Minnesotans are tired of building new stadiums. They should be. There was a time (albeit just one year a generation ago) when the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Gophers football team all played in the Metrodome. Each of them now either has or is building its own stadium. The Wild has its own building, whereas in a lot of markets the NBA and NHL teams share an arena.
We are a combination of overbuilt and overspent, with palaces such as Xcel Energy Center, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium and the new Vikings stadium — not to mention a new ballpark for the Saints — eating up more than a combined $1 billion in public funding alone (more than was spent on the private contributions). This doesn’t even include renovations to Target Center.
If everyone had it to do all over again (everyone but the teams feasting on the profits, that is), we probably would have done it differently. It’s unnecessary to spend gobs of money on two pro arenas for hockey and basketball when one really would do. It’s a little crazy, even though the audiences are slightly different, to construct two huge new football stadiums so close together in both proximity and timing.
The same could be said, we suppose, for the notion of now considering building one more stadium: an open-air Major League Soccer facility near Target Field and Target Center. The new Vikings stadium can be configured for soccer. It wouldn’t be as good of a gameday experience, but it would work. Should we always have to have the best?
In general, no. But in this case … it adds up. An ownership group led by Bill McGuire was awarded an MLS expansion franchise. That group is willing to pay the $100 million expansion fee and almost all of the $150 million cost associated with the stadium. The group wants some tax relief. That’s about it.
It’s drop-in-the-bucket stuff compared to every other stadium we’ve built, and it’s in line with standard operating procedure for a lot of new businesses coming into an area.
The United group had a keen sense of its bad timing and came in with a plan that is more than just palatable. It’s fair. It might even be a good deal for the state and city, something that is rare. Their bad timing shouldn’t diminish a good plan.
That story linked above, by the way, includes perhaps the greatest single user comment in Startribune.com history from someone with the moniker cutthebull:
So far the comments are falling into a few predictable groups:
1. Those who dislike/hate/feel threatened by soccer, and have a kneejerk reaction every time it is mentioned. (These are the people who love to bring up the Kicks, Strikers, et al. And crickets – obsessed with crickets for some reason.)
2. Those who love soccer and have a kneejerk reaction every time it is mentioned. (These are the “most popular game on the planet” people who like to pooh-pooh American football as a dying sport played by Neanderthals.)
3. Those who are tired of stadium discussions and/or sports in general and have a kneejerk reaction every time they are mentioned.
4. Those who are suspicious of wealthy people and have a kneejerk reaction every time they are mentioned.
5. Those (like me) who have no real dog in the fight one way or the other, but who realize this isn’t a bad deal. If a private business owner was going to pony up $150-250 MM to redevelop an underutilized/blighted part of town and put in a call center or insurance offices or a Target or a widget factory, the $3 MM in misc. tax breaks would be a no-brainer. Most of the opposition comes from people in groups 1-4.
Well-said. Even if you don’t like soccer, rich people or stadiums, it’s hard for a reasonable person to find much wrong with this plan.
You can sense when reading between the lines that our politicians understand this as well. They have to hedge their bets and try to take semi-tough stances because they know what the stadium climate is, but at the end of the day they will build it because they realize two things: this will be the last stadium request for a long time, and it’s (by far) the best deal of the bunch.