Dome expects to lose $2M a year when Twins, U leave

  • Article by: AIMÉE BLANCHETTE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 4, 2009 - 8:21 AM

With the Twins and Gophers leaving, Dome officials say the facility will lose around $2 million each year.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission reviewed preliminary financial numbers Wednesday morning that show it will begin to lose an average of $2 million a year once the Twins and the Gophers have left the Metrodome for their new stadiums.

The people who run the Dome are looking to keep it viable -- mostly by cutting expenses.

"We're OK with a combination of reductions and the revenues we have from other events ... as long as the Vikings are still there," said Bill Lester, executive director of the commission.

But without professional football in the Dome, all the tractor pulls in the world wouldn't make up the cash flow difference, Lester said.

"Nothing pays the freight like the Vikings," he said. "You take that out and the Dome's no longer viable."

There aren't a lot of new events to fill the Metrodome's schedule, Lester said, but there's big demand for youth sports -- not just high school tournaments, but also youth league events.

During baseball season, however, the Dome could remain dark on many nights.

With the Twins and the Gophers gone, the Metrodome's revenue is projected to drop almost $5 million in 2010. The commission plans to cut expenses to make up for some of that revenue loss, said Mary Fox-Stroman, the commission's finance director. But the Dome's account balance is projected to drop nearly $3.4 million in 2010.

The commission also discussed what will happen when the Vikings' lease expires after the 2011 season. The commission and the Vikings are pushing for a new stadium on the Dome site.

"The Vikings aren't going to extend their use agreement in the existing facility. A reconstructed facility at the Metrodome site, they would [lease]," Lester said. "That's the overall objective."

Even if the Vikings were to stay in the existing Dome -- based on a preliminary budget that commissioners say needs more analysis -- the Dome's account balance could dip below its $6 million minimum in 2013. Lester said the commission will have to decide if that $6 million minimum, set in 2004, is still appropriate given the loss of the Twins and Gophers. Its estimated account balance at the end of 2008 was $16 million.

Commissioners also got a look at the effect the Metrodome's age will have on its budget. There are minimal maintenance and equipment expenses planned in 2010 and 2011, but if the Vikings decide to renew their contract, the commission would have to catch up on maintenance, equipment and repairs on the nearly 30-year-old building.

Aimée Blanchette • 612-673-1715

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