Stadium Questions from a Concerned Vikings Fan

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.

I addressed CSL’s numbers here.

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.

I addressed CSL’s numbers here.

6. According to Convention, Sports & Leisure, a new stadium would generate $145 million annually for Minnesota businesses.

I addressed CSL’s numbers here.

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.

6 thoughts on “Stadium Questions from a Concerned Vikings Fan”

  1. Not sure if you’re reading the comments on today’s NYT article, but I thought this one was interesting:

    “I implore you in Minnesota .. DO NOT DO THIS DEAL!!!!!!!!! From the taxation side of things it sounds so much like the stadium deal we struck here in Cincinnati/Hamilton County Ohio to keep the Bengals in town. Our half percent tax has changing into more and it’s still not enough to cover the debt for the next 21 years of our obligation. Meanwhile the NFL and Mike Brown, owner of the Bengals has legally fought every effort to get them to pay for some of this shortfall.

    This is the same NFL that the Vikings are associated with, obviously.

    Currently there is a move afoot to bankrupt the county so we can get out from under the deal with have with the NFL’s Bengals. It’s just pure long term debt.

    If you want a stimulus package spend it elsewhere like schools, education, infrastructure .. ANYTHING BUT FOOTBALL.

    BTW, our Hamilton County negotiator for the deal now works for, guess .. the Cincinnati Bengals. DO NOT TRUST YOUR OFFICIALS PUSHING TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN! We did and now we are stuck with debt we cannot begin to afford. CORRUPTION AT IT’S FINEST.”

    Might be interesting to learn more about the situation in Cincinnati.

  2. @Tom, the Cincinnati deal is particularly horrible. The county put paid for 95% of the stadium, and is responsible for much more of the ongoing costs than typical stadium deals. The current Vikings stadium proposal isn’t THAT bad, but it’s not good enough.

    In the end, like Cincinnati, we would be dedicating public dollars to create private profits for a guy in New Jersey who has a dream of building a 21,000 capacity parking lot in Arden Hills. That’s not an appropriate role for a functional government.

  3. You are REALLY reaching on some of these. MANY, MANY more fans come to Minnesota from othe states (N.Dakota, S.Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc) to watch the Vikings than leave the state to watch their team. Of the above surrounding states, only one, Wisconsin, even has a team!!! So I highly doubt the 22% who come from out of state is offset, like you say. In fact, I go to a LOT of games and have met people who are season ticket holders from TX, IN, WA, MI, and many other states. Most say they fly in every weekend to see the game. That brings in revenue to bars, restaurants, hotels, taxi services, car rental companies, etc… In fact, of all of the NFL teams, the Vikings have the MOST fans that live out of state than any other team. In fact, the Vikings vs Green Bay game set a record for ratings (and it wasn’t because of the Packers because it beat all of the other Packers games).

    As far as your statement that “Many [Vikings players] have contributed to the state’s law enforcement”… How many Vikings players have been arrested? Do you even know? 32. Do you know what some of these arrests are for? Cedric Griffin was arrested for wearing his pants too low. Really? Most of the arrests were very minor, even laughable, in nature. The players do much more good for the state with charity than arrests for wearing their pants too low or forgetting their belt that day.

    As far as losing the North Stars, yeah they did alright in Dallas. However, it costs A LOT MORE to start an expansion team than it does to keep an existing team. And we will STILL have to build a new stadium for an expansion team. What new franchise would want the washed-up toilet that the Metrodome is? Answer: none. It will take a LOT of money to attract a new team to MN. Minneapolis is far too large a market with too many multi-national corporations to not have an NFL team. People don’t set up businesses or move here for the weather or the traffic, which frankly sucks compared to most other big cities (I travel every other week and I know), they move here for the culture. Like it or not, the Vikings have been a major factor in that culture for 51 years. As a salesman for major C-Level executives, most of them want me to fly them in for one thing, a VIKINGS GAME! They want to see Jared Allen record 2 sacks or AP run for over 100 yards.

    As for contractor jobs, I work with high level contractors and THEY ALL WANT THIS. That industry is choking. They need the work, even if it is short-term.

    According to Mortenson Construction, each year of delay will increase the stadium project costs by over $50 million. THIS IS TRUE. As someone who works with people in high level construction jobs, I know first hand that material costs are going up at an alarming rate each year and labor, safety, worker’s comp, etc is the same. Also, ever since OSHA became privately funded, their safety regulations are ridiculous, at best, and are made so they can fine people to keep their funding.

    4. 95% of the total materials and labor costs from a new stadium are expected to go to local trades people in Minnesota. Your rebuttal to this plain sucks. Most raw materials will come from within state. If they aren’t produced here they will come from something called a local distributor. Ever heard of those? It would only benefit the stadium to purchase locally as they will get LEED points on the construction. For you morons, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. All high profile construction projects, especially state-funded or partially state-funded, try to get LEED certified these days. To get LEED certified, the use of post-consumer materials should be used, energy efficient products should be used, materials should come from local suppliers, and much more.

    And you say you are a Vikings fan and always will be. That is laughable. What kind of Vikings “fan” would put up such a garbage blog without first doing some serious research into the actual facts behind each of your “rebuttals”? Most of them are half-truths at best. Like they say, the best lies contain partial truth. If you were a true fan, you would put up a blog weighing the pros and cons, not just the cons. AND you would talk to people that have more expertise in each area (construction, charities the Vikings work with, look up legal cases involving the Vikings, etc). It took me 15 minutes to kill most of what you have to say.

    I think we should use the Legacy fund, like proposed, and pony up whatever else we have to through gaming. And to those opposed to using the Legacy fund, I ask, what art exibit has moved more than 22 Million people like the Vikings did last time they played Monday night football?

    And on a final note, can we vote to kick Ed Kohler out of the state of Minnesota. He belongs in Alaska or some other state without a pro team that has a devoted following.

  4. @Ed Kohler: I thought you said on Twitter that the Viking’s Stadium plan was the worst in history of the NFL? It sounds like Cincinnati’s plan was much worse. On here you state that the Viking’s plan “isn’t THAT bad.” Which one is it?

    By the way, you and your “Wilfare” comments each ten minutes make most people, even stadium opposers, want to puke.

  5. @Jason, an easy way to stop me from saying “Wilfare” would be to write a check for $650,000,00 to Zygi Wilf to help the guy build a 21,000 car parking lot.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever said that the current Vikings proposal is the worst in the history of the NFL. It is the largest demand for public dollars ever made by an NFL team. I’ve mentioned that before. If I said that it’s the worst deal ever, I misspoke, but I don’t believe I said that. Hit me up with a link if you get a chance.

    When I said above in the comments that the Vikings proposal “isn’t THAT bad” I meant in comparison to the worst plan in NFL history. To be clear, that in no way infers that it’s in any way good.

  6. @Jason, regarding your first comment, politicans are pretty good at counting money and counting votes. If the money made sense, the Vikings would have the votes they need today to get a deal done. But, the Vikings are asking for such an unreasonable amount of money to build the 3rd most expensive stadium in NFL history (with one of the two more expensive stadiums being shared by the Jets & Giants).

    The public did not vote to use tax itself to support a private NFL franchise. Legacy Funds are off limits.

    Gambling is a bad idea as a public revenue source. Should the state decide to expand gambling, any new additional state revenue should go toward the state’s largest needs, not Zygi Wilf’s largest want.

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