ESPN is seeking up to $1 million in annual subsidies to extend its contract to hold the X Games in Minneapolis through 2020.
U.S. Bank Stadium is slated to host the event in 2017 and 2018, but officials at Meet Minneapolis are already looking to lock it in for 2019 and 2020.
“ESPN has indicated that if we are able to commit to the same financial offer for 2019 and 2020 as we have for 2017 and 2018, we stand a very strong chance of being selected,” Meet Minneapolis President Melvin Tennant wrote in an e-mail this week to the convention and visitors bureau’s executive committee.
The X Games are one of several major events that U.S. Bank Stadium has attracted since it opened, including the 2018 Super Bowl and 2019 Final Four. But more local subsidies for a deep-pocketed business like ESPN will be a tough sell at City Hall.
Last year, the City Council docked its contribution to the Meet Minneapolis budget by $250,000. In addition, ongoing revelations about the management of U.S. Bank Stadium have cast a shadow over public investment in sports events.
The four-day X Games feature skateboarding, BMX and Moto X competitions, plus music and cultural activities. It kicks off this summer in Minneapolis on July 13. The 2019 dates would be the first four days of August, and the 2020 dates are in mid-July.
Tennant asked the executive committee for “approval to move forward with investigating” a deal.
The terms ESPN wants are another lease with U.S. Bank Stadium including food and beverage and expense credits of $200,000 per year, a $75,000 per year subsidy from Meet Minneapolis, up to a $500,000 per year subsidy in cash or in-kind support from the city of Minneapolis, and up to $200,000 in grants from Explore Minnesota.
Jenn Hathaway, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said “we’ve been working closely with the ESPN team to prepare for the 2017 X Games and look forward to any potential opportunities in the future where Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium may host them again.”
The X Games, according to Tennant, generate an estimated economic impact of $42.1 million and $1.8 million in local tax revenue and 26,000 hotel room bookings.
For the past two years, the X Games were held in Austin, Texas. The games have an average daily attendance of 45,000.