that I believe pro sports teams are essential for cities wishing to be noticed or for colleges to effectively recruit. This is wrong and dodges my argument. Each city and state hold unique advantages and face unique challenges when trying to attract residents and visitors. The only thing I’ve argued is that an NFL franchise is right for Minnesota.

    One reason behind this belief is the fact that many midwest communities struggle to distinguish themselves. I used Omaha as an example — not as a bad place to live, but as a city that holds little reputation. I doubt most people have Kiplinger’s report pops into people’s head when they think of this city and I don’t think it’s a good sign when a billionaire resident is the one thing that does. You can argue that national reputation isn’t important, but that’s a different conversation.

    Uhhhh… one more paragraph, then I have to retire.

    I take issue with the numbers you use when comparing the supposed “subsidy per seat” amounts. First, it doesn’t take into account television viewership of home and away games. Those audiences certainly benefit from the existence of an NFL franchise, as do the local bars that host them. Second, it ignores the fact that we’re building a mixed use stadium, not paying directly to cut ticket prices. You have to include the 30 year value of hosting college and high school baseball, high school football, a potential MLS franchise, concerts, a slew of annual events such as Hmong New Year, and more. There are zero operating costs to the state for these events.

  3. @LiberalPolitico, the burden falls to the beggar. If it made financial sense to spend half a billion dollars (not including interest payments) AND before operating costs subsidizing the NFL, that would have been the argument presented, and politicians would have voted unanimously in favor of doing so. But, since it doesn’t make economic sense, it took millions of dollars of lobbying, deals to round up votes (like subsidizing the Wild and Saints in exchange for subsidizing the Timberwolves and Vikings), and a fear based campaign that convinced people who’ve attached their own personal identities to a pro sports team that they needed to support ridiculous subsidies.

    It’s true that the state doesn’t have any operating costs to pay for the various non-Vikings events that will be held at the new stadium. But that’s because Minneapolis has been bullied into paying them. If you look at the MSFA’s financial statements, it’s obvious that nearly every event held over the 355 days per year the Vikings aren’t playing are net losers. Yes, there is value in the multi-use nature of the stadium, but it’s not an economic plus. And, none of those events required tearing down our existing stadium.

    By the way, there is already an effort to build yet another single-use facility for pro-soccer.

    Your national notoriety justification does nothing for me. I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter for everyone. Some people have to live in NYC because they think it’s the center of the universe. But, that doesn’t make it a taxpayer problem to solve. NFL fans who attend games, NFL fans who prefer to root for an NFL team that plays 10 games in their state per year, companies that feel that they need an NFL team in their market, and anyone else who measures their own worth based on proximity to an NFL franchise could easily pool their money to help subsidize the Wilf family. But, they didn’t since even they realize that it’s just not worth it unless they can exploit gambling and smoking addicts to cover the costs.

    When you argue “any suggestion that dollars spent for one project is a direct attack on another is a common political fallacy. My support for the stadium does not negate my support for our orchestra.” I feel like I need to remind you that tax dollars are fungible AND should focus on needs rather than wants.

    Outside the Midwest, another state with similar identity issues is Vermont. Burlington, Rutland, and Montepelier don’t come up very often in discussions of cities on the national stage, but they have something no NFL state has: single-payer healthcare. That seems like more of a “reasonable liberal” policy to me than sending city and state tax dollars to New Jersey.

    I noticed that you didn’t explain how Cleveland, Detroit, or Buffalo benefit from having NFL franchises. They probably are more well known than more prosperous cities without NFL teams due to their NFL subsidizes, but I don’t see how fame correlates with prosperity. Richard Florida tweeted the top-10 worst cities in the country for economic mobility. Half of them subsidize the NFL. Is that the best investment they could be making in their communities?

    While anecdotal, when I ask friends of mine who’ve moved to Minneapolis from out-state Minnesota and the Dakotas, they tend to cite the ability to find work in relatively high paying fields and being around more smart/creative people. They tend to enjoy the kinds of things than a relatively wealthy community can support, like great restaurants and entertainment choices. If Minneapolis didn’t have a publicly subsidized NFL & NBA team, would they move to Chicago or Green Bay instead of Minneapolis? No. I’m sure there are people who would, but it would be cheaper for them to use their own money to directly subsidize the NFL by paying market rates for tickets over relocating due to the loss of an NFL team.

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