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Reality Check: The Cost Of The Mpls. Super Bowl

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s 2018 Super Bowl bid committee promised more than a great party.

The state pledged to pick up a super tab, too. We may never know all of the details about Minnesota’s Super Bowl bid.

Under state law, it’s private.

But we do know the state’s top political leaders made a pledge to the multi-billion dollar NFL that it won’t have to pay sales taxes on Super Bowl tickets or related events.

That’s a $9-million cost to taxpayers.

And private donors may be asked to pay the game-day state income taxes of players and staff.

Michele Kelm-Helgen is a member of the Minnesota Super Bowl Bid Committee and chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing construction of the new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis.

“The other pieces the legislative leaders said they can go ahead with – tickets to the game – are already in statute,” Kelm-Helgen said. “And then the income-tax piece will be done through fundraising from the private sector.”

How that would work is unknown.

Most states, including Minnesota, levy a tax on the incomes of professional athletes whenever they come to town, and players often must file dozens of different state income tax returns.

And Myron Frans, Minnesota’s Revenue Commissioner, says paying someone else’s taxes with private funds is legal.

Other significant public costs are also still unclear.

Millions of dollars in security-related expenses could also be covered privately, according to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

“We know there is going to be some incremental cost but there’s a host committee that’s doing private fundraising to pay those incremental costs,” Hodges said. “So to the taxpayer, there should be no cost.”

Security expenses for the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey topped $5 million, with much of it covered by federal grants.

Costs were as high as $2.3 million for police equipment and $600,000 for overtime, and all the way down to $22,000 for bathroom trailers and $15,000 for boxed lunches.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

Player Income Taxes in 2014 Super Bowl

Congress and the NFL: Non Profit?

Public Stadiums and the NFL Super Bowl – 1

Public Stadiums and the NFL Super Bowl – 2

Security Expenses for 2014 Super Bowl – 1

Security Expenses for 2014 Super Bowl – 2

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