Monday, January 09, 2012

Marty Does Not Go Far Enough in Denouncing Those Cooking the Books on Behalf of the Vikings

Minnesota Representative John Marty has finally come out with it, the realization that the Vikings have enlisted the aid of those purportedly working on behalf of the public to identify a public-private stadium venture for the Minnesota Vikings that benefits the public beyond merely having an edifice that it doesn't even own. Marty's criticism of Ted Mondale, the crony pick of Governor Mark Dayton to head the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission while receiving pay from a separate position created by the Governor just for him, is that Monday is cooking the books for the Vikings.

In support of his claim, Marty notes that, in presenting what was to have been a neutral evaluation of the Vikings' stadium options and whether public subsidies were appropriate in the construction of a new stadium, Mondale omitted facts damning to his conclusions that generous public subsidies are the norm in the NFL and that cities pay three times the cost of what the Vikings are asking the residents of Minnesota to pay for a new stadium, in attempts to regain NFL teams once teams have left a given market. Marty pointed to facts that directly countered both assertions.

Understandably, no matter how belatedly Marty has come to the realization, Marty is irate, as should be all Minnesotans, regardless of their position on subsidizing a Vikings' stadium.

But Marty is only clawing at the tip of the collusion iceberg on this matter. In addition to Mondale's apparent betrayal of the public trust, similar actors have perpetrated similar betrayals in Ramsey County, and the Vikings, themselves, continue to play the game, arguing that the "cost of a new stadium" is over one billion dollars, when the cost of constructing a shiny new stadium, with accoutrements and a retractable roof is easily less than half that figure.

Marty is justified in his outrage and that outrage should only gain momentum that either kills a Viking stadium deal or confirms for all that the state, not the Vikings, hold the cards in this game. If Marty is interested in moving that shift along, there's no reason to stop with his note of Mondale's misrepresentation of facts.

Up Next: Draft.

6 comments:

comet52 said...

If you have numbers showing a stadium costing 500 mil you ought to be forwarding them to pols and the media. MetLife field was 1.5 bil, Cowboys was 1.2. Those are actual costs not estimates and MetLife doesn't have a roof. Santa Clara will be about 1.0, AEG's L.A. field is estimated to be 1.1-1.5 depending on whom you talk to.

It's true that these public/private "partnerships" are a taxpayer ripoff but making up facts (as you frequently seem to do) to support an argument doesn't make sense.

vikes geek said...

Comet,

Surely you jest. And surely you understand that the new "stadiums" being built are much more than stadiums. And surely, as well, you understand that LA locations will have higher costs than Minnesota costs. Surely, surely, surely (shall I go on?), but I'm not so sure that you understand any of these or related points given your statements.

If you want to cherry pick, why choose the most expensive structures (all of which include significant amenities that have nothing necessarily to do with a stadium)? Seattle built a luxurious playpen for the Seahawks for $430 million. You don't need any more examples of the significantly lower cost of building a stadium as you only need one builder. In this economic climate, the buyer is king, as well.

I suspect your version of near unflinching support for whatever the team to which you are beholden feeds you is a dwindling phenomenon, at least in this market. When not even the politicians accept the numbers, the writing is on the wall. It probably will not cause you meaningful harm to be the last to know, but given your ongoing need to make petty clarifications and call out legitimate claims that are readily substantiated by even a modicum of a penchant for doing google searches and I suspect that being the last to know will greatly bruise your substantial ego.

VG

comet52 said...

Seattle stadium was priced at 440 mil 14 years ago. 1998 was when construction started. As I said, if you have a construction estimate for a 500 million dollar stadium here 14 years later, forward it to the pols.

Why go on about my unflinching support for whatever the team wants, when I state plainly that public private partnerships are a taxpayer ripoff? Arguing against public money for a stadium by claiming one can be built for an imaginary number doesn't make sense.

vikes geek said...

Comet,

It's not my job to break down costs. Rather, that job rests with those requesting funding and those granting funding. That means that the Vikings have an obligation to break down numbers and the municipality funding the project has an obligation to ensure that the numbers are correct and that the funding is for what the municipality believes it is funding.

The Vikings do not need a Jerry Jones-like edifice. Nor would any municipality in Minnesota face the costs of construction associated with purchasing land and building in or around Los Angeles or New York. The municipality underwriting the Vikings ought to consider both less expensive undertakings and the benefit of undertaking construction during an abysmal period in the construction year. Both factors argue for a far less expensive stadium than what the Vikings initially proposed for Arden Hills and far less than that for which the Vikings even now are lobbying.

Seattle's stadium construction cost was finalized, pursuant to overrun guidelines in the contract, in 2002, when the stadium was completed. Other stadiums that were completed within the past decade include those for Arizona ($455m), Philadelphia ($320m), New England ($325m), Houston ($325m), and Detroit ($430m). Here's the trend--all cost well less than 50% less than what the Vikings are originally contended to be the cost of a new stadium and three cost nearly one-third of the that estimate. Each was constructed, as well, at the height of the construction boom in the U.S. and well before the current recession. Were the Vikings to "settle" for one of these stadiums, building in a time when the construction economy remains in shambles, the cost of construction for a new stadium clearly ought not be anywhere near $1 billion. And, FYI, neither Minneapolis nor the Vikings even believes that the Vikings' original figure north of $1 billion is the real figure. Not only is that figure not north of $1 billion, it ought not even be north of half of that. The actual figure depends on what comes with the site--parking, additional romper room land, amenities that have little to do with the stadium itself, except that they are included in the cost, etc. There is also the matter of who negotiates the contract and who has the vested interested in negotiating a contract. If you prefer simply to accept that because the Vikings point to a figure, that figure must be justifiable, that's your option. What that acceptance will ignore, however, are sensible evidence to the contrary and the Vikings' own public admission that their original figure was high (by at least $300 million!).

Ultimately, however, I'm not sure what point you are making. Is it that the cost of constructing a similar stadium to those built in the past decade has gone up in some cases 300%? Or is it that the public ought simply to defer to whatever number the Vikings give and accept the Vikings' stadium design and request for funding as legitimate? Minneapolis has not done either and neither, even, has Ramsey County.

VG

comet52 said...

A big portion of the rise in costs is a rise in the prices of commodities which provide the bulk of stadium construction materials. Iron ore for example is nearly 4 times what it was in 2000 today. Mortenson estimates in the AH proposal doc show a stadium cost of 670 mil with a 205 mil retractable roof. While it may not be your job to breakdown costs as you put it, any argument against the estimated cost of a stadium necessarily involves doing just that.

Two of the stadiums you mentioned have retractable roofs and the rest don't which makes the comparison somewhat less accurate. All of them finishd construction many years ahead of the estimated completion date for the Viking stadium. The Philadelphia stadium cost 512 mil or 611 in 2011 dollars, to name one example which you provide an inaccurate estimate for. I don't believe Mortenson is lying about what it will cost, which leaves you going to your reps to quibble over the details - "I don't think they need that luxury lounge stadium club up there on the third deck!"

SO just to repeat, I think public private partnerships for stadiums are a ripoff because stadiums are not a good investment - if they were, the money to build them would be readily available from investors. Although the Santa Clara project proposed in the Bay Area does in fact finance itself in just that manner.

Nevertheless, if I were going to make an argument about costs I'd come up with some better, accurate specifics if I were you. Fact is, all construction costs have dramatically outpaced general inflation in the last few years due to commodities hitting the roof.

joseph burrell said...

in my opinion I think that Marty must have gone further as much as he could because this kind of things in this sport cannot be allowed, and my price per head agent friend who is beside me agrees with me on this