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September 22, 2004


Stadium opponents love to make the claim that the economic impact of a stadium on a city or region is negligible, or that stadiums don't really make for a good return on a city's investment. Of course, there are those that disagree. Personally, I think that the economic impact of a new stadium could be huge, but I will agree that the biggest impact a stadium has on a community is in quality of life for its residents (Mike Opat also feels the same way). However, to say that a stadium won't have any economic impact on a city or region is simply false. Our city leaders can talk about "quality of life" all they want, but there is little doubt that when Mayor Kelly or Mayor Rybak start fighting again for the opportunity to host a new Twins stadium they are really fighting for the chance for their respective cities to make a whole lot of money.

Take the Xcel Energy Center, for example. According to an editorial last Sunday in the Pioneer Press about the NHL lockout the Excel Energy Center accounts for "650 full-time jobs and $3.87 million a year in state income taxes money a state facing a $1 billion deficit in the coming biennium can ill afford to lose." Hey, every penny counts. Some stadium naysayers will point out that $3.87 million is really a drop in the bucket when compared to the overall state budget, so let's look at the economic impact on St. Paul specifically. Again according to the editorial, "Fans who come from outside St. Paul spend an estimated $23 million a year at local businesses." There is no getting around that number, $23 million is a substantial amount for a city's economy.

However, note that the editorial intentionally writes only about "fans who come from outside St. Paul." This assumes that the economic impact can only be measured by people who live outside the city since people who live in St. Paul will probably spend their entertainment dollars there anyway. That is a big assumption considering all the choices people have in the metro area. I have little doubt that the Xcel Energy Center also helps St. Paul retain money from its residents since instead of going to ... say ... Minneapolis to spend it they stay closer to home. How much does that increase the original number of $23 million? $30 million? $40 million? The editorial doesn't say. Deputy Mayor Dennis Flaherty, however, sums it up nicely by saying, "Losing a season of that will have a dramatic impact."

An NHL season has 82 games, 41 of which are played on the home ice. So, with only 41 games the city of St. Paul brings in at least $23 million extra dollars to the city coffers. At least. This doesn't even include special events like the NHL All-Star Game which conservative estimates say brought in an extra $15-20 million dollars for that weekend alone.

When you think about it that way, is there any wonder why Mayor Kelly and Mayor Rybak are so interested in building a Twins stadium? The Twins play 81 home games and they have the potential to draw at least twice as many fans as the Wild. Would it be safe to say that a city would bring in twice as much as $23 million or possibly more with a new Twins stadium? I would think the answer would be yes. In fact, I would think a new Twins stadium would bring in substantially more than $23 million. Somebody please tell me if I am off my rocker.

Posted by snackeru at September 22, 2004 9:12 AM | Stadiums


I believe that you are right on Shane. I would actually up your attendance numbers on the Twins should a new stadium be built. The Twins would probably triple the attendance of the Wild. The Wild can get a max of approx 700,000 in attendance. The Brewers got over 2 mil in the first year in Miller Park and are on pace for that again this year. This from a losing team!
A new stadium will bring increased attendance for at least 5-6 years alone. Add in that the Twins have a good team and are set for several more years, you are talking 2.2-2.5 million easily (depending on the capacity of the stadium). That would give approx $75 million to the city on an annual basis. Plus, there would be an All-Star game to be sure within 5 years, another $25 million one time bonus revenue. So, in 5 years Minneapolis would get approx $400 million in added revenue. Think that would fund some schools?

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at September 22, 2004 10:15 AM

Thanks for the comment Craig. My attendance numbers were actually referring to a per game basis, but I like your numbers better. Over the course of a season I think triple the attendance numbers of the Wild for the Twins is pretty accurate. Essentially, for a $20-30 million investement per year the cities of Minneapolis or St. Paul can get a return of over $50 million (and that is conservative as you point out). If someone said to me, "Give me a $20 bill and I'll give you $50 back" I think I would take him up on the offer.

Posted by: Shane at September 22, 2004 11:44 AM

And don't forget the employment that stadiums provide to people like janitors and beer vendors, not to mention wait staff at local restaurants. In addition, I know that different charities use concessions as fund raisers, too. Stadiums add so much to the local and state economy, not to mention the quality of life. We need to quit viewing this issue only in terms of "taxes" and "general funds."

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at September 22, 2004 3:26 PM

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