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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Why Minnesota should build the stadium

This may sound wildly, even ludicrously hypocritical. No doubt people will assume it is because I am a diehard Vikings fan who wants the team to remain in Minnesota. But that actually has nothing to do with it. I readily concede the following:

1. It is ridiculous for an indebted state to give millions of dollars to a billionaire.
2. The new stadium will not boost the state's economy in the slightest
3. The new stadium will not save any jobs or maintain the tax base in any significant manner
4. It is not fair for non-NFL fans to subsidize the entertainment preferences of others
5. The stadium will cost more than is estimated and the state will be saddled with the cost overruns

So, why should they do it anyhow? Because I know Minnesota. If they stand firm and let the Vikings leave for Los Angeles - a profoundly stupid move on the NFL's part, since no matter what team goes there will end up moving eventually - they will end up spend three to five times more to lure a new team to the area. See: Lakers-Timberwolves and North Stars-Wild. Moreover, the new team will contribute nothing to the stadium cost because the stadium will have to be built before the team is courted. So it's not a choice between stupidly spending $400-$750 million now or not spending that money, it's a choice between stupidly spending $400-$750 million now and stupidly spending $1.5-$4 billion a few years from now. This doesn't mean I support public expenditure on team stadiums. I don't. I think the NFL ownership restrictions are a shameless scam and the Green Bay Packers have an ideal ownership model that is a proven success both on and off the field.

But I'm also cognizant of the reality that there is no chance that the same politicians who have been talking bravely about standing up the NFL will not turn around and be shamelessly kowtowing before it if they lose the team. They've done it before and they will do it again. They've already built stadiums for the Timberwolves, the Wild, the Twins, and the football Gophers, none of whom enjoy the support that the Vikings do. So, it's vastly preferable that they just get it over with now, when it's going to cost less and the team will pay some of the expense.

As it happens, a modified stadium bill has passed both the House and the Senate. So, as I've assumed all along, it looks as if they're going to go ahead and agree to pay for it now that they have drawn out the process as long as they could manage.

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