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November 5, 2004

Texas and stadiums

Enough! Enough of this political mumbo-jumbo. Let's talk about something that is sure to bring us all together under the banner of Unity: stadiums in Minnesota! Or rather, to be more specific, stadiums in Arlington, Texas. As I'm sure all of my loyal readers have already found out, the Dallas Cowboys will be moving to a new stadium in Arlington in 2009. On Tuesday, the people of Arlington overwhelmingly voted to support raising $325 million in tax money to build the new stadium. There is so much to discuss and learn concerning this development.

First of all, I think it is important to note again that the people of Arlington voted through a referendum to make this happen. And according to the article they did so overwhelmingly and in convincing fashion. Most stadium backers in Minnesota are not confident that a referendum would pass here, but I think there is a big difference with what happened in Texas vs. what is happening here in Minnesota. In Texas, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, agreed to put up half the money for the stadium: $325 million. Some of this money will be payed for with a 10% ticket tax and a $3 parking charge, but this deal was sold on the fact that the people of Arlington would only have to come up with the other half.

Contrast this with stadium proposals in Minnesota. Pohlad has fought tooth and nail to limit his contribution of a $500 million stadium to $120 million. And Red McCombs hasn't even agreed to anything. He's only said he will make a "sizable" contribution. Most people think he is closer to $150 million, with an extra $50 million to come from the ever decreasing NFL G3 fund. The Vikings stadium will cost upwards of $600 million. Both of these contributions pale in comparison with what other owners have agreed to pony up. Jerry Jones is just the latest example. Again, look at the deal that built Ford Field in Detroit. The Ford family agreed to put up 70% of the stadium cost and the Michigan legislature agreed to put together a deal for the rest. I think the message is clear, and I hope Pohlad and McCombs are finally taking note. In order to get a deal done, you've got to put up a huge chunk of change, and certainly more than they are offering now.

Of course, you also have to have politicians willing to make a deal. And in Arlington you had a gung ho mayor that really, really wanted the team to make it's home there. I've talked before about the economic impact a new stadium can have on a community, and why our local leaders are so interested in building a stadium in their communities. Of course, Arlington is no exception. According to the article above:

Stadium backers pointed to a city-commissioned study by Economics Research Associates projecting that the venue would pump $238 million into Arlington's economy each year...

[Opponents] said that other economists have criticized the city-commissioned report for being unreasonably optimistic.

OK, let's deal with this "unreasonably optimistic" report. $238 million is too optimistic? What if we chopped it in half? That would mean the stadium would only generate $119 million per year for Arlington's economy. So, for an investment of $325 million, the city of Arlington would receive $119 million extra per year. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

And again, it's not like the people of Arlington are being fooled into this, or that they are ignorant about the true impact of stadiums. Arlington is also the home of the relatively new Ameriquest Field, home of the Texas Rangers. You would think if building stadiums was such a bad deal that the people of Arlington would have said, "No way. We've been suckered before, and we ain't gonna get fooled again." But not only did they approve the new stadium, they approved it in convincing fashion! Do they know something Minnesotans don't know?

Of course, the deal itself is something we as Minnesotans can only dream of. The people of Arlington voted to approve a half-cent city sales tax, a 2% hotel occupancy tax, and a 5% car rental tax. So, most of the cost for the new facility will be raised by taxing people from outside the community.

So, like I said, there is a lot to be learned here, by everyone involved with stadium politics in Minnesota. First of all, Pohlad and McCombs should know that if they come up with a truly meaningful contribution they could finally have their precious stadiums. Secondly, even if economic impact projections are halved, communities that build stadiums should see a sizable increase in economic activity in the community. Finally, with a big contribution from the owner, and a creative tax financing plan that minimizes the contribution of the average tax payer in the community, a referendum is more likely to pass.

There is no doubt that this deal took a lot of work from everyone involved. The Dallas Morning News has a whole section devoted the Cowboy's new stadium on their web site. But the fact of the matter is that yet another community has figured out how to make a deal, and one that works for everyone. And by the way, the city of Dallas is now really ticked that they let the Cowboys get away, again. I wonder how the Twin Cities will feel when the Vikings and Twins leave.

Posted by snackeru at November 5, 2004 7:02 AM | Stadiums


Only way new stadiums are going to happen is new ownership or if one team leaves. This is a truth that I am beginning to accept. Until one of these happens, nothing will be done.

Oh, and Shane, all Dallas lost was the Cowboys, I mean, how bad can that be really?

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at November 5, 2004 8:40 AM

The dilemma is Red McCombs could use the lack of movement on any stadium resolution as leverage to garner support from the league to move the team to L.A.

So if we are waiting until Red sells the team, he may just trump all of Minnesota and pull up moving vans to Winter Park in the middle of the night ala Baltimore.

The Twins are similar. No new stadium then MLB will move contraction back onto the table.

We can't wait for this or that to happen. Because both teams could be long gone before anyone wakes up! Simply, we need to pass stadium resolutions and we need to this term!

Posted by: Brian Maas at November 5, 2004 1:51 PM

Craig, I have expressed those same sentiments, as you know. In my more pessimistic moods I have been known to say that the only way for the Vikings to get a stadium is if the Twins leave and vice versa. Unfortunately, I think the former is more likely to happen.

I also agree that Red selling the team would make a new Vikings stadium a little more plausible. And while Red could use the lack of movement on a stadium to gain support to move the team, I just don't think that will happen. Tagliabue knows how important it is to have a team in Minnesota. He knows how perfect the NFC North is, and he knows he can't move the team until 2011. For those reasons I believe whole heartedly that if the Vikings move, it won't be under Red's watch. He will have sold the team long before then.

However, the Twins are a different story. Pohlad will own the team until he dies and then his kids will take over. That is why it is so important to start thinking about ourselves as fans in this whole mess more than we think about sticking it to Pohlad (or McCombs for that matter). As a fan, at this point I could care less who owns the team(s). I just want this issue resolved so I can stop thinking about it and start enjoying the new facilities. Someone is going to make money and whole lot of it. As Minnesotans we just need to get over that and start focusing on ourselves more.

Well, I'm kind of rambling now, but let me add just one more thing. I can't give up hope. Deep down inside I know you are right Craig, but I just can't accept it until it actually happens. Until that time I will look at every angle possible, harrass every legislator possible, badger every neighbor, friend, family member, and blog reader until we finally solve this mess.

Posted by: Shane at November 5, 2004 3:56 PM

what percentage of ownership does jerry jones have in the cowboys? help

Posted by: tanya at August 18, 2005 3:22 PM

I have no clue what percentage of ownership Jerry Jones has in the cowboys. Sorry.

Posted by: Shane at August 18, 2005 4:08 PM

I don't understand why the Twins don't give up on Mayor Rybak and new Mayor Chris Coleman, and try to go to a suburban location for a stadium. There must be a city that wants to have a stadium and would agree to some things like car rental taxes and other "recreational" taxes to finance the stadium.

Posted by: Bob at January 15, 2006 9:41 PM

I don't understand why the Twins don't give up on Mayor Rybak and new Mayor Chris Coleman, and try to go to a suburban location for a stadium. There must be a city that wants to have a stadium and would agree to some things like car rental taxes and other "recreational" taxes to finance the stadium.

Posted by: Bob at January 15, 2006 9:42 PM

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