Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vikings Stadium: The $64 Question

It really does become a question of math, as pointed out by State Senator John Marty in today's Star Tribune opinion section.

Zygi Wilf and his Minnesota Vikings want enough public money to cover the principal and interest for an $870 million loan to build a new, posh stadium. That's $42 million a year for 30 years.

Which, as Marty says, is a $64 subsidy per seat per game for the next 30 years.

Artists' rendering of a possible Vikings stadium
With ticket prices that range from $105 to $845 per seat in the current stadium (and that's just to see them play the Cowboys, not even a team like Green Bay, and not including the likely bump in ticket prices we'll see in the fancy new stadium), I'd say adding $64 to the ticket price might not even be noticed by the average fan. The reason for the high subsidy per seat: There are only 10 home games per season. That's $2.9 million dollars per game, people -- just to cover the $870 million in principal!

Contrast that figure with 81 home games for the Minnesota Twins (playing in a just-opened 39,504-seat stadium, built with $392 million of public financing.) They're getting subsidized $4.08 per seat per game over 30 years. (Based on selling out all the seats every game... unlikely, given the Twins' history.)

Or the Guthrie Theater (opened a few years ago with three stages totaling 2,000 seats), built with $25 million in taxpayer support. Their most recent year recorded 463,412 theater-goers, subsidized $1.80 per seat per show over 30 years.

Of course, there are arguments to be made about other economic effects of a large construction project like the Vikings stadium, and longer-term economic benefits to the area surrounding it. Not to mention the threatened loss of the Vikings to some other city that builds them a stadium (which would leave the Twin Cities as nothing but, as some have put it, "A cold Omaha").

But $64 per seat per game. For 30 years?

That's a hard argument to make.

Sources: Minnesota Twins 2010 schedule, Wikipedia entries on Target Field and Guthrie Theater, Guthrie Theater 2008-2009 annual report

1 comment:

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I absolutely agree. And I don't think 10 home games are enough to bring huge economic benefits to restaurants and bars in the area, either. This is a great comparison and a very handy figure to know about. Thanks for posting!