Vikings Stadium Update


Ford Field -- Detroit, MI

With only three weeks left in the Minnesota Legislative session, we were promised details of a Vikings bill sometime soon. Given the late date, extra-ordinary parliamentary procedures will be needed to get a Vikings bill on the floor of the Senate and House for a vote. The public has not seen any bill details whatsoever. There has been no public debate. As a reminder, 4 years ago when the Twins ballpark bill was approved, the details of the financing plan had been made public for 13 months, there were numerous public hearings about the details and anyone who was interested knew how the ballpark would be financed. Just sayin'.

My prediction is that there won't be a Vikings stadium bill this year, it's too late. However the work that is being done and the bill promised will set the groundwork for a bill next year. That way we will have the 13 month review process, public airings, etc, that the Twins bill was afforded.

Right now the Vikings are publically promoting a $670M open air stadium. The Vikings have said that they would pay for 1/3 of the cost. Also a retractable roof is projected to cost another $200M and the Vikings have stated that they wouldn't pay for that as a roof would be a state resource, and unneeded for the Vikings. But why do we need a retractable roof? A movable roof, while kind of cool, is a lot more expensive than a fixed roof, and given the record of retractable roofs in baseball and football, the roof is usually closed unless there is absolutely glorious weather. Plus a retractable roof takes up more real estate.

Below is a chart of some recently built stadiums, including roof, year built, and cost. Now of course different stadiums have different amenities attached and inflation on half-billion projects adds up fast, but still it is interesting:

Dallas - 2009, Retractable Roof, $1.3B
Indianapolis - 2008, Retractable Roof, $720M
Arizona - 2006, Retractable Roof, $455M
Detroit - 2002, Fixed Roof, $430M
Seattle - 2002, No Roof, $430M
Houston - 2002, Retractable Roof, $352M

The last two stadiums in Dallas and Indianapolis were a lot more expensive than the previous stadiums. Now the Dallas stadium is huge and has many amenities but I think the Indianapolis stadium is a good benchmark. Compare that to the fixed roof stadium in Detroit. Granted it opened 6 years earlier, but inflation was relatively modest during this time period. Ford Field in Detroit has been give relatively good reviews. Why can't we build something like that for around $600M? See if we can get the Wilf's to pitch in 250M and that leaves "only" $350M to raise publically. That's similar to what the Twins got from the public and is easily digestible.

What do you think?

Here's a pretty good article from the SPP. Based on this article I don't see a Vikings bill happening this session. Not enough details worked out and too little time.


I would be a lot more fine with that than anything I've heard out of the Vikings camp so far.

If they want a $700M stadium, they can come up with $350M of it. If they are dead set on only pitching in $250M, they can figure out what they can build for $500M.

Free - I agree 100% that a Vikings stadium should be either open air or fixed-roof. The extra cost for a retractable roof is unnecessary for a stadium that would be used for around 10 NFL games.

Another point - Bill Lester from the Metropolitan Stadium Commission has said that the Metrodome cannot exist with one tenant. And the Vikings have stated that they cannot exist in the Metrodome as the sole tenant. The Metrodome, as we know it, will be gone very soon. The Twin Cities will need an indoor stadium of the dome's size for high school athletics and other winter events.

Let's build this one and not talk about stadiums any more for 50 years.

Jeff, that's why I don't think an open air stadium is viable. A closed roof stadium would serve the community a lot better. I think it should be fixed roof, not retractable.

Once the decision is made to build a stadium with a fixed roof the adder to make it retractable is going to be roughly $15 million, not the $200 million so often reported by the press. This is another case where misinformation is being used to form public opinion and legislation.

Ask yourself this. Where do the reporters go to get their information on the cost to build a stadium? They go to the General Contractors. What is the motivation of the G.C.? To build the stadium as fast and cheap as possible in order to increase their profit margins and building a fixed roof is faster and easier that building a retractable roof. But should we let misinformation such as this result in a second class facility for the state of Minnesota?

According to recent reader polls by ESPN and SI Ford Field ranks in the middle of the pack, while the four retractable roof stadia all rank in the top 10. to that point, the Falcons want out of the Georgia Dome, $30 million was just spent in renovating the Edward Jones Dome to bring it into the top eight (which it failed to do and the Rams are likely candidates to move to LA) and hundreds of millions are being spent on the renovation of the SuperDome to bring it up to par with the rest of the league.

The retractable roof and operable end zone walls that were included in the original Vikings stadium design will add only a few percent to the cost of a fixed roof stadium. It is time we let the facts form public opinion and legislation.

Thanks for that information Pete. Good stuff.

We've got at least 2-3 more years before a solution is found and agreed upon. I'm not going to worry about it until then.

Actually Shane, I think next year this gets settled. It won't be an election year, presumably the economy is better. It's right before last year of Vikings lease, we'll have a different governor...

A lot needs to happen however. Like a location and funding plan. The Vikes are going to have to be willing to pay more than they have been publicly stated. Also they are going to also have to pay for the roof.

Good stuff though, it drives blog traffic, that's for sure.

Couldn't have said it better. Nice to see someone who knows what they're talking about.

I think the idea of a fixed roof serving the community better is probably true but then you have to balance that against how good a venue it is. If you have a first class venue then you are able to promote it better and that serves the community. If your venue is average then chances are you will get average results. That being said a retractable roof is a very expensive proposition not just in terms of cost to build but also in cost to maintain and ultimately that is more often than not felt by the tax payer.

It would be interesting to see an ROI study on the various roof options. How are fans affected by weather and whether or not they are protected from the rain and/or able to enjoy being out of doors. Many factors affect fan attendance, which affects revenues. Surely the roof is one of them.

That being said a retractable roof is a very expensive proposition not just in terms of cost to build but also in cost to maintain and ultimately that is more often than not felt by the tax payer.

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