Minnesota Tax Dollars Should Finance a New Vikings Stadium

Ben SchmitContributor IAugust 19, 2009

Would you pay $0.20 cents per week for a fancy new football stadium and a guarantee of a permanent NFL presence in Minnesota?

One billion dollars.  That's all the state needs to pony up for a new Vikings stadium.  That's an up-front, one time fee.

Spread over the expected 20-year lifetime of the new facility, and divided by the population of Minnesota (5,220,393 - Jul 2008. Source: U.S. Census Bureau), that one billion dollars breaks down to about $0.18 cents per week per every man woman and child in the State of Minnesota—less than $40 dollars a year for a family of four.

Look at the benefits gained by building a new Vikings Stadium.  Yes, there's the standard arguments regarding job creation and economic impact.  But many of the jobs created by a replacement for the Metrodome either already exist, will be of such short term benefit as to not make a decisive impact, or are jobs of the low-paying, low taxpaying sort.

Look instead at the intangible, less obvious benefits a new, billion dollar, state of the art facility would bring.

The National Football League's presence in the Twin Cities' (and, to be fair, the outstate and Dakotas' markets as well) brings with it a certain prestige and credibility.  Civic pride goes a long way towards fostering involvement in and a sense of community.  A new stadium will certainly bring another Super Bowl to the region.

Moreover, let's face it, rooting for and following our beloved Vikings—week after week, year after year, despite all the ups and downs and heartache—is a hell of a lot of fun, Favre or no Favre.

The argument against giving a billionaire a billion dollars so he can make a billion more is both obvious and compelling. The State subsidizing the cartoonishly rich is, of course, a ridiculous notion.

However, the State of Minnesota has spent well over one billion dollars in taxpayer money on ethanol subsidies over the last 20 years, a highly popular program, especially with General Mills, Conagra, and ADM.

Zygi Wilf should by no means be given a blank check.  If the people of the State of Minnesota are going to bankroll a billionaire's playground, certain concessions should be demanded. 

An iron-clad guarantee that the Vikings franchise will never move from the state, including riders on any future sales of the team prohibiting the relocation of the Vikings to another market, will put a stop to the "Pay Up or We'll Move Your Team" blackmail party once and for all.

A sizable portion of the seats in any new stadium should be reserved at below-market prices, guaranteeing access for everyone.

The Minnesota Vikings should, beyond a shadow of a doubt, be playing football outdoors.  Perhaps the stadium subsidy should be $1.1 billion, assuring the installation of heated seats.

At less than $10 dollars per year per head, spread over 20 years, a publicly financed Vikings stadium is a bargain, even at double that price.