Twin Cities get a new stadium ... again

Column: RICK SOLEM
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It’s settled, the Minnesota Vikings are getting a new stadium ... again.

An indoor stadium. To play football. Indoors.

A stadium that looks like the Jawas’ Sandcrawler from the original Star Wars.

I have all kinds of problems with this and stadiums in general.

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First, of course, it’s indoors. OK, maybe first is the $975 million price tag, a price that doesn't include a retractable roof. When you play football, you play it outside.

Target Field ruined the Vikings’ stadium plans before they were even planned.

A couple of rained out baseball games and now Minnesota is forced to watch football indoors – albeit under a clear roof. Yeah, the roof will be clear. How many football games are cancelled due to weather?

I’ve been to Lambeau Field enough times to know it sucks sitting in the elements watching a game, mainly because of all the TV timeouts and the fact I don't like beer (and can't afford an $8 one anyway). And I’ve been to the Metrodome a couple times in mid-winter thinking how nice it is I don’t need to wear my coat ... and there were cheerleaders dressed for the indoors, too, but cut me some slack, it was Halloween.

Regardless, football should be played outdoors. Super Bowls included.

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The stadium cost is nearly $1 billion. That’s fine, as long as owners Zigi and Mark Wilf are footing the bill. After all, it’s THEIR stadium. They’re not paying.

I hate the whole idea of the public or state paying to build these stadiums for these billionaires.

It would be like me charging you to build my house. Then I charge you again when you want to come over. And overcharge you for awful food. Trifecta.

I understand the stadium could help boost the economy, but the public is in for $500 million of this thing. How long until the economy breaks even?

Sure, it creates construction jobs to build it, but those aren’t forever. The other jobs it creates, once it’s up and running, aren’t exactly the high-paying, career-building types.

Bartenders. Waitresses. Cashiers. Ticket takers. The peanut guy.

And those jobs already exist since the Vikings already exist. There aren’t any new jobs. Sure, without a new stadium, the Vikings maybe would have left, but the whole point here is Minnesota is paying a billionaire a billion to build his house.

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The stadium is set to be ready for the 2016 season. The Vikings will play their farewell-to-the-Metrodome season this year and then play the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota’s newly erected TCF Bank stadium - I'll get to that later.

In trying to come up with funds for the stadium Minnesota came up with a couple electronic gambling games.

They denied the White Earth Tribe’s $400 million offer toward the stadium – essentially in exchange for building a metro-area casino and splitting revenue 50-50 – and came up with electronic gambling instead.

OK.

And, the estimated profits for the electronic gambling games were $35 million. Later, they reassessed it at $1.7 million. Were they using metric money the first time? They were off by over $33 million.

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Minnesota just built a new stadium for the Twins (first season in 2010), putting Hennepin County on the hook for $125 million and a .15% tax, while the Twins offered to pay for a third of their $545 million stadium.

Again, I’ll pay for a third of my house. You cover the rest. And I’ll charge you to come over.

The University of Minnesota just built a football stadium for $288.5 million – 48% paid for by the state.

The Target Center is in need of an overahaul. Or a move, since nobody goes to the games anyway – despite it being the dead of winter with nothing better to do. That stadium was built in 1988 for $104 million.

The Minnesota Wild’s Excel Energy Center, built in 1998, cost $130 million, paid for by the state.

All these stadiums have come up at about the same time. Why couldn’t they build one gigantic mega-stadium to host them all?

Couldn’t cost more than, say, a $1 billion, right? Considering the combined cost of the Twins, Gophers, Wild and Timberwolves cost just over $1.06 billion.

Nothing about stadiums, or indoor football stadiums, or building multiple new stadiums in the same town makes any sense to me.

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When it comes to attendance, the Vikings were 27th in the league - sixth worst - last year (60,725 per game). The Dome holds 64,121. The new stadium will hold about the same.

The Gophers stadium, which will host Vikings games for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, capacity is 50,805.

The Wild are 11th in the league in average attendance this season selling out games at near max capacity (18,794). They were 16th last year – a non-lockout year (17,772).

The Twins are 16th so far this season (28,668) and 11th last year (34,275). Target Field’s capacity is 39,021.

The Timberwolves were 21st last year (16,340). The Target Center holds 19,356.

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