Why Arden Hills is the Vikings’ Choice for a New Stadium…

A real NFL Game Day experience is fast becoming the key reason people support the proposed Arden Hills site for a new Vikings stadium over other more practical and economically feasible stadium sites in Minneapolis.  Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president of Public Affairs and Stadium Development, explained today on Michelle Tafoya‘s local radio show on WCCO that tailgating is part of this experience.  Really?

Let’s go with this idea for a moment.

Is partying in a parking lot eight times a year really a good reason to build a stadium in the middle of an urban nowhere?  (Yes, Arden Hills, you are off the economic and entertainment beaten path.)

Of course tailgating isn’t the real reason the Vikings want the Arden Hills site, but when that argument becomes a plausible justification for squandering millions, you get a sense for how reckless this stadium “debate” has become.

At any rate, this is less a debate and more extortion anyway.  Zygi Wilf, a multimillionaire, and the National Football League, a multi-billion dollar industry, aren’t happy enough with a handout, these beggars want things on their terms and whine if the donors push a little for a better bargain.  So talking about practical matters doesn’t square when you can tap fans’ emotions.

Does This Qualify as an "Inappropriate" Relationship?

Look…I am not opposed to having a good time in a parking lot from time to time; in fact, I’m not opposed to a little reckless misbehavior, just ask my ex-wife or any of the near-exes that followed.  But I don’t see how providing party space for a few thousand fans to roast hot dogs and drink beer before a football game adds value to one site over another.  Personally, I prefer to “tail gate” in a downtown bar.  Help me and my NFL Game Day experience.

Wilf wants the Arden Hills site because he is a commercial property developer.  And don’t forget the parking revenues.  Primarily, however, Wilf is a developer, and if he can get financially strapped Minnesotans to kick in a few million dollars to help cover his risk developing a prime parcel of vacant land in a major metropolitan area…well, great!

Wilf’s football team will play just as well in a billion dollar stadium in Minneapolis as it will if it is built somewhere else, even after he sells the team.  Wilf is leveraging the Vikings to gain additional business advantages.  It is bad enough we are being squeezed to subsidize the profits and growth of the NFL.

All the sports action today is in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  It is supported by a broader hospitality and entertainment industry that involved years of investment and development.  Plus Minneapolis already enjoys transportation infrastructure that currently serves major events very well.  In this era of public austerity, does it make sense to spend public money duplicating existing public infrastructure and services?

We should also look at the wisdom of investing tax dollars in this private project.  Consider that we have a surplus office and retail space in the Twin Cities metro now.  Is building more away from our existing economic core a smart idea?  If it is a smart idea, why can’t Wilf get other private job creators to invest with him?

Unfortunately, rather than consider the real economic interests of developing (or not developing) the Arden Hills site, we hear more and more talk about silly intangibles like “Game Day Experience.”  I’m sorry, but this simply doesn’t cut it.


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5 thoughts on “Why Arden Hills is the Vikings’ Choice for a New Stadium…

  1. Just shut up

    Awful article. You are so way off. The public money would go to the stadium not his developments. This is what fans want. Not a sardine can in downtown.

  2. Just shut up

    Another thing. This would be essentially replacing the Metrodome.. How many events are there a year? 8? Nope. It would also attract concerts, Big 10 champ game, a Super Bowl, number of NCAA regional’s etc.

    You seem biased towards it being in Minneapolis as well.

    Another thing why should Wilf pay 200 mil for a roof that the state is demanding that he doesn’t want?

    1. Tour Guide Post author

      Wilf would pay for a roof because he and the NFL want a roof. That wouldn’t change the fundamental problem with public financing for this stadium. In the end, Wilf and the NFL get the stadium they want — Wilf gets the land he wants — with the help of a taxpayer subsidy. In an era when we are racing to downsize and eliminate public services, it doesn’t seem consistent to turn around and subsidize a wealthy business owner and a profitable business, does it?

      If the argument for a new stadium is simply arguing that a new stadium would replace the Metrodome, I think you have to ask why we need to replace the Metrodome. And if you’re going to replace the Metrodome, why replace the Metrodome with a facility in Arden Hills. (The Metrodome is in Minneapolis.) Minneapolis already has all the infrastructure to support a stadium, even a stadium that will host concerts, Super Bowls, and regional NCAA tournaments.

  3. Pingback: Metrodome Vikings Stadium Site « A Little Tour in Yellow

  4. Pingback: Linden Avenue Vikings Stadium Site and the Basilica of St. Mary « A Little Tour in Yellow

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