Vikings stadium deal: "Preferable to being mugged and run over"

Categories: Economy

In recent years, few journalists have followed pro sports stadium shenanigans more closely than Neil deMause, co-author of the acclaimed Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit and proprietor of the fieldofschemes.com website. City Pages contacted deMause this afternoon to get his response to Viking owner Zygi Wilf's proposal to build a $675 million retractable roof stadium/shopping complex in Blaine; as described in press reports, approximatley $400 million of that considerable sum will come from public sources. deMause has posted here and here on the subject, but CP had a couple more questions.

CP: In your estimation, how does this arrangement compare with other recent NFL stadium deals?

deMause: Well, it's better than the Indianapolis Colts deal, but that's like saying being mugged is preferable to being mugged and then being run over. And it's certainly worse than deals like the Redskins or the Patriots, where the public's costs were limited to land and infrastructure.

One problem in evaluating stadium subsidies is that it's increasingly hard to do so without taking into account the lease provisions: Will the public get a share of revenues, will the team pay rent, will it pay property tax, etc.? If Zygi offers some of these goodies it'd take the sting out of the public subsidies, but somehow I doubt that'll happen.

CP: What is the history of cost over runs in NFL stadiums? Do the figures that are floated at the outset generally come close to the final tab?

deMause: Well, they never come in *below* budget. I don't have a chart handy, but I'd say cost overruns of anywhere between 0% and 33% are fairly typical.

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