It’s the same old story, but taxpayers can’t seem to duck sports owners pining for new stadiums for their teams. Wealthy owners continue to use questionable tactics to extract tax money from fans for funding their “palaces.”
Their argument is always that a new stadium will increase tourism, which will increase sales, which will make everyone the requisite profit needed to pay back in spades the tax money spent up front. Unfortunately for the countless cities who have tried it, the bargain quickly turns into a boondoggle.
The state of Minnesota is the latest state to to push taxpayers into the publicly funded stadium trap. The state and the city of Minneapolis have thrown in almost $500 million, which is over 50 percent of the total cost of a stadium, for the Minnesota Vikings.
A previous NTUF study concluded that when public contributions represented over 50 percent of the costs, as is the case with the Vikings, the stadiums will be $65 million more expensive on average. Recently, the Vikings, the city, and their fans are finding NTUF’s finding to be all too real.
Now, Team officials say they will have to cut out certain amenities from the proposed stadium just weeks before the groundbreaking. “We only have $975 million in the budget, and there’s only so many things you can get under that number,” said Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley. Among the casualties of the soaring costs is a parking garage and escalators. The team is also imposing $2,500 personal seat licenses for three fourths of the stadium’s seats. Is this an attempt to get more taxpayer money, or just part of accessing contingency funds? We’ll have to wait and see. Surely taxpayers who are shelling out more than half the stadium’s cost will not shed a tear over this “problem.”
As was the case in Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Washington; taxpayer funded sports stadiums don’t solve local woes. Owners and politicians pitch these stadiums as a ‘short term cost, long term profit’ venture for fans. But for taxpayers there’s ‘short term cost, long term debt’.
Sources: Deadspin.com, Minneapolis Star Tribune, National Taxpayers Union Foundation