Public financing of football stadiums: This is how they do it

In proposing a hotel and car rental tax, political boosters of a publicly financed stadium for the Minnesota Vikings aren’t breaking new ground. The two taxes are the most-often-used methods of public financing in NFL stadiums. Only one other team — Seattle — uses lottery revenue. The Vikings’ 33.3% contribution to the new stadium is about in line with most other cities.

In many cases, county resources are the most often used public financing, rather than state money.

Here’s a rundown of how recent NFL stadiums were financed:

stadium_browns.jpg Cleveland Browns (1999)

Stadium cost: $290 million

Percentage of public funding: 74.7%

Cleveland recently refinanced $132 million in bonds. The city owns the stadium and leases it to the Browns for $250,000. The public financing was conducted through the sale of bonds.

stadiium_pittsburgh.jpg Pittsburgh Steelers (2001)

Stadium cost: $357.5 million

Percentage of public funding:78.7%

The stadium was funded as part of a package that also provided new facilities for the city’s hockey and baseball teams. A county hotel tax contributes about 10% of the annual financing cost of construction bonds. A 5% surcharge was added to tickets, a 1% wage tax was levied on players who don’t live in the city, the state provided matching funds.

stadium_denver.JPG Denver Broncos (2001)

Cost: $365 million

Percentage of public financing : 68.4%

A six-county sales tax of .1% that was used to build the baseball stadium for the Colorado Rockies was increased after the measure was approved by voters.

Percentage of pubic finacing: 72%

stadium_houston.jpg Houston Texans (2002)

Cost: $424 million

Percentage of public financing: 73%

The Houston City Council waived taxes on the stadium as part of a financing plan. Hotel occupancy and car rental taxes were earmarked for use by the sports authority, which also agreed to provide loans (at future taxpayer expense) to the team. A ticket tax (10%, not to exceed $2) and parking tax was also imposed.

stadium_philadelphia.jpg Philadelphia Eagles (2003)

Cost: $474 million

Percentage of public financing: 40%

The stadium is owned by the city.

stadium_phoenix1b.jpg Arizona Cardinals (2007)

Cost: $455 million

Percentage of public financing: 67.7%

$298.5 million of the tab is provided by the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority, s from taxes on hotel beds and rental cars. Each ticket has a $4.25 surcharge. The city of Glendale provided $9.5 million.

stadium_indianapolis.jpg Indianapolis Colts

Cost: $720 million

Percentage of public financing: 86%

Marion County hotel tax increases to 9 percent from 6 percent. This is on top of the 6 percent state sales tax. Marion County car rental tax doubled to 4 percent. The county doubled its food and beverage tax, to 2 percent. Neighboring suburban counties implemented 1 percent restaurant taxes. A surcharge on tickets was increased by 1 percent.

stadium_dallas_2.jpg Dallas Cowboys (2009)

Stadium cost: $1.2 billion

Percentage of public financing: 28.6%

The city of Arlington’s sales tax was raised by a half-cent, the hotel occupancy tax was raised by 2 percent and a car rental tax was increased by 5 percent. The NFL contributed $150 million towards the stadium.

stadium_meadowlands.jpg New York Jets/New York Giants (2010)

Stadium cost: $1.6 billion

Percentage of public financing: 0%

$300 million was provided by the NFL, under a program the league had to help teams build stadiums. The program no longer exists. The stadium will make the two franchises the most lucrative in football. Although public money was not specifically used, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is stuck with $100 million in debt on the old stadium. The stadium is built on public land.

A study commissioned by San Diego, which is considering a new stadium, claims that private investment has averaged 46% recently, compared to 35% prior to 2002.

  • Al

    It’s interesting to see how the stadium costs have quadrupled since 1999. Pretty much like my salary – or not.

  • Tax

    It’s amazing what we’re willing to raise taxes for. Stadiums, but, T-Paw says, “no new taxes for anything else, the poor be damned.”

  • I’m thinking the Dakotas need a professional sports team from their area.

  • Marci Hitz

    The cost of housing a professional sports team is five times more expensive now than 11 years ago? Did the housing market rise that much in the past 11 years?

  • kennedy

    The Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan was sold last fall for $583,000. It seats just over 80 thousand for football. It cost $55 million to build in 1975.

    30 years is a typical life expectancy for a stadium (see Texas Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium in addition to the above).

    10-12 home field football games per year (including preseason).

    $800 million for a new stadium in Minnesota.

    $52 million per year loan payment. Assuming 5% APR interest on a 30 year loan (which will pay off the stadium right when it becomes obsolete).

    4.2 million adults living in Minnesota.

    $12 per year per resident.

  • Tanya

    Let’s see.. We used tax dollars for the Guthrie and Mpls Convention Center.. But we shouldn’t use it for the Vikings.. Lots of rich people go to the Guthrie..

    How many of them said No tax dollars…

    We build things for people to use and come to the area… Arts, Sports, Recreation…

  • kennedy

    Does revenue from the Guthrie or the Convention Center go to a private interest as the Vikings benefit from a stadium?

  • Feed the Piggys

    Socialized costs, privatized profit. Everyone does well except for the taxpayers who have a giant, obsolete white elephant sitting in a parking lot desert in thirty years when the notes are paid off.