Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Rest of the Story...or How the Vikings Intend to Shaft the Public

In his long-running radio show, widely syndicated radio personality, Paul Harvey, would offer some surprising information without disclosing the subject or some mundane information about a subject without disclosing the surprising information until later. What came next was what Harvey referred to as "the rest of the story."

For some time now, the Minnesota Vikings have been attempting to channel Paul Harvey, only without disclosing the rest of the story. The opening to the story is that the Vikings want a new stadium. And they want the public to pay for "part" of it. And they want the public to agree to pay for "part" of it without being afforded the opportunity to agree (or not). And they want it now. And they want more concessions down the road. Oh, that's part of the rest of the rest of the story.

For now, we can settle for the rest of the story. The rest of the story is what the Vikings are not telling anyone who will be footing the bill. The rest of the story goes something like this--the Vikings want desperately to build a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis. They want a retractable roof on that new stadium. They want a stadium that can be used for other events. They want all of the revenue streams associated with the new stadium. They want all of the tax deductions associated with "owning" a new stadium. They want additional state and county tax concessions.

And, they really want the public to foot most if not all of the bill.

How's that?

Yes, the Vikings are looking to the public to foot the bulk of the cost of a new stadium--perhaps all of the cost.

But don't take my word for it, just look at the math.

Between 2000 and 2002, the City of Seattle built the Seattle Seahawks a new football stadium. Nobody has anything bad to say about Seattle's still relatively new facility, that comes with a partial roof and 111 luxury suites. The cost of constructing the stadium was $360 million.

There are several interesting points about the Seattle stadium. One is that the cost was borne during a hyper-active period for construction. Adjusted for the downturn in the economy and in the construction business, in particular, a similar stadium should cost even less to construct today. Logically, that should mean that constructing a new stadium in Minneapolis should cost less than $360 million, not the $1.1 billion dollars that the Vikings have pulled out of the sky to make it appear that the $360 million is but a small portion of the total construction cost.

Another interesting point regarding the Seattle stadium is that it was constructed as a public-private partnership with the public cost fixed at $360 million (not surprisingly the cost of actual construction of the stadium) and only after a state-wide referendum--yes, the very type of referendum which, according to Minnesota Vikings' officials, "the public always rejects." As the State of Washington has demonstrated, the public does not always reject such public-private ventures, but it certainly is more likely to do so when there is little sense that the venture will mean anything to the public other than a handful of football games.

In Seattle, the City, King County, and the State share in an annual $850,000 payment from the Seahawks. The team keeps everything else--somewhere in the neighborhood of $65,000,000. That's a great deal for the Seahawks, and far better than they deserve given the State's level of contribution to the team. And still, it is much less than the Vikings appear intent on taking from the residents of Minnesota.

If the Vikings want a stadium in Minnesota, they have three options. The first is to build their own stadium with their own money and recoup that money by putting a quality product on the field and charging fans what the market bears--that tends to be the option of the non-entitlement, open market crowd, at least when the issue is not a new stadium for them. The second option is to partner with the State and relevant municipality in a profit-sharing arrangement. That puts the sense back into a public deal. The Vikings don't seem to want that, however, because they prefer option three. That option is to make demands, effuse a sense of entitlement, insist that the public--on whom the team relies for the petty cash (truly)--not have any say save for the say of their corrupted representatives (see, e.g., Ramsey County Commissioners), and have a stadium built for them to the tune of $660 million in public funding, with the team contributing "the rest" of what will not be required to build the stadium.

As long as the Vikings stick with option three, and locals like Lester Bagley essentially tell the public to pay up AND lump it, there should be no tears shed if the Vikings ever finagle a move to LA--a remote option in any event. And if local "leaders" actually cave to this sophomoric charade, we surely will have confirmation as to who butters their bread.

Up Next: Wasting Webb in Favor of McNabb?


Big A said...

dude you dont know what your talking about. obviously for a vikings "geek" you the vikings "clown

grepper said...

I disagree with most of your assumptions about costs and the scope of the benefits of having a stadium.

However, I agree that if there is going to be a "public private partnership" the proceeds should be shared. I'd argue that it should be structured such that the Vikings take the profit from their games and the state/county takes the profit from any other events at the stadium. Or the profits should be split based on the contribution levels. The vikings have several other income sources beyond ticket sales, but they need a stadium to play in to get those.