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Rand: Comparing cities and stadiums

  • October 21, 2011 - 7:01 AM

Talks regarding a new Vikings stadium are as serious as at any point we can remember. The debate can be sliced a lot of different ways, and we're not here to offer an opinion about right or wrong. Rather, we're here to shed a little light on the local sports stadium situation as it compares to other markets comparable to the Twin Cities in terms of pro sports saturation.

There are 12 markets right now that have at least one team in all four of the accepted four "major" sports leagues -- the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL. Atlanta used to have that status, but losing hockey to Winnipeg discards that market. Of those 12, three markets have multiple teams in at least one sport: New York/New Jersey, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. We're interested, then, in the nine four-sport markets with one team in each sport: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. After studying those nine, here are some thoughts, surprises (to us) and conclusions:

• We always thought the Twin Cities was odd, once Target Field was finished, in having all four teams playing in four different venues. Turns out that's not as strange as we thought. While the NBA and NHL teams in Boston, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. share buildings -- making each of them three-venue, four-sport markets -- the Twin Cities are joined by Detroit, Miami and Phoenix when it comes to having separate venues for all four teams. (Miami opens its new baseball stadium in 2012, and the Marlins will no longer share space with the Dolphins.)

• Mall of America Field, where the Vikings have played since 1982, is the oldest football venue of those nine markets. In fact, six of the other eight NFL stadiums in comparable markets opened in 2001 or later. The others? Sun Life Stadium in Miami (1987) and FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. (1997).

• If the Vikings get a new stadium, the Twin Cities -- assuming none of the other eight markets builds anything else first -- would be the only one of the nine markets to have three venues that opened in 2000 or later: Xcel Energy Center (2000), Target Field (2010) and the new Vikings stadium (201X). Six of the other eight markets, though, have opened three new venues since 1994. The only ones that haven't: Detroit, with the venerable Joe Louis Arena (1979) to go with newer baseball and football stadiums and Palace at Auburn Hills (1988) and Boston, with the outlier of Fenway Park (1912) joining newer football and basketball/hockey venues.

Translation: With a new Vikings stadium, we would arguably have among the nicest facilities in the U.S. when placed against comparable markets, but we wouldn't be way off the grid during comparisons. Again, though, we'll leave the argument of want vs. need to you.

MICHAEL RAND

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