The Minnesota Twins got a new stadium, so why can’t we build one for the Minnesota Vikings? It’s not fair, but the truth of the matter is that we never should have financed the Twins stadium; so we certainly should not finance a Vikings stadium. Each time the state agrees to finance a stadium for a professional team, the state raises taxes to finance it. The deal is generally sold to politicians with the pitch that it will create jobs. This too is a fallacy of sorts. Anything created as a result of the stadium deal could also be derived from a private stadium venture that involves no taxpayer dollars. Additionally, the prime real estate used for the Twins stadium could have been used for some other purpose to create jobs and tax revenues for the state. Truthfully, the only people who benefit from a stadium deal financed by taxes are the team owners.
It is true that we may lose the Minnesota Vikings to another state if we don’t give them a new stadium. This is the same threat made by all other professional teams who play sports in Minnesota. You may be surprised to learn that my objection to a stadium deal is not inspired by Minnesota’s looming budget deficit. This is because the deficit really has little to do with the financing of a new stadium since such a deal is historically financed by sales tax increases on county and state residents and tourists. For this reason, a stadium deal has little to no effect on the state budget. It will impact our individual household budgets instead. Even during good economic times, it is not good practice for state legislators to give a stadium to wealthy team owners who could better afford to finance a stadium than taxpayers can. If, for argument sake, Zygi Wilf could not finance a new stadium without help from others, there are other private investors such as venture capitalists who would jump at the opportunity. The only reason not to go this route is that he would have to share ownership of the stadium and its revenues with others. Why do that when the state will build it for you with no strings attached.
So, what is the fallacy? The stadium will certainly create jobs, but it will create no more jobs than any other industry related construction projects. Building a stadium trades one future job for another. The same is true for tax revenues. Taxes raised from revenues generated by a stadium could also be raised from retail shops and any other industry for that matter. What’s not fair about building a stadium for a professional team is paying for it with hard earned taxpayer wages.