Reality Check: The Price Tag On A Vikings Stadium

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

More from Pat Kessler
  • Arthur Bork

    Consider this: Pro Sports teams are now trying to hold us all hostage until we give them what they want. It a place of BUSINESS for the use of a PRIVATELY OWNED BUSINESS. They need to pay their own way, the same as all other PRIVATELY OWNED businesses.

    • Tom F

      Consider this: From the income taxes collected by the Players and coaches, and the people that work for the vikings organization, the amount of money the state has to put in would be paid back within 20 years. If we lose the team and all of the money and jobs it creates, we would also lose this income taxes that the state collects. No one is looking at this fact, when it comes to the state (and national) governments spending, everyone wants a quick payoff, where we get all of the benefit (i.e. income tax revenue) without investing. Zygi can take the team anywhere and not only are we out a team that has steadily sold out every game, (which the state also collects sales tax on those tickets, and sales tax on all items and food sold at games and events).
      When most people buy houses they get a 30 year fixed loan, think of this the same way but paying itself off within 20, and the state getting revenue after that. And the loan is more like 10 years when you add in all of the extra taxes being charged.

      • sick of it all

        Tom F and all others who are so gung ho to commit to this atrocity…
        Consider This: When I worked at the Arsenal in the late 70’s as part of the maintenance crew, we were needed at many of the buildings from time to time, but there were several locations within the TCAAP that Everybody were absolutely Forbade to enter on account of the SEVERE CANCER CAUSING POLLUTION which permeated the facility. Further consider that when building demolition begins for clearing the site for any new construction, Plus the grading/leveling of the earth, in preparation for constructing Anything within the perimeter of this tract of land, the tainted dust will become airborne and communities around the area will become casualties of the huge coverup perpetrated since TCAAP began operations so many decades ago.
        So, when calculating all of the money saved by jumping into this fiasco, CONSIDER the money lost due to the health altering consequences caused by the literal fallout, beginning this, yet another money pit we Minnesotans are being led to, to throw our cash down into.
        The majority of citizens in this state have absolutely no idea (myself included) the sheer volume of pollutants contaminating this munitions making facility which has been operating since the 1940’s, such as arsenic cadmium lead trichlorethene and who knows whatever other manufacturing created health hazards, that still lie buried on these grounds…we may as well be leading people into gas chambers, for all the death waiting to be unleashed upon us there.
        It would be in all our interest for the federal government to sustain the full cost of cleanup, and not charge Minnesota one red cent for for the transfer of ownership of the property in Arden Hills.

    • jackactionhero

      So the stadium WON’T belong to the state of Minnesota?

      It WON’T be used for other events like concerts, Superbowls, truck pulls, etc?

      Talk about ignorant. You don’t even know the situation, so why did you bother commenting at all?

      • So says our perpetual village idiot.

        You have the brain of a small gnat and the mouth of a large whale.

    • Chris Says

      Couldn’t agree more. Sure it will create jobs but would any other privately owned company building a new facility. Would we even consider using this much public money to build new target stores? I think not.

  • Dave

    What’s a price ‘tage’? Doesn’t anybody proofread?

  • ryan

    Is it any surprise there’s no discussion about how much the team pays vs. the state of MN? Thats a pretty big issue – yet, its not part of a Vikings reality check?


  • ding, ding, ding ... wake up

    And just why is this going to cost THE PUBLIC $46 million for every year of delay? THE PUBLIC doesn’t want this GD thing. This is yet another reason Zygi can pay for the whole kit and caboodle – this is HIS safari, not THE PUBLIC’S.

    Zygi and his cronies are plotting again … putting together yet another spin on a way to con us out of a __tt load of money for his personal financial gain. It’ll be tagged as using no public funds but it will, you can count on it. It will cost the taxpayers if our illustrious legislatures don’t come to their senses and realize we’re all being conned by the master himself.

    For those who cry about all the lost revenue if the Vikings leave … good gawd people, go back and read the news. The net revenue is less than $5 million a year!!! That won’t even cover fixing the pot holes in the county.

    NO MONEY for Zygi – he can afford to fund this himself.

    • jackactionhero

      Actually the public does.

      And why would Zygi Wilf by a stadium for Minnesota that he wouldn’t even own?

      Please explain.

      • Guy

        If he pays for it; he CAN own it – every last sold-gold gole-post and diamond-studded locker in the locker room…

        If it’s such a great deal; then he shouldn’t mind making so much money on it – now should he?

  • Greg

    Minnesota tax payers have no need to spend $700,000,000 on any sports team. Just think how much $700,000,000 of health insurance could buy for Minnesota citizens.
    We build the stadium and the team doubles in value. The owner makes out like a bandit.
    I sure can tell this WCCO video is pro stadium.

    • Minnesota is not so nice

      Greg, you are missing or purposely ignoring the fact that the vikings generate revenue for the state of Minnesota right now, long term tax revenue. Think of all the taxes on tickets, food, jobs, parking, police, garbage, water, beer, … What you are looknig at is a one time payout of 700,000,000 that could go to a one time usage of healing some sick people that will heal on their own anyway, versus all that tax money going away forever. That is currently money we get in every year from the players, team, servers, … you name it they all pay taxes, but if the team leaves, we lose all that tax revenue, forever. The dome according to Ted Monday generated 5 times what the tax investment was to build it. I doubt a monstrousity like they want to build in Arden Hills will ever do that, but it very well should pay for itself and give the twin cities one more grerat venue to enjoy concerts, football games, high school sports tournaments, …

    • Justin

      I’d rather my 700 million go to the stadium than pay to heal the sores you get from sitting on your on the couch all day long

      • Justin

        *sitting on the couch*

        • Prove it

          And of course you have some proof that this is what he does, right?

          A comment written as fact, without proof, is worthless..

  • George

    I bet if the Vikings were owned by Mr. Shulze of Best buy, lets say for example- There would be alot less of this negativity for the stadium for he is a in-state owner and, his company provides alot of employment and tax revenue to the state. And that would be more political correct for legislators and the public to swallow.

    • Minnesota is not so nice

      George, like all the IT jobs Mr. Shulze outsourced? Well paying jobs that left this state to never return.

      • Government is not nice

        They likely left because of the amount of regulation, costs, and taxes that are imposed on them in MN. Unless society stops villifying the corporations that provide jobs to citizens and fund ALL government spending, there is going to be less tax revenue to support redistribution programs. Liberals better figure this out pretty soon. But keep blaming big corporations for everything that is wrong with your life.

  • Kazperz

    I dont go to Vikings game, use the facilities, what not, but this stadium is needed because what most of u cant see in the outside factors. You ever go downtown on a sunday cant find a place to park why, cars for the game there by the thousands of them all paying (state revenue), how bout all the eateries all over the state that people go to for the games (state tax revue) the hotels that hundreds of out staters that come to the cites need to stay at ( state tax revue). Liqour tax at the game and outside of the game. The light rail usage helps pay for all the other projects including the central corridor, Families that make weekend getaways to here around the vikings and i know many many families that do for 3 hrs away, go to MOA, science museum, etc. All i’m saying is its more then black and white and once and for all the stadium is 100 percent state owned so you can include the state high school events, the outside events, monster trucks, showcases college sports, trade shows, a venue with acustic to acaully hold a concert that doesnt sound terrible. and all those people coming to those need amenidies to. So you throw money at education and welfare, and health Insurance. with no revenue coming back and when all that money is tapped and you have so sourse to help replenish it say hello to higher taxes and u can complaint some more. That is why the issue will not go away because thankful it looks like they can see farther ahead of themselves then most of you

    • Tom

      Reasonable comment, but only if the stadium is built in or near downtown. The infrastucture is not there for a stadium in Arden Hills so that would be an added expense for the taxpayers . Mass transit doesn’t exist in Arden Hills and the Vikings have said they want more tailgaiting so I assume that would be more drunk drivers on the road. The Vikings have pushed that we need a new stadium for things like High School playoffs. We allready have that facility in the Metro Dome so why should we pay for a new one. I live in Minnesota, but it’s about 200 miles to get to the Twin Cities so I really don’t see how a new stadium will benefit those in northern MN

      • jackactionhero

        No, we don’t have that facility in the Metrodome. It is the oldest, most outdated facility in the country. Why is that ok for you? Minnesota doesn’t deserve a modern one like the rest of the major cities? Why not?

        • Guy

          So the ‘dome is older & more outdated than … oh – lets say LAMBEAU FIELD?

          That must explain why the Vikes are doing so much worse than the Pack.

          • jackactionhero

            Yes, the Dome is more outdated than Lambeau. Try to keep up.

        • desert eagle .50

          JAH, actually you are the oldest most outdated facility in the country.

          Please be specific.



  • Ray

    OK “Lower Property Taxes”…. idiot that you are…. if the Vikings leave, your taxes will BE RAISED. Don’t you get it? Minnesota will have to make up the loss of revenue somewhere. POOF

    • Ahhhh, the insanity of it ...

      No, don’t YOU get it? The NET revenue brought in by the Vikings is a grain of sand on the beach.

      The single biggest problem with funding a stadium is that the public has no business paying for a facility who’s primary financial beneficiary is an individual. You wouldn’t even CONSIDER such a proposal from any other privately owned business.

      Next, do you think money falls out of the sky? Zygi wants what will end up being at least 3/4 of a billion dollars, somebody wants $300K to renovate the state capitol, Minneapolis wants $2 billion to make Nicollet Mall pretty, the St. Paul Saints want a stadium, they want to renovate Target Center, and on and on and on. Where in God’s name do you think all that money is going to come from???

      MN doesn’t need to lead the nation in building the most expensive stadium in history – that’s incredible stupidity and the epitome of wasteful spending.

      Look around you … look all around the world. The world economy … and the world economic outlook … isn’t exactly at a high point right now or in the foreseeable future. Despite the spin we’re given by the administration and people like Zygi Wilf, we cannot spend our way to prosperity – it doesn’t work that way. Somewhere along the line somebody has to pay for it! Gee, does that come as a surprise to you?

      We need to be in belt tightening mode here, not purchasing luxury items that we don’t need. The Vikings are an ultra-expensive luxury item that we don’t need.

      If you want to support the Vikings’ new stadium, send your check straight to Zygi and buy season tickets.

      • dan

        Ray’s valid argument is simply stating that letting the Vikings go will not reduce property taxes.
        Glad to see you are a Republican in “we cannot spend our way to prosperity” theory.

        Newt in 2012

  • red

    the location in Arden Hills that they propose to build on is polluted

    • dan

      Sounds like a great time to clean it up before it leaks into the ground water and create even more issues.

  • Drop Kick

    Dan, To late it’s already in the ground water. That money is better spent repairing the State Capitol Building.

  • MrBB

    Build it, build it, build it……………………

    • me

      Vikes – Go AWAY. GO AWAY, GO AWAY!!!

      See – I can repeat it 3 times too

  • BF

    I posted my comment in support of the new stadium. For some reason it did not post??? Lets look at the amount of money the state will lose if the Vikes leave. Really look. We should be hearing all of the facts, not just a biased view that we are getting. I know there is alot of opposition to this but the current economy will be stimulated, it will create permanent jobs as well as temporary ones. This will also keep employed folks employed and stop some layoffs. The layoffs and business closings will happen in just a matter of time if they leave. Lets look at the big picture and not just the “projected” cost of this project. ALL OF THE FACTS PLEASE!!

  • louis

    Let’s at least admit that even the stadium’s supporters have no defense left but the lame idea that handing Wilf half a billion dollars is good for the economy. This idea is favored by the same ppl. who think with 9% unemployment and 1% growth, rich ppl are “job creators”. (Hint: if there aren’t any jobs- there can’t be any job creators. get it? there’s a relationship.) They are also ppl who think they have more money if they buy something on sale than if they save the money.
    Their problem is that they have been telling you how much they hate government spending- and the first thing they want to do is spend half a billion dollars on the Vikiings- the very first thing. They’re inventing economic arguments why giving someone money leaves you with more money because they would gag on their hypocrisy if they faced it head-on.
    Please learn from this: Nobody wants to spend less money- nobody. People just want to spend it on different things.
    So Vikings fans- be men and admit it. You’d rather spend money on a stadium than schools or medical care for the needy. Just man up and admit it. But please don’t walk me through daisey chains about what an economic bonanza football is. All these rust belt Great Lakes armpits of the rustbelt have football- LA and Las Vegas do not. I guess Vegas and LAare really jealous of Cleveland and Baltimore- aren’t they? How can they hope to make it without football- right? Football doesn’t do jack squat for anybody.

    • jackactionhero

      Actually, we already ARE spending money on schools and medical care for the needy.

      Who told you we weren’t?

  • Oly

    Lets get the vikings out of MN. I am sick of hearing about this stupid stadium talk. The chokekings should have left years ago

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