Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Minnesota Vikings Keep Making Bad Arguments for a New Stadium

I've talked about Vikings Stadium point man Lester Bagley before, and how he habitually says things that are comically cynical about what the Vikings want and need for a new stadium.

There's nothing super-new in this AP interview conducted with Bagley, but he's always fun for a dry a chuckle, so let's take a look, shall we?

1.  Piece of bullshit #1:  Bagley:  "A roof does not provide any benefit to the Vikings...It also costs a couple hundred million dollars more in capital costs, in addition to the operating costs that are much higher for a covered facility."

That's just objectively not true, right?  I mean, yeah--it is fun to play outside, and maybe it gives your team a leg-up when Tampa Bay comes to town (though probably not much of a factor when dealing with Chicago or Green Bay).  But it is clear that any northern stadium that isn't NYC adjacent that wants to host a Super Bowl needs to have the option of having a roof.  If the Vikings are willing to build (help build) a new stadium that has no chance of getting a Super Bowl, than I really question their long term planning.  It's also not at all practical--the new structure will have to have some kind of roof--too many teams use the Metrodome now, and the Vikings are just not in a position to demand a stadium all of their own.  They aren't good enough, and without some real spending  they aren't going to get better any time soon.  And with the lockout looming, it is going to be very difficult for any team to do any real spending any time real soon.

2.  Piece of bullshit #2.  From the article, discussing the fact that Vikings are "willing" to pay for a third of a roofless stadium--"Bagley said the Vikings saw it as precedent that the Minnesota Twins ponied up about a third of the cost of outdoor Target Field."

I really can't believe Bagley thinks it is a good idea to compare the Twins and the Vikings in any sort of way.

A couple of things here--even figuring for the financing costs, Target Field cost about half of what a new football stadium will cost.  Paying the same proportion for the two stadiums is a false equivalence.  It's roughly a difference of $300 million dollars, and that's not nothing.  Secondly, a lot of what sports teams argue about the revenue they bring into cities on game days is kind of horsepucky.  But there is definitely some effect--and let's be real clear on this one--baseball teams play 10 times as many games as football teams.  The Twins brought 3.2 million people to Target Field during its inaugural season; the Vikings brought 470,000 (to be fair, that includes one game at TCF Bank, and one in Detroit).  Comparing two stadiums to each other may seem logical, but it really is an apples to oranges comparison.

Comparing the two teams is also not in the Viking's favor.  The Twins have won two World Series in the last 25 years; the Vikings haven't been to a Super Bowl in almost 35 years, and have never won one.  The Twins regularly make the playoffs, to the point it is a little shocking when they don't.  The Vikings floundered hilariously this year, but let's not forget that they are a pretty mediocre franchise lately (79-81 over the past decade), and mediocre looks to be the likely future for the next couple of years.

If Bagley wants the Twin Cities to treat the Vikings like they treated the Twins, maybe the Vikings should consider being as competent as the Twins, and treat Vikings fans as well as the Twins have treated their fans over the past decade.  Just sayin'

3.  I haven't seen State Senator Julie Rosen's stadium proposal (coming soon, it sounds like) but if this is her logic, I'm a little pessimistic that it is going to be sensible:  "I do feel the Vikings could easily pick up and move," Rosen said. "Because it is a business. You have to ask yourself what would the Legislature be doing if, say, Target was threatening to move out of state? It demands a response."

Here's something I bet the State Legislature would say--"Hey, Target, before we create a tax just so you can build something, can we get a look at your books?  Because we were under the impression that you are a multi-billion dollar operation."  And again, let's talk about false equivalences--Target employs 10,000 people in Minnesota, it has been here since 1902 and is a Fortune 500 company.  None of those things describe the Vikings.  Target is ably run, too. Oh, and when Target needed a new $260 million headquarters, they built it.

Sports teams are about civic pride, and not some much about being a great investment for the community, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.  It is particularly true for the NFL, which guarantees only eight games in that city, generates a few dozen millionaire players who may live in the suburbs for a few months of the year, and attempt to claim that they are so important to the community that it should it fork out almost $700,000,000 just to get them to stay?  Whatever, Lester Bagley.  Enjoy Los Angeles.

1 comment:

Andrew Wice said...

I agree.