A Look at Gopher Football Attendance

I decided to take a look at how the Gophers Football program is doing from an attendance perspective these days. Here’s a look at the annual attendance averages for each season in their new stadium. I’ve averaged the first 6 games of 2012. The data can be found here.

Annual Attendance at New Gophers Stadium

They sold out every game the first year and have been steadily sliding since then.

Here is how many seats went unsold on a game by game basis since 2009:

Unsold Seats at Gopher Football Games

Put those two together and you can see the trend a bit more clearly:

Sold to Unsold Seats by Year Gophers Football

Interestingly, here’s a look at the attendance of the last four seasons of Gopher Football at the Metrodome vs the first four at the new Gopher stadium.

Metrodome vs New Gopher Stadium Attendance

The past two Gopher Football seasons have had a lower draw than all four of the final seasons at the Metrodome. In fact, two of the final three seasons at the Metrodome had a higher draw than the new Gopher stadium ever will since they drew more than the new stadium’s capacity.

Minnesota’s Recent Sports Stadium Welfare Disasters: @savethevikesorg

Paul C. Udstrand wrote up an excellent history of Minnesota sports stadium welfare debacles at Twin Cities Indymedia last month. I’ve pulled a couple highlights below, but the whole thing is worth reading by anyone seriously considering funding yet another professional sports stadium welfare program in the State of Minnesota.

The Xcel Energy Center’s failure to pay what was promised:

The arena was built with two $65 million dollar loans, one from the state of MN and the other from the city of Saint Paul. The state loan was an interest free loan to the team that the NHL is helping to pay off, and the City loan was raised via bond sales that are supposed to be paid off by rental payments from the team. In calculating the costs of the state portion McGladrey seems to assume that since it was an interest free loan, it cost the state nothing to issue it. This is an odd assumption to make. That money came from somewhere, and even if the state didn’t borrow it or issues bonds for it, it was money that was not available for other expenses. Even if that money is paid back (which is doubtful since $17 million of that loan has already been forgiven, and the team is now asking for the remaining $39 million to be forgiven) it represents a $65 million hole in the budget at the time of the loan, that’s money somebody somewhere else could have used.

The Minnesota Timberwolves dumped the Target Center arena on tax payers for $50 million less than it was worth at the time.

They play at the Target Center arena that cost $104 million dollars to build. Originally the team owned the arena and paid $83 million for the construction while the city of Minneapolis made up the difference with $20 million of financing. However by 1995 the team was losing so much money on the arena they wanted to unload it, at that point the city jumped in bought the arena. Although the stadium was only valued at $35 million dollar by then, the city paid $84 million dollars to take over the arena. Since 1995 the Target Center has continued to lose $1-$2 million a year [of taxpayer’s money]. In 2004 the Target Center underwent a major renovation but I don’t know how much that cost or how it was paid for, whatever it was, it wasn’t enough because the Mayor of Minneapolis now wants another $155 million, more than the original cost of the arena, for more renovations.

The Twins haven’t come back to the government for a fresh handout yet. However, we haven’t even reached the All-Star Break in their second season in their new stadium, so give them a bit more time. That said, due to the poor performance of the team, people are now donating their tickets to Tix for Tots rather than going themselves. If the trend continues, those tickets won’t be purchased in the first place, leading to another bail out of another stadium by another professional sports franchise.

By the way, guess what people get when they donate their tickets? You guessed it: A tax deduction. You can be sure that people are taking the deduction based on the face value of the tickets (when they were more optimistic about the Twins season) rather than what ticket holders value their tickets at today.

StarTribune Coverage of the Zygi Wilf Trial in New Jersey

In the past 60 days, the StarTribune has published 29 articles and 11 blog posts mentioning “Wilf” and “stadium”:

Zygi Wilf Trial Mentions

Over that same time period, the StarTribune has published 0 articles and 0 blog posts mentioning “Wilf” and “trial”:

Zygi Wilf Stadium Mentions

Their business appears to be a business of promoting Zygi Wilf’s business.

A little something on the other business dealings of a guy looking for hundreds of millions of tax dollars from us would be nice.

Zygi Wilf’s Ongoing Legal Battle in New Jersey

Zygi Wilf had a busy week, splitting his time between trying to convince Minnesotans to give his company hundreds of millions of dollars, while simultaneously appearing in a court case in New Jersey, where he’s being sued for screwing a business partner out of more than $20 million:

In between his appearances, he flew to Minnesota for a news conference to announce he had reached an agreement with local officials to build a new stadium for the Vikings in suburban Minneapolis. Wilf bought the Vikings in 2005 for a reported $600 million.

So, what’s the lawsuit about? Here’s an excerpt, but it’s worth clicking through to read the whole thing.

Ada Reichmann, the wife of a Toronto-based developer, had been a 25-percent partner in Rachel Gardens, a 764-unit apartment complex. Wilf declared Reichmann wasn’t contributing to the cost of the project’s development and removed her 25 percent share.

Reichmann quickly filed suit.

Her brother, Josef Halpern of Brooklyn, also owns 25 percent of the partnership. He joined the suit in 2009, claiming he’s been systematically cheated by the Wilfs over the years.

Together, Reichmann and Halpern claim Wilf and two relatives cheated them out of more than $20 million in revenues from the project. The family ran what amounted to “organized-crime-type activities” in its bookkeeping for Rachel Gardens, Halpern’s attorney, Alan Lebensfeld, told Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson during the non-jury trial.

This is the guy we’re considering going into business with? I already consider Zygi Wilf a welfare queen, but it looks like there is even more to Zygi than I knew. It’s one thing to honestly screw people out of their money. It’s something entirely different to dishonestly screw them.

If Zygi wants to build a stadium with private money and screw over private companies that do business with him, that’s his prerogative. But, I don’t want my city, county, or state to enter into a business relationship with the guy. I don’t trust him.

Zygi Wilf: Minnesota Vikings Welfare Queen

Paul Merrill broke down the redundancy of Strib comments regarding Vikings stadium talk yesterday, and I thought I’d ad my $0.02 on the ROI of public funding for professional sports entertainment stadiums.

This is my Joe 6-Pack perspective: If team owners could make the case that community subsidized stadiums provided a positive return on a community’s investment, there would be no debate about whether a stadium should be built. Politicians aren’t stupid enough to say no to projects with net positive returns. It would be the easiest sell in the world.

Clearly, the numbers don’t work. Because of that, welfare queens like Zygi Wilf tend to rely on feel good intangibles to justify giving hard earned tax payer dollars to support a billionaire’s business rather than investing the money in our local hospitals, transportation or education needs.

As long as I’m pissing on the Vikings stadium proposal, I may as well go full stream by pointing out that it’s disgusting that our government allows companies to take tax deductions on the cost of box seats. Essentially, this is transfer of income from tax payers into the pocket of Zygi Wilf:

The proposal calls for a stadium with 65,000 seats, up from the current 63,500. More important, it would give the stadium 7,500 club seats and 148 luxury suites — the big moneymakers in sports stadiums. The Metrodome currently has just 242 club seats and 99 suites.

John Marty explained the absurdity of Zigy Wilf’s pan handling in a column on MinnPost:

To put this into terms to which we can relate, Bagley wants taxpayers to subsidize each of the 65,000 seats at every Vikings home game to the tune of $77 per ticket. That is $77 in taxpayer money for each ticket, at every game, including preseason ones, for decades to come!

This is an easy problem to solve. Just add the extra $77 onto the price of every ticket to every game (and don’t let people take work related tax deductions on those tickets). What? People wouldn’t pay an extra $77 per ticket? Well, it sounds like Zigy Wilf needs to stop being such a welfare queen and pay for the stadium himself.

As far as I can tell, Zygi Wilf is holding up a cardboard sign asking for around $620,000,000 to pay for his teams entertainment complex where they play 8 regular season games per year. As I understand it, he says he’ll kick in $250 million out of $870 million to build a building, yet keep any profits the building generates.

To me, that’s a sign that Zygi has either incredible small balls, or has some of the biggest balls in the entire world. Who, in 2009, has the gonads to ask for a government handout for a professional sports entertainment complex while unemployment is high, many people have no health care, and our roads need plenty of work?

Zygi Wilf is a very special man who’ll suck harder on the government’s teat than you could possibly imagine. All I can picture right now is his face taking the shape of a penis pump while lobbying our elected officials for hundreds of hard sucked dollars for an unneeded sports entertainment complex. If only we’d agree to spend $620 million hard earned taxpayer dollars, Zygi could earn hundreds of millions on our backs through profits on government subsidized corporate box seat sales.

Is the stadium deal too good to be true? If your last name is not Wilf, the answer is obvious.

Dear Zygi: If you’re truly a football fan and not just a high rolling welfare queen – and if the stadium actually makes financial sense to build – prove it by paying for the stadium yourself. Prove to the rest of the country that the NFL is a sustainable business without government subsidies. If you don’t have enough cash on hand and don’t have good credit, ask a few friends to help finance the stadium privately. That should be an easy sell if building a stadium truly has a positive return. Right?

By the way, I noticed that Sid Hartman was too much of an ass kisser to mention how little of the stadium would be paid for by Zygi Wilf, yet did everything he could to justify the cost of the stadium over everything else the state of Minnesota should be investing taxpayer dollars in. I wouldn’t expect anything more for Sid Hartman. What a douche.

If I Ran the Olympics . . .

There would be a few changes:

1. The only synchronized sport would be the marathon. Parents could explain to their kids that there used to be other similarly stupid sports – only shorter.

2. The 100m dash finals would have one representative from each country in the entire world run on a track with enough lanes to hold everyone. It would be filmed from a blimp.

3. Equestrian, Rifle, and Archery would be merged to create one interesting sport.

4. Scrap the 1500m. We’re running the mile.

5. Judged sports would be banned. Gymnasts would try their luck on a timed obstacle course.

6. Indoor winter sports would become summer sports, including hockey and figure skating. This also solves the NHL conflict.

7. Figure skating would be replaced by barrel jumping.

8. Host cities would be chosen at random from a hat. “Hayward, Wisconsin, you’re the next host of the Olympics. You have 8 years.”

9. Advertisers would be limited to one commercial a day, so make it count.

10. The Olympics will take EVERY card BUT VISA.

Comparing High School Athletic Fields

My flight from Toronto yesterday afternoon approached MSP over Stillwater, along I-694 to Maple Grove, then made a U-Turn taking things toward the airport from the West starting around Wayzata.

While heading East, I grabbed shots of three high schools and their athletic fields:

Hopkins:
Hopkins High School and Athletic Fields

I count 8 tennis courts, eight baseball/softball diamonds, a hockey arena, a football stadium, a football practice field made of turf grass, etc.

St. Louis Park (Flory, is your new house in this photo?):
St. Louis Park High School adn Athletic Fields

Washburn:
Washburn High School and Track

It’s interesting to see how the acreage gets progressively smaller as I moved into the city from a 2nd and 1st ring suburb. What’s funny is that while Hopkins dwarfs Washburn for field sizes, it’s nothing compared to what Eden Prairie or Chaska have to offer.

Sport Beans Prevent Bonking

Sports BeansJelly Belly has finally come out with a product for endurance athletes who are trying to prevent bonking on a long run or ride. Sports Beans to the rescue.

What makes them different from regular Jelly Belly’s? Well, the colors and flavors are less fun, which is appropriate for serious athletes. Could you take yourself seriously in a marathon while popping popcorn flavored Sports Beans?

Calorie-wise, they appear to be exactly the same (100 calories per ounce) as their non-sports relatives. They happen to be slightly higher is sodium and potassium, so maybe the electrolyte boost will save the heavy sweaters out there?

There is one ingredient missing from Sports Beans that’s found in Gatorade, Ultima, and just about every other energy product for endurance athletes. In fact, it’s clearly the most important ingredient, yet Sports Beans left it out. Any idea what that is?