On stadiums and subsidies

A new Vikings stadium? L.A. shows us how


It is in that context that Zygi Wilf and the team's lobbyists are asking for public money. Lester Bagley, their chief lobbyist, recently stated that the cost to taxpayers to retire the debt for a new stadium could be $50 million annually. For this price, Wilf would build a 65,000-seat stadium. Every year, the Vikings would play eight home games there, plus two preseason ones.

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!

That's a lot of money. Especially when many Minnesotans are struggling to make ends meet and to pay for health care, and government is slowly shutting down core services.

What about the supposed economic benefits of keeping the Vikings? Businesses seeking public money hire consulting firms to produce studies showing "new" tax revenues generated by the business, revenues they claim would not exist without that business.

But neutral economic studies show the opposite. The difference is easy to explain. Studies produced by the team imply that revenue for salaries and profits that generate those taxes comes out of thin air. In fact, those revenues are paid by spectators, fans and advertisers — who, if they didn't spend it on the Vikings, would spend it on other things, enabling other businesses to hire people and make money, all of which also generates tax money, perhaps more money than would be generated by the team. The economic reality is that these subsidies do not pay for themselves.

Comment: I oppose public subsidies to build a new stadium! Just charge the true cost of the ticket. See who can afford to go! (I can't afford to go now!)

1 comment:

  1. Before moving overseas in 2005, I worked for Anoka County's public information department - much of my time was spent on various projects involved with their bid to get a new stadium built in Blaine.

    After seeing the side that is definitely *for* public subsidy of stadiums (the county had voted to give them up to $220 million, and were asking the state to do the same), my feelings are mixed. I definitely agree with the point in the article that if money isn't spent on an NFL team, it will be spent elsewhere - that makes sense. But there's also the part that having the Metrodome has brought money in from outside the state too - with things like the Final Four tournaments. There's not many other reasons Minnesota would get tourists in March. :) And there's definitely a benefit for local businesses around a stadium, which is why the Anoka County board voted to go after it in the first place.

    But if I lived in a community that was going to be taxed to pay for it....no thanks. :)


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