November 2, 2005
Stadium in the North
Good article in the Strib today:
Among other salient points, the author makes these arguments:
This development will produce thousands of jobs, generate millions of dollars in economic activity, improve infrastructure and help ease the local property tax burden. It's estimated that the two impacted school districts each will see their property tax base strengthened by $5.4 million, and the city and the county each will see their tax base grow by $10.8 million. This provides the schools, city and county an enhanced tax base enabling property taxes to remain the lowest per person in the metro area and among the lowest of all 87 counties in the state, while funding education and human services programs for residents.
Interesting. It sounds good to me, but how likely is this actually? What is the "reality check?" Personally I have no doubt that a stadium would benefit Anoka County, so what would the anti-stadium crowd say to these claims above?
Regardless, Anoka County won't see this project approved for quite a while. I'm thinking not until the Twins leave.
Posted by snackeru at November 2, 2005 3:06 PM | Stadiums
I thought the plan was a good one, but if you want some possible nay-saying...
It'll only ease the local tax burden once the stadium is paid off.
It also assumes that people would move to Anoka county to be near the stadium.
Some of that money that is going to Anoka county is going to be drained from Hennepin county. This is especially true of the jobs and economic activity.
Some of that tax burden is going to be used to improve the infrastructure. (Someone will be paying for that part.)
I liked the plan. It is pretty close to a doable deal. But, there are downsides, and don't let number tricks and statistics fool you. The stadium won't pay for itself for at least 20 years or so. In that time, the Vikings will want to move...
Posted by: DouglasG at November 2, 2005 4:28 PM
You nay-sayers are pathetic! You all could find reasons why the sky should be a different color or why the sun shines only during the days.
Isn't it time to be proactive on stadium proposals instead of reactive when a team decides to leave because their lease is expiring?
If the road improvements are done today instead of 15 years from now think how money would be saved just from the increase in prices. Hey I have an idea about the roads. Why improve them at all, people will just want to all move in 20 years anyway lets just make do until that happens. Think of all the money that will be saved by waiting until there are no more drivers.
If Red wanted to give all his profit from the sale of the team back to the state somebody would bitch about it not being enough.
Just build the stupid thing and move on to something else to complain about!
Posted by: Steve at November 2, 2005 5:29 PM
If the County is using TIF, (which they are), then the Cities and the School Districts won't be seeing any additional property tax revenue until the TIF bonds are paid off.
Not being a stadium basher, I want the things built, but by overpromising, we just give ammo to the anti-stadium whiners.
Posted by: freealonzo at November 2, 2005 5:49 PM
Wait for the info in the mail. Anoka County is in the same position St. Paul was 50 years ago. Will they step up and be a "big league" town. Time will tell.
Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at November 2, 2005 6:19 PM
(Note: I didn't actually read the article - just the quote.)
Steve, it's fine to get frustrated with the economic questions and nay-saying. But if a journalistic argument is presented claiming that a stadium makes sense to the public in strictly economic terms, then it will be proven to be bunk. There hasn't been a strict "run the numbers and only the numbers" scenario that actually has weighed in favor of the publicly financed stadiums presented in Minnesota. (Back in the day we had some good discussion on this one. Sorry, like I should be linking off of this site to stadium talk elsewhere!)
All the other points are valid (well, depending on who you are talking to) and can certainly be debated. The stadium proponent's job is to convince the public that the cost is justified. But many economists have attacked this issue attempting to find a strict financial justification for publicly-financed stadiums and none have managed to do it yet, as far as I know.
I think the most interesting argument is the one that implies the public's stupidity. Public, you should support this stadium because, based on your sound fiscal choice to not build the stadium today, the team will leave. When you stupidly want a team to return in five years for completely non-fiscal reasons, you will have to pay more to draw it back.
I tend to agree that the scenario is accurate. I just find it intriguing that a persuasive argument to the public is one that essentially insults the same public.
Posted by: bjhess at November 2, 2005 10:44 PM
As I stated, I liked the plan to a degree. However, it is silly to bury your head in the sand and think that no one will notice the slight of hand they just tried to pass off as good evidence. If you know the arguments, you should be prepared to answer them. The report was completely one-sided and it skewed the numbers in an attempt to persuade the unconvinced. The arguments I gave will be something the anti-stadium people WILL bring up. So, no one should pretend that all is rosy and fine with the plan. I think with a little tweak here and there (IE no state money), this stadium could happen.
Posted by: DouglasG at November 3, 2005 8:54 AM
Some interesting discussion here, to be sure.
I did read the article, and as I was reading it I thought that Ms. Langfeld was either woefully unfamiliar with the full breadth of stadium issues or was being deliberately one-sided in her presentation. Once reaching the end of the essay and seeing that she's the chairwoman of the Anoka County Board, I'm more inclined to believe the latter.
For instance, Ms. Langfeld begins by claming that 'the north' has been slighted with respect to large government-sponsored projects in comparison to 'the south', but then lists a number of projects that go back, in some cases, decades (like the Minnesota Zoo) and others that aren't definably 'south' except that they're farther south than Anoka (such as the Guthrie, the Science Museum, and the Convention Center). It's funny that Ms. Langfeld ends her paragraph listing the ways that the 'north' is being shafted by saying 'the list goes on', when I, for one, can't think of any other significant public projects south of Downtown that don't go back to the construction of Metropolitan Stadium in the 1950s. Meanwhile, the 'north' has had the National Sports Center and the Tournament Players Club, as Ms. Langfeld notes in her very next paragraph, in addition to the Hazelton Golf Course (which has hosted more major golf events since its construction, despite Ms, Langfeld's assertions of the Tournament Players Club being 'prestigious').
One big problem with putting any major infrastructure item in Anoka County is the absense of large-scale traffic paths across the MIssissippi river - a point that Ms. Langfeld largely ignores (unless you count her mention of 'road improvements' as solving that problem).
Ms. Langfeld then claims that the stadium is part of a larger development plan containing commercial properties, retail, and housing, which is certainly better than 'just' a stadium (and also explains why the lure of such a project would entice Zygi Wilf, a real-estate guy through-and-through, to invest in the Vikes to become part of it). The problem is that the investment is being looked at in the wrong way - when was the last time a hotel or a non-public housing project got significant public funding for anything but infrastructure improvements? What this looks like is an attempt to use the stadium as a way to reduce the need for private money to build all these private infrastructure enhancements, rather than using the money normally attracted by private development to help pay the cost of the stadium. Take a look - Ms. Langfeld's numbers for stadium costs don't involve even one dollar of 'private investment', even though there is a metric buttload of private development planned in and around the stadium area which, at least by the gist of Ms. Langfeld's argument, wouldn't happen if the stadium wasn't part of the project. More of that private money should be captured; this would more accurately support Ms. Langfeld's premise that "only those who use the development end up paying".
Ms. Langfeld's laundry-list of stadium advantages aren't supported by her statements, either. She asserts that the development will produce "thousands of jobs" - which is a nice sleight-of-hand since very few of those jobs will be created by the stadium and would be just as viable if the development proceeded without the stadium. Likewise, the premise of "millions of dollars in economic activity" also would be valid for the development in the absense of a stadium, which produces 'economic activity' only on days it's in use, of which only ten such days are guaranteed while the Vikings are tenants.
DouglasG also points out the flaw in the 'tax base' argument; it assumes people will move into Anoka County to live closer to the stadium rather than moving away from Anoka County to escape the traffic and associated problems with overdevelopment in a specific area.
And there's no guarantee that a new stadium will lead to lower property taxes in Anoka County. In fact, if it turns out that people do want to move into Anoka County to be near the stadium, then property taxes will certainly increase as the value of local properties increases with the increased demand. Ms. Langfeld's comment about increasing the local property tax base are almost complete contradictions of her comment that local property tax burdens will be 'eased'.
As for the road improvements, Steve unfortuantely misses the point - while Ms. Langfeld says casually that the cost of those improvements will be "covered by state revenue generated within the stadium taxing district" (is this before or after the state money is captured to help pay for the retractable roof?), it's pretty clear that the money doesn't exist before the project is completed, which means the money to actually pay for the materials and laborers to do the work has to come from somewhere. Where it will come from is that come other necessary road improvement project will have to be pushed back on the timetable until the cost of the I-35W improvements is recouped from the stadium district. And I'd imagine the reason some projects are ahead of the I-35W improvements on the 'to do' list already is because, well, they're more important to get done now. The 'separate funding' that Ms. Langfeld describes is a complete smoke-screen; it's like saying that you can afford to take a vacation to Italy instead of Brainerd now that you have a new platinum card.
Last but certainly not least is Ms. Langfeld's self-serving assertion that a referendum is not needed, citing the pro-stadium positions favorite whipping-boys of the Guthrie and the Mall of America. Somehow stadium backers never seem to remember that the Mall's state contribution was limited entirely to infrastructure (water, sewer, power, and roads) and didn't go to pay for the construction of the Mall itself. In addition, it's routinely forgotten that the Guthrie's state funding was included as part of a state omnibus funding package, which is firmly within the legislature's constitutional authority; not to mention that the state contribution to the Guthrie is only about a tenth of the projected contribution to the stadium project. Local referendums were not required to approve those projects because no funding that required the use of a local referendum was tapped in making them happen.
In contrast, projects like the Anoka County/Vikings development (and the Hennepin County/Twins stadium) are precisely the sorts of projects - projects that will receive significant funding from county rather than state tax funds - that the law requiring referendums was designed to cover. It's an apples-to-oranges comparison, except that Ms. Langfeld is trying to wrap an orange skin around the apple to make them look more alike.
Bottom line - if the project is so good for Anoka County while including the stadium, it should be just as good if not better without the stadium. If Anoka County wants a stadium, they have a great opportunity to use their existing plan to leverage developers to raise the funds required to build the stadium, rather than using public money to attract developers who wouldn't be interested in the project otherwise.
Posted by: David Wintheiser at November 3, 2005 12:25 PM
Well said, David. I think we'd all like to see the stadium issues resolved, but to accept a less-than-stellar plan just so a team won't move isn't a good negotiating strategy. I'd like to see a new plan drawn up by a responsible state entity (not the team and some overzealous county officials), a plan that would address building a public stadium to fit the public's needs, not just the team's and league's "wants." Unfortunately for the Vikings and the NFL, such public need for a stadium probably doesn't exist right now in Minnesota, except perhaps for increased tailgating.
Posted by: spycake at November 3, 2005 7:01 PM
First of all, let me say that I agree with Douglas. Take the state out of the equation and you have a done deal.
Secondly, welcome back David! Holy crap, that is a rebuttal. Can't say I agree with all of it, but it is well reasoned and argued, as usual. Where will Contrarian Bias live now that TwinsTerritory.com is no more?
Finally, let me also say you anti-stadium people drive me absolutely bonkers. If you only knew how your thoughtful and, again, well reasoned comments drive me completely nuts ... well you would probably write more of them! A pox on all of your houses!
Seriously, feel free to keep on commenting. Difference of opinion makes the world go 'round. I just want you all to know every time I see what I deem to be an anti-stadium comment I just about blow a gasket. I thought you should know. Carry on!
Posted by: Shane at November 3, 2005 8:03 PM
I am old enough to to remember the Washinton Senators. I don't think I can get into the Las Vegas Twins. Pohlad will go to his grave with 2+ $billion. The Twins will go to Vegas. RIP. The Aquatennial is ownly for a few days. It sucks to be just a fan someimes.
Posted by: tim at November 3, 2005 11:18 PM
I wouldn't label myself as anti-stadium. I have been against some of the stadium proposals, but it is the proposals themselves that are lacking. Here are some of the things that I don't like.
First and foremost, they ignore the Metrodome. While it isn't a great facility, it does currently exist. What is going to happen to the dome after everyone moves out? There isn't enough support for a stadium with nothing going on in them. What is going to happen to the dome? EVERY proposal should consist of a contingency for the dome. (Sell it to a developer? That could raise some serious cash...)
Second, if I'm going to pay for a stadium, I don't want it named after somebody else. I wouldn't donate a huge chunk of money to a hospital to have them name it the Pillsbury wing. I want my investment to be reflected in the name. Hennepin County Stadium. Vikings Stadium. Blaine Municple Stadium. NOT TCF stadium.
Third, you can't fire owners. The Twins owner is a billion dollar baby. He is getting a great deal from Minnesota RIGHT NOW and he has been complaining that he hasn't been given a better deal for ... how many years Shane? 11! Sure the Metrodome isn't great. But it doesn't cost him bupkiss. That is why he is still here! If we built him a $500 million stadium, he still wouldn't be satisfied. He would threaten to leave at all times to get the best deal possible. He wants appeasing. He would complain about parking, or field maintanence or whatever costs him money. He doesn't care about Minnesotans, he just cares about making as much money as he can. There isn't anything wrong with that as long as he also plays fair and pays his fair share. Up to this point, he doesn't appear willing to do that. (If we could have fired Norm Green, we would have and we would still have the North Stars...)
Posted by: DouglasG at November 4, 2005 2:28 PM