Wells Fargo economists Mark Vitner and Michael Wolf write a monthly Minnesota Outlook that is generally a good summary of how the state economy is doing.
They talk specifics about jobs and industries, and they clearly do some of their own analysis. It’s useful stuff, which is hard to come by at the state level, and it's worth reading.
But I had to take issue with one section of the December report, where Vitner and Wolf suggest that the new Vikings stadium will be a boon for the real estate development market around the stadium.
This project will provide a much-needed boost to real estate development. Very little construction has come on line recently in the Minneapolis area as vacancy rates remain elevated slightly above the national rate.
The argument here is that vacancy is up, and more real estate development will...help that. This seems a little backward. When vacancy is elevated, even a little, isn’t it kind of a bad idea to build a bunch of new stuff?
Unless the project is transformative enough to create new demand on its own (say, maybe, it becomes the Central Park of Minneapolis), it’s just spreading thinner an already thin level of demand for downtown real estate. And the track record of football stadiums as economically transformative projects is not great.
I pressed Vitner on this by email, and he admitted that maybe they are "a bit optimistic" about the stadium. But still, the construction there "could get the ball rolling."
Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, left, and Governor Mark Dayton shovel dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony outside the Metordome in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, as the team paves the way for a new home. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune)