A Stadium for the People
August 15, 2003
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis is one of the only metropolitan stadiums in the United States run for the benefit of the public, not the teams who play there, says the Wall Street Journal.
When the Metrodome was first proposed in the late 1970s, residents supported the idea but wanted taxpayers costs kept to a minimum. A short-lived hotel and entertainment tax ended two years after the stadium opened, and no tax subsidy has been used to finance the Metrodome since:
- The construction debt on the Metrodome, which cost $88.5 million to build, was repaid by 1998, mostly with money from the sale of the land where the city's former Metropolitan Stadium stood before being demolished.
- The Metrodome costs only about $12 million annually to run.
- The Minnesota Vikings, for example, only receive 10 percent of the gross concession sales -- the worst deal in the National Football League.
- The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission gets the rest to run the stadium.
Critics say that although taxpayers got a good deal on the Metrodome, the stadium is now largely out-of-date and three teams -- the Twins, the Vikings, and the University of Minnesota's football team -- want new facilities.
The "fiscally conservative" Metrodome model is quickly being eclipsed by the current model of financing construction of new stadiums through tax revenue and other public sources, allowing teams to take in the revenue from the facility.
One possible alternative was proposed in a 2002 "stadium bill" that the Minnesota legislature passed: a new Twins ballpark financed by " team contributions" and local taxes.
Source: Burl Gilyard, "A Stadium That Showcases Fiscal Responsibility," Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2003.
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