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Reality Check: The Price Tag On A Vikings Stadium

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77648_Pat Kessler WEB Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Consider this: The Minnesota Vikings say they’re at the bottom of the NFL in revenue.

The cost of a stadium is going up, and their 30-year Metrodome lease will expire. But the year is 2002. Daunte Culpepper is quarterback, throwing to Randy Moss at wide receiver.

But the argument today is only a little different.

“The construction costs are at the lowest they are now,” said Ted Mondale, the chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, at a state Senate hearing last week. “So every year you delay it’s going to cost a percent to the public another $46 million dollars.”

Here is what you need to know. An inflation rate of just four percent could about $44 million to the $1.1 billion price tag.

But building costs are not rising as fast as normal inflation, so it could be less. The proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills would be the most expensive construction project ever in the state of Minnesota.

That’s partly why even a little inflation raises the cost so much. In fact, construction spending is way down.

So far this year, it’s 2.9 percent below last year. And 2010 was among the worst years ever. Wages are also down, and worker unemployment is up. It’s less than half the activity economists consider healthy.

As the economy improves, the cost could rise quickly. A study by Mortenson Construction Company, which would likely build a new Vikings stadium if it is approved, estimates the added cost of delay between $34 million and $57 million based on the rate of recovery.

A similar risk analysis study by the Metropolitan Council came to a similar conclusion.

That’s not the whole story. Over the last 10 years, the 10-year price hike on a new stadium is jaw-dropping.

In 1997, a new Vikings’ stadium cost $250 million. In 2002, it was $258 million. In 2005, it was $675 million. That number grew to $954 million in 2008 and is now at $1.1 billion.

Here are some sources used for this reality check.
Mortenson Construction Letter
History Of Minnesota Stadium Debate
U.S. 2011 Government Construction Spending Report
Construction Spending Calculator
Metro Council Review: Stadium Risk Analysis
2002 Vikings Stadium Bill
Legislature Says Gophers Should Share With Vikings

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