Here are some questions that came in via email from a concerned Vikings fan.
I have read your blog talking about “corporate welfare”.
How do you propose that the state will make up for the lost revenue when the Vikings move to L.A.?
The public earns revenue from having the Vikings in MN playing at the paid-for Metrodome, but would lose money for the next 30 years if they agreed to the terms of the current Vikings Stadium proposal being pitched by Zygi Wilf. At least, that’s how I see the numbers.
It’s like living in a great apartment where the landlord keeps increasing the rent. Eventually, no matter how much you like it, you have to say no. The difference here is that we’re the landlord and are dealing with an unruly tenant who throws 8 good parties a year (well, 4 of the 8 tend to be good) and is demanding that we build an entirely new apartment building for him.
1. The State of MN contributed $0 towards the Metrodome and have received over $320 million in taxes to the State’s General Fund.
And the Metrodome will continue to be good investment as long as it is used. The fact that it had as many as three professional teams and one Big-10 football team using it for most of those years certainly didn’t hurt.
2. According to Convention, Sports & Leisure, the building of a stadium will have a $1.4 billion economic output to MN.
3. The tax revenues generated from the CONSTRUCTION of a Vikings stadium are projected at $26+ million annually.
That’s a good chunk of change. I’ll assume that your number is correct, and ask how the few years of that justifies $650,000,000 in public spending?
4. $25 million annually could be generated through Vikings fans user fees
Instead of publicly run user feeds / taxes, why doesn’t Zygi just build the stadium and charge whatever he needs to charge to recoup his investment? BTW, “user fees” is a term used by people who claim to be fiscally conservative but still want to tax people. It’s intellectually dishonest and popular with Cory Merrifield.
5. Projected state tax revenue from a new stadium and the Vikings is $26 million annually.
6. According to Convention, Sports & Leisure, a new stadium would generate $145 million annually for Minnesota businesses.
7. Each fan from outside the metro area attending a Vikings game spends on average $107 at restaurants, shops, hotels and more.
How does the state benefit from people outside the metro spending money in the metro rather than their own communities?
8. 22% of Vikings Season Ticket Owners live outside Minnesota and 40% reside outside the 7-county metro.
The outside the 7-county metro part was addressed above. The outside of Minnesota section is offset by Minnesota Vikings fans who leave the state to watch their team play in other cities throughout the year. For example here is a picture taken by a Minnesota based Vikings fan, Todd Glocke, supporting Kansas City’s economy.
9. All 53 Vikings players have participated in the team’s community outreach program in each of the last four years.
Many have also participated in our communities’ law enforcement system.
10. The Vikings currently pay $20 million annually in taxes to the State of Minnesota.
That’s not surprising.
11. Visiting NFL teams pay taxes to the State of Minnesota, an additional $1 million annually.
And the Vikings likely do the same during road games.
12. The Vikings are responsible for approximately $186 million of the $340 million in taxes generated from the Metrodome.
That doesn’t sound like much, considering that they’ve been there for 29 years. Can we expect a similar contribution from the Vikings at a new stadium? One where they aren’t being subsidized by the Twins and Gophers?
13. Since its inception in 1978, the Vikings Children’s Fund has distributed nearly $9 million in cash to children and family-related causes.
That sounds like a great cause. But, on a percentage of payroll basis, that’s a rounding error.
14 The Vikings receive several hundred donation requests per week and the team tries to accommodate all in the five-state area.
That’s nice. But that doesn’t make them special.
I do not know what your line of work is but mine is construction. We have nearly a 25% unemployment rate at our sheet metal local. I do not know the numbers for pipe fitters, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and Masonary workers but i would assume it would be close to the same.
It certainly is a tough time in the trades. The economy sucks, so not much is getting built. I do believe that there is a role for government to play in keeping people working during tough times. But, I don’t believe that spending $650,000,000 in public money on an NFL stadium should be our #1 stimulus program. We have plenty of other infrastructure that needs attention, including maintaining our current infrastructure (bridges, schools, government buildings).
1. Building a Vikings Stadium will support 13,000 contract jobs and opportunities.
Sounds like a good reason to lobby Zygi Wilf to build it with his own money. Or, to lobby Vikings fans to subsidize Zygi through Personal Seat Licenses rather than relying on Wilfare.
2. According to Convention, Sports, & Leisure, over 3,000 jobs full and part-time jobs will be supported by a new stadium.
That’s addressed in the same CSL link I provided above. It’s an intellectually dishonest figure since it doesn’t parse out full-time jobs from part-time jobs.
3. According to Mortenson Construction, each year of delay will increase the stadium project costs by over $50 million.
It sounds like Zygi should raise money privately as fast as he can. I really wonder about this one: Based on the escalating cost of construction, will we ever reach a point where it becomes cost prohibitive to publicly fund a private sports stadium for the NFL? Personally, I think we’ve already reached that point.
4. 95% of the total materials and labor costs from a new stadium are expected to go to local trades people in Minnesota.
The labor figure seems plausible, but what about the materials cost? Do we really have that many raw materials within the state? Or, does that mean that a local company charges us for steal purchased in Pennsylvania?
5. According to Mortenson Const., a new stadium will require over 4.2 million work hours, including 900,000 in the first 12 months.
That’s a lot of hours.
I do not feel that you will ever change your mind on this and that is fine. Every one is entitled to their opinion. It’s just that we, the state of Minnesota, stand to lose a lot when the Vikings leave and there needs to be a plan to replace the revenue when they leave.
We earn revenue with them here and in the Dome. We’d not only not earn revenue, but we’d lose revenue if we agreed to the Wilfare deal currently being discussed for the Arden Hills site. To me, that’s an easy choice. Ideally, we need to find a way to keep the team at a much lower cost to the community.
My mind is made up on the current proposal. It doesn’t make sense for the public to give $650 million to support an NFL team that has many other options available for private funding. But, I’m very open to hearing other ways to help Zygi or Vikings fans find their wallets to get a new stadium built without public welfare.
If you don’t think they will leave talk to someone from Cleveland, Houston, Baltimore, St Louis, Oakland or L.A. All have lost teams in the last couple of decades.
I have no doubt that the Vikings could leave. The NFL generated an entirely new source of revenues once they got into the business of milking hundreds of millions of public dollars out of states, counties, and cities. The only way the NFL can keep that gravy train running is to occasionally move a team. It benefits all NFL owners to let communities know that they really could lose their team if their welfare demands are not met.
(Heck, Minnesota lost the North Stars. Haven’t we learned anything from that?) Most have gotten another team to replace the original but that would come at a substantially higher cost.
We lost the North Stars AND the Lakers. And, in both cases, life went on. We also benefitted from the Washington Senators moving to MN, and from an expansion NBA team forming in our market.
Yes, I am a Vikings fan. I have always been a Vikings. Always will.
I’m a fan of the Vikings the team, but not the Vikings the business that attempts to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in welfare out of the public OR ELSE. I can handle the occasional losing season on the field, but I can’t support losing financial decisions like the Arden Hills Wilfare proposal that’s currently being discussed.