Live-blogging Midmorning: The Vikings stadium

What percentage of a new stadium should the Vikings contribute?Market Research

Some new faces dominate the debate over whether the state should help build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. But the arguments probably sound familiar, as familiar as they did in the years leading up to the building of Target Field, the home of the Twins.

Today, MPR’s Midmorning is wading into the argument which likely will hit the Legislature within the next few weeks. Today’s guests are:

* Ted Mondale: Chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.

* Judith Grant Long: Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

* Neil deMause: Co-author of “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit.”

I’m live blogging the show and encouraging you to share your comments, the best and most insightful of which I’ll read on the air. (Hit F5 — refresh — to see the latest entries)

9:04 a.m. – Ted Mondale has come into the studio Kerri and he are discussing user fees and why the Vikings aren’t putting more money into the deal (there was no answer to that one).

9:07 a.m. – Kerri’s intro:

But we begin with the arguments for–and against–taxpayer contributions to a new Vikings Stadium. State lawmakers will have to balance an expiring Metrodome lease and threats that the Vikings will leave–Sound familiar???—with the inescapable truth of a $6.2 billion shortfall–and the political jujitsu that will require. So–how to justify taxpayer money for a new stadium in a time of budget austerity?

That’s one of the challenges for my in-studio guest today. Ted Mondale is the new Chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission and he is Governor Dayton’s point man on the stadium at the capitol. Welcome.

In a moment..Judith Grant Long will join us. She’s Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

A bit later…Neil DeMoss will join in. He is a journalist and author of: “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit.”

9:09 a.m. – The first question is the obvious one: How can the state pay for a stadium during economic times like this:

“It’s important we keep an NFL team in the Twin Cities,”Mondale said. He said if the Vikings leave, “it puts us on a list that makes us look like losers.”

9:10 a.m. – Mondale says Gov. Dayton says the public should get more out of a stadium than the state puts in. “It needs to be paid for as much as possible — if not totally — by user fees.

9:12 a.m. – But why don’t the Vikings put more into the stadium than they are. “I’m not here to negotiate with the Vikings on air,” Mondale said, “but there’s no doubt they’ll have to put more into it.” He says there’s little interest in the Vikings plan to pay only a third. “I’ve not met any legislators who are interested in that,” but says the Vikings aren’t negotiating because there’s no one to negotiate yet.

He says, though, that the Vikings won’t pay 100 percent of the stadium. He says other states “will pay anything” to have a pro sports team in town, but many of those cities have found that the return isn’t as high as they thought it would be. Other markets — Indianapolis for one — are seeing their teams put more money into the stadiums.

9:16 a.m. – Caller Mark: “I’m astounded at the state’s inability to drive a hard bargain with these owners. Taxpayers bought Target Field, but the owners got all the money from the naming rights.”

9:17 a.m. – Mondale: There will be very hard bargaining on this project… if there is a project.

9:20 a.m. – Judith Grant Long joins us now. She says economists have discovered that stadiums really don’t deliver new jobs and new taxes. Pro sports is less than one-tenth of one percent of theGDP. She says the new element of the argument is one that I’ve wondered why wasn’t pursued in the past — why make an economic argument? Why not make an argument that it’s nice to have an NFL team in town and debate whether that’s true?

9:25 a.m. – “There has to be more to that argument,” Mondale says. He says he’s meeting with business leaders this afternoon who will say “this is important to our area. This is about jobs.”

9:26 a.m. – Mondale says the stadium will create 2,000 jobs, “and that’s nothing to laugh at,” a rebuttal to the Harvard professor.

9:27 a.m. – Ten percent of the occupancy downtown derive from events that are Metrodome events, Mondale says. Judith Long says “this is very much the rhetoric we hear, to try to move arguments past hard economic numbers.” She says Mondale is trying his best to come up with numbers, which allows us to consider what might be a proper Vikings contribution. “The average deal in the U.S. in the last few years has been a 75-25, with private being the 25. She says that should be flipped.

9:30 a.m. – Caller notes the Wilfs will own a team of greater value when they sell the team. Will the team give some of that back to the state?

“In the (Twins) deal, there was an assessment of team value and a provision in the bill that when the team is sold, 25% of the price will go back to the public entities that contributed to the stadium,” Mondale said.

(Judith Long has been cut loose from the discussion)

9:32 a.m. — Mondale cites book “Major League Winners” that disputes the professor’s economic claims.

9:34 a.m. – Caller Peter says one side ignores math, the other doesn’t care about math. “The vitriol with which we refuse to subsidize the Mall of America is confounding.”

Mondale says that’s not true. “The next time you go to the Mall of America and look at the big garages, exit ramps, and highways, that was all public subsidies.”

9:36 a.m. – Mondale says Vikings aren’t going to put their cards on the table until there’s an actual bill. Lester Bagley of the Vikings says the team will likely add money to the original offer, as the Twins did after construction had already started (to build things that weren’t in the original design).

9:38 a.m. – This should be as much about user fees as possible, according to Mondale. He mentions lodging taxes, ticket taxes. But is a lodging tax really a user fee or just a tax on people who don’t vote here?

9:40 a.m. – Mondale: “This cannot be a debate between the Minnesota Vikings and schools; that should never happen.”

(Neil deMause has joined us)

9:41 a.m. – deMause says sports franchises “wear down” people with the arguments. “Teams just cycle through these arguments over and over again hoping one will stick,” he says.

“The Twins’ approach evolved from contraction, which wasn’t taken well, to a more collaborative approach. I don’t think there’s anybody pushing this bill at the Legislature or governor’s office who’s going to be put over a barrel by the Vikings,” Mondale says.

9:45 a.m. – deMause says the public should put some money in “because it’s not like there’s no pubic benefit,” it’s just much lower than what the teams have been getting in terms of subsidies.

9:46 a.m. – “The most important thing in looking at a potential deal, is what happened elsewhere. Almost every city that lost a team, paid more to get one back,” Mondale said. But he also says “this may not be doable in this economy.”

9:48 a.m. – Caller asks if there was much economic harm when the North Stars moved to Dallas. There doesn’t appear to be an answer, judging by the answer.

9:50 a.m. – Why not let the public vote? “Because it would lose,” the author says. The one exception is when teams outspend their opponents more than 100-to-1, then it is approved.

9:52 a.m. – Caller asks why the TCF Bank stadium can’t be upgraded for professional football?

“My understanding from the discussions we’ve had, both from the U of M and the Vikings is it doesn’t lose economically,” Mondale says. “The U isn’t excited about having the Vikings on campus for a long period of time.”

9:55 a.m. – deMause: “We’re building stadiums to get the subsidies, we’re not building new stadiums because we need new stadiums.”

Mondale: The Metrodome was funded by taxes and was paid off by the sale of Met Center. The governor is going to support a bill only if it the public benefit is greater than the money goes in there. For the fourth time in today’s show, he says it might not be possible.

He also says there’s been no discussion of a public vote?

“Would that be a good option?” Miller asks.

“Good try, Kerri,” Mondale says, ending today’s segment.

  • Tom

    All the arguments about how the economics favor public funding a Viking Stadium fall flat when you try to compare it to other economic investments.

    Anyone that argues a Viking Stadium construction will create a lot of jobs very quickly is showing how poorly prepared Minnesota is come up with an meaningful innovative solution for our economy.

  • Chuck Parins

    Minnesota needs to accomplish a staduim just like the Packers where the ticket holders have an investment through a license fee, just as the organization and the taxpayer have their portion of the responsibility. I personally have $7000 as a ticket holder with the GB Packers invested in the organization.

  • Thomas

    If the team does not finance the majority of the debt stadium, why is the team entitled to all of the revenues?

    Vancouver, Seattle recently lost pro sports teams? Are those cities now less livable? I don’t believe that is a supportable theory

  • Tom

    Ted Mondale is a boyhood friend of the NFL Commissioner Goodell.


  • Lee

    As long as their is legislation going forward to freeze teacher salaries for a minimum of two years, there should not be a dime of public money spent on a stadium. But if we feel like we must give a half-billion to some private company, why not Medtronic or 3M?

  • Mark

    Will the Vikings be required to open their books to the taxpayers they want to fund their stadium? We are being asked to essentially be the Vikings banker (financing the stadium), why shouldn’t we be entitled to see their finances? Isn’t that what a responsible banker would do?

  • Jody

    I liked the caller who raised the issue of “hard bargaining.”

    It’s hard to believe that Ted Mondale will engage in hard bargaining.

    As is typical with politicians taking the lead on stadium issues, his public position is as an advocate of the stadium.

    If he takes it as a given that the Vikings need pay a fractionof the cost, isn’t that giving away his negotiating position from the start?

  • Ted Neal

    You know what attracts smart people to a region?

    Good schools.

    You’re going to take money away from schools and give it to a sports owner.

    Gimme a break.

  • Jeff

    Seems that the Vikings are the only ones in position to “drive a hard bargain.” The reality is, if we don’t want to be watching the Los Angeles Vikings on Sunday, we’re going to have to build a stadium regardless of whether it makes economic sense to do so. Don’t think the timing of the LA naming rights agreement was a coincidence… To those “outstaters” who think they derive no benefit from a new stadium, I wonder what they’ll watch from their sofas Sunday afternoons. I don’t like having to hold my nose and do things, but sometimes that’s the way it is.

  • Mark

    Exploiting the genuine fears that people have about losing their jobs in order to build support for a publicly financed stadium which will not produce jobs, is reprehensible.

  • Tom

    Let’s remember that The “Minnesota” Vikings are a business, and are all too happy to take their business elsewhere. Yes, Minneapolis and the state gains from having a pro football team here, but not as much as the team themselves. This business that will be taking the vast majority of benefit from, not to mention revenues from, this new stadium should put up the VAST MAJORITY of the cash to build it.

  • Tom

    OK, Mondale. 10% of all revenues come from non-Vikings events? Fine, then we’ll put up 10% for the stadium.

  • todd

    Los Angeles has given up two NFL teams and shows only the most minimal desire to see the NFL return. There is no government monies available there either. Where would the Vikings go? The NFL doesn’t want to give up this television market. Minnesota is in the perfect position to call the Vikings’ bluff and make what happened in Dallas the new standard model for stadiums.

  • Tom




  • Sheryl

    Some ideas for a real peoples’ stadium that go beyond football and other games and “hard economics”

    A real high school connected as part of stadium. Think of the relationships with all aspects of stadium, teams, organizations. Lots of opportunities for learning.

    Make contract have certain commitments to the school.

  • Katherine

    I think that the Vikings’ owners and players with their exorbitant salaries should be paying for a new stadium that will mostly benefit themselves.

    Minnesota should not be paying for a football stadium when programs for the poor and under-privileged are being cut.

  • Mark

    The arguments against publicly financed stadiums are not outdated. Just review the scam that the Florida Marlins committed against Miami.

  • Factorial

    Thomas, yes Seattle and Vancouver did lose pro sports teams, but they were NBA teams. The Sonics and Grizzlies (In vancouver less that 11 years) didn’t have a true identity with the city, the Vikings have a rich history that spans several generations. To think that the Vikings leaving the Twin Cities won’t be felt is ignorant. Now, as far as to how to fund the new stadium–that’s an entirely different debate. I listen to sports talk radio and NPR/MPR–both groups of listeners have such extreme views, there is some middle ground to be found.

  • Jon

    In all of the graduate school seminars in which I have been enrolled over the last three years, none have made a compelling argument for stadiums as vital components of contemporary urbanism. Indeed, Richard Florida’s creative class theory argues against stadiums as a necessary part of city growth, as the people driving our economy these days are less interested in malls, stadiums, aquariums (the sort of devices used twenty-thirty years ago to generate urban growth).

    When we can stop talking about stadiums as a revenue-generating device and consider them more in the light of classical-era arenas, then stadiums have a debatable position. After all, when was the last time bread was handed-out to the poor at a Viking’s stadium?

  • Zach

    When will the politicians learn that the money they are playing with comes from the tax payers? They should remember to keep the interests of the people in mind not their own personal interests. Put the stadium to a vote and get the answer from the taxpayers who in the end will pay for it. Also if Mr. M. wants our State to be attractive lets clean up our streets and spend the money in more beneficial ways to help the citizens of the State of Minnesota.

  • Zach

    When will the politicians learn that the money they are playing with comes from the tax payers? They should remember to keep the interests of the people in mind not their own personal interests. Put the stadium to a vote and get the answer from the taxpayers who in the end will pay for it. Also if Mr. M. wants our State to be attractive lets clean up our streets and spend the money in more beneficial ways to help the citizens of the State of Minnesota.

  • Jack

    I am not a Vikings fan, but I did study history. The first decision that needs to be made is do Minnesotans want an NFL team or not. If so, the negotiations need to include the reality of what other cities are prepared to do to take the Vikings from Minnesota. We can crow all we want about tough negotiations but those who refuse to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Remember the Minneapolis Lakers and the Minnesota NorthStars? We lost those teams and had to pay much more later to attract an expansion team. The NFL will not be expanding so we would have to sweeten the deal even more to steal a team from another stadium.

    Do we want to have an NFL team or not?

  • Chris Tyler

    We keep making comparisons to the Twins Stadium. Do we anticipate another end-run around the state-required public vote on raising sales tax for a new stadium? That part of the Twins stadium funding seems truly unconscionable.

  • andy

    i don’t know why he keeps referring to the twins as a success. i’m not saying that target field had a poor showing in its inaugural season, but it’s been ONE YEAR. taxpayers still have decades left to pay on those bonds. let’s see how people feel in 5-10 years after some of the novelty has worn off and we’re still paying 2/3 of the bill. until then, i think it makes for a bad comparison when justifying a new vikings stadium. an inaugural season in a new stadium is not a fair basis for argument.

  • Jay Severance

    If a new stadium is a good financial investment, it should stand on its own merits and be funded by private investment. Perhaps season ticket holders, corporations, and persons with resources should be given the opportunity to invest in a stock offering with the returns being lease costs for the Vikings and other event receipts. The state, county and municipal entities could particpate by waiving taxes on the property for a number of years, other than direct costs associated with the facility (water, roads,police etc).

    Use Jerry Jones’ formula for financing the new Cowboys stadium…100% private.financing.

    No tax or other financing should be used, unless all other public infrastructure and educational needs are met and there is a budget surplus to fund public participation.

    And, finally, the State should immediately take action similar to the Cleveland browns, to sue for rights to the Vikings name should they be moved to another city

  • Todd

    Todd, obviously you are not up to your current events (Los Angeles held a press conference yesterday), this is no bluff. LA will have at least one team, if not two by 2015. I live in LA & Seattle, if the Vikes were to leave within 5 years the city will be trying to get a NFL team back. You and your NPR tunnel vision may not care, but the city will in time and by then it will be too late.

  • Monica

    Once again, the value of professional sports economically and culturally is overestimated to the extreme.

    Let’s call their bluff. Let the Vikings go. Then the state legislature and others can stop wasting their time and taxpayer money debating this inane issue that has very little relevance to the daily lives of the average Minnesotan.

    I voted for Mark Dayton, but am very disappointed that he has made this a priority.

  • Trent

    It makes no sense to spend over a billion dollars to play 10-13 games per year. If you figure that with pre-game activities, game time, etc. that a game consumes 8 hrs of active time, we’re looking to spend a billion dollars for 80-104 hrs of public entertainment a year. Who can argue this makes any sense?

  • Nikki

    These are short term, low wage jobs… Unless you talk about the players, but most don’t even live in Minnesota.

    Stadiums attract funds from outside the facilities neighborhood, but most of the money is dispearsed beyond the local area. Between 53-60% of total revenues of the NHL, MLB, NFL, & NBA go to the players as salaries and benefits.

    Was there really economic development around the Dome? Huberts anyone????

    The total attendance for Vikings games in a year, if games are sold out) 300K. The Hennepin Theatre Trust: 500K/year. They are a non profit and have more unique visits.

    According to a Strib Poll, just 48% of those polled said the subsidy for the Twins Stadium was worth it. Not even a majority…

  • RB


  • charles

    How about a joint commercial partnership?

    de-couple the Staium & team to satisfy the NFL ownership.

    Build the stadium with 1/3 owner, 1/3 public, 1/3 stocks.

    This give all a chance to win.

    the accounting deals may be the issue. These normally cost the states money.

  • ted

    Mondale quote “If the Vikings leave we are a “Looser town”.

    Does Mondale know that we are tied with Colorado /Denver Metro area for the smallest population to have all 4 pro teams?

    There are dozens of other other states / metro with larger and smaller populations that don’t have 4 pro teams.

    Are they ‘Loosers’ too?

  • todd “against”

    Todd “for”, Wow, that Associated Press release is incredibly underwhelming: anonymous sources, no comments from involved parties. Sorry for being cynical, but this is Don Beaver all over again. Los Angeles has its NFL boosters like any place does, but they are light-years away from an actual stadium and team.

  • Paul

    It’s unbelievable to me that if the reason to not do a referendum is that it would fail, legislators are considering it anyway. If everyone knows that the public would not vote for subsidies for a stadium, that should be the end of the discussion.

  • Gordy

    Do we need Ted Mondale (MSFC) in the first place. State funding? Cut the budget for (MSFC) first. If we need (MSFC), tax the sports teams to fund it.

  • Noelle

    I have a lot of trouble finding reasons to justify spending public money to build a facility that mostly benefits a privately held company. We don’t use taxpayer money to fund building new popular retail stores like Target – which likely benefit the areas they build in by attracting more foot traffic – so why should we do the same for the Vikings?

  • ted

    In December, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement upcoming rookie player salary contract dispute (CBA): ….”economic conditions have changed dramatically inside and outside the NFL since 2006 when we negotiated the last CBA. 10% unemployment hurts us all…unfortunately, economic conditions are forcing everyone to make tough choices and the NFL is no different”

    If Goodell can use the arguement ‘the economy is bad’ when he is trying to save money for the teams, why can’t the taxpayers use the same arguement?


  • bill

    Question for Mondale: Why is the dome roof repair plan is still undecided?

    Answer: He is “filibustering”. The longer the dome roof is laying on the playing surface the better the chances for a new Vikings stadium. Last April the dome roof inspection report stated that the roof has lasted 50% longer than expected and the MSFC should make plans to replace the entire roof. Now it is deflated with more holes in it. Does Mondale expect to get a recommendation to repair the existing roof? Of course not.

    The new roof is covered by insurance. We (Taxpayers) own it. FIX IT, RIGHT NOW !!

    Huge conflict of interest. The same guy who is responsibe for the overseeing the dome repairs is the Gov. Dayton’s main guy for a Vikings stadium

  • Thomas Shaw

    It seems unreasonable to give tax payer money to millionaires. A sports team is a business and businesses need investors. The team owners should find their own financing. The same point is being made by those on both sides of this issue – the stadium is too outdated to make money. If the owners want more money they should find the investors. Another option would be for the public to put in a share but to keep the revenue. The mayor of Minneapolis sold the city down the river on the Twins park. We should learn from this and say no to millionaires with their hands out when schools are forced to work with less staff, hospitals are stretched and the state historical society has to close historic sites. Anyone who wants to keep the team should buy a share and not rob those of us who receive no benefit from the team. Go to Wall Street and stop wasting the state government’s time.

  • John P.

    If the public would never vote for it, that should be the end of the discussion.

    What would be so horrible about not having an NFL team? There would still be football. According to my Dad, before the Vikings the Gophers were the big deal in town. Maybe with the increased support, the Gophers would return to the glory days of the early 60’s. Go Gophers!

  • mark

    They (Mondale & Vikings) have put together a real great comprehensive stadium proposal for the 2011 legislature to consider: No stadium design, No building site selected, No local partner, No financing plan.

    Great job Ted!!

    The State Capitol resembles a battlefield and our elected officials are preforming ‘Legislative Triage’ attempting to keep our state up and running while cutting budgets for necessary and essential services.

    It is unbelievable that we are even thinking about a Vikings Stadium!!

  • Barb

    Mondale didn’t talk about ‘Racino’ funding. That seems odd? A few weeks ago Mondale stated that 30% of ‘Racino’ profits would cover the cost of the new stadium.

    The word ‘Racino’ was not mentioned once today!

    Two weeks ago (with TV cameras rolling), Senator Rosen (sponsor of yet to be introduced Vikings Stadium bill) said that her bill will combine the Vikings Stadium and ‘Racino’.

    Hummmm. Sounds like trouble in paradise.

  • Leo

    Earth calling Ted Mondale.

    You talked about how great it is for the hotels, eating & drinking establishments to have events like the Big 10 preseason baseball games.

    How well is that going to work with an open-air football stadium in Arden Hills in the middle of winter???

    Just curious

  • Richard

    I agree with earlier post by Todd. Lets call the Vikings bluff. They won’t leave. Zygi said that his team won’t return to the dome. Good. Lets put padlock on the dome doors every Sunday. Let ’em play at Loring Park.

  • Hugh

    A little late to the party, but I was listening to the debate this morning at work and was incensed. I recall the huge debate surrounding the building of a new stadium for the Twins… then one-day, there’s a full page in the Star Tribune… “Here’s a mock-up of your new stadium!” “Who voted for that!!!”, I remember asking myself. I was as pissed then as I am now and here we are again. In light of all the current economic problems our state is facing, I can’t even believe our legislators are even discussing this. I too voted for Mark Dayton, but I’m really starting to regret my pick. Let’s put it to a referendum, it’s as simple as that. Let the people “really” vote on it this time.

  • Chris P

    Late candid response:

    Bottom line, $1 billion dollars injected directly into bleeding-edge, tech research like nanotechnology (don’t let us down on this one, Dayton) would put us in a position to buy a stadium for cash in 10 years.

    However, squabbling over liquor licenses to shift bar crowds from one part of downtown to the other while patronizing the buzz for local “restauranteurs” seems to be the standard, predictable justification used in these types of debates.

    Perhaps insisting that the Vikings pray to the Norse Gods for private funding and equity sponsorship (The 3M Nanotech Colosseum?) seems a better option. How many more times do we need to shake down the tax payers for money that should be used for blazing Minnesota’s new trail towards clean tech, education reform and health care overhaul? I mean, can we really afford another victory lap on our broken road(s)?

    Lastly, it should be noted that Minnesota ranks 7th (2011) as the state with most Fortune 500 companies in the U.S., and it is hard to believe that the Vikings are going to change that.

  • John O

    Ted is setting himself up to be hero or goat.

    I’m leaning goat.

  • mc

    Build it @ the Mall of America and make it an entertainmetn complex…multiuse; close to the Airport, Hotels and rail! Makes sense and could create lots of shared uses…

  • Steve Rohlfing

    Why not sell these projects in (2) pieces, there are the basics that are required to play football. A cost could certainly be arrived at. Figure out a percentage of public monies to be allocated for this part of the project, private investment would cover the rest ( maybe the public money covers the core and shell and mechanical systems kind of thing, and some basic level of finishes. The private money covers any upgrade the team might desire). Then the second part of the equation would be the premium functions or revenue generating areas. If the team gets all of the profits, then they pay for the design and construction of these items. If there is to be shared revenue with the public entity, then a shared cost can be figured out, based on the shared revenue agreement…

  • Mike Smith

    The Brookdale location seems to be perfect site to build a new Viking stadium. It has multiple freeways access and plenty parking space for the event and not far from Minneapolis.

  • lihong cao

    I support the new vikings stadium in Arden Hills and willing to pay a little more tax for it.