PoliGraph: DFL lawmaker right–Metrodome was a good deal

A plan to build a new Vikings stadium dominated debate this week in the Legislature, with lawmakers from both parties lining up on either side of the issue.

DFL Sen. John Harrington supported the plan, saying that a relatively small public contribution could reap big financial benefits for the state.

“If we look back historically, the Metrodome was built with about $33 million in public dollars. It has returned to the state $340 million,” Harrington said. “I don’t have any investments that return that kind of return on investment, and at the same time it has put people to work.”

Harrington’s claim is on solid ground.

The Evidence

The Metrodome opened in 1982 and cost $55 million to build, according to the Viking’s website. The public investment was roughly $33.6 million, including $25.6 million from the City of Minneapolis and $8 million from a seven county liquor tax.

The state did not contribute to the stadium’s construction.

In 2009, the Metrodome had generated roughly $320 million for state, Minneapolis and the surrounding area since it opened, according to a 2009 report conducted by RSM McGladrey on behalf of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. The vast majority of the cash went to the state.

But that tax revenue study is a few years old. More recently, the Vikings say the Metrodome has generated nearly $360 million in tax revenue, with more than $340 million of that going to the state’s general fund.

The Vikings estimate they pay roughly $20 million annually in state and local taxes. Roughly $10 million comes from income taxes paid by NFL players, coaches, trainers and other employees with incomes more than $250,000, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

The Verdict

Harrington’s claim appears to be in range according to several estimates.

His claim is accurate.


RSM McGladrey, Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission, Analysis of the Estimated Historical Tax Revenue Benefit to State, County and Local Governmental Agencies from Activities Associated With Major Professional Sports Facilities in Minnesota, December 2009

The Minnesota Vikings, New Minnesota Stadium, accessed May 9, 2012

The Minnesota Vikings, Quick Hits – Benefits Downtown East New Stadium, accessed May 9, 2012

Email exchange, John Stiles, spokesman, Mayor R.T. Rybak, May 8, 2012

Email exchange, Ryan Brown, spokesman, Minnesota Department of Revenue, May 8, 2012

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