As we tune in to another exciting episode of Emo Senator, Southern Minnesota's most watched telenovela, fans will be thrilled to learn that their hero, Senator Mike Parry, is deep in consternation, deeply troubled that anyone would find a provision for a Major League Soccer team in the Vikings stadium bill.
Minnpost's Doug Grow reports in Worries about ‘the other guy’ could doom Minnesota legislative session — and stadium:
Another area of the basic stadium agreement that has come under some fire would allow Vikings ownership to have “exclusive rights’’ for the first five years of the deal to bring a Major Soccer League franchise to the new stadium.
Nienow attacked the exclusivity arrangement. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing last week, he called it “a state-sanctioned monopoly that would let the team operate with no rent.”
Soccer franchise deal complicates things, too
There’s no question that this section of the agreement is important to the Vikings. But is it really a sweetheart deal?
Even other conservatives — such as Sen. Mike Parry, no friend of the stadium package — had a hard time accepting Nienow’s concern.
“I can’t follow your thinking,’’ Parry said, adding that the soccer section sounds very much like an incentive to encourage a start-up business.
Other legislators note that there hasn’t exactly been a long line of people looking to bring a big-league soccer franchise to the Twin Cities. A franchise would cost a minimum of $30 million. Typically, Major League franchises are drawing about 17,000 people a game. That’s not a gold-mine number for owners, but those sorts of numbers would generate sales taxes on everything from beer sales to tickets at a new stadium.
If soccer is a high Viking priority, it also might encourage the team to build a retractable roof on the stadium. (A retractable roof would cost about $120 million and the stadium agreement makes it clear that cost would be covered by the Vikings.)
A review of news reporting in Nexis shows that the Wilf family business has connected the retractable roof to its desire for owning a Major League Soccer team since 2005, when the "Associated Press reported that New Vikings owner wants to explore soccer franchise" (June 21, 2005, Nexis accessed April 30, 2012).
What language in the bill prompted The Nienow's outburst?
- [473J.15] CRITERIA AND CONDITIONS. (Section 15 - 3rd engrossment)
21.32 Subd. 15. Major league soccer. The authority shall, for five years after the first
21.33NFL team home game is played in the stadium, grant the NFL team the exclusive right to
21.34establish major league soccer at the stadium. The authority and the NFL team may enter
21.35into an agreement providing the terms and conditions of such an arrangement, provided:
22.1(1) if any of the NFL team owners whose family owns at least three percent of
22.2the NFL team purchases full or partial ownership in a major league soccer franchise,
22.3such franchise may play in the stadium under a use agreement with similar terms as are
22.4applicable to the NFL team at no additional rent, but including a provision of payment
22.5of game-day costs and reasonable marginal costs incurred by the authority as a result of
22.6the major league soccer team; and
22.7(2) capital improvements required by a major league soccer franchise must be
22.8financed by the owners of the major league soccer team, unless otherwise agreed to by
Has our hero discovered the job-creating cure for our nation's economic woes? Since federal, state, and local government owns much property, offering a corner office in the local federal building or county courthouse rent-free for five years should spur growth like we've never seen.
Or perhaps a Godfather Pizza franchise. Mike Parry has said that big government makes it hard for him to expand his business.
Surely logic like this, which is so not welfare for prosperous businesses, will help Mike Parry defeat the evil Quist in their wooing of Republican delegates in Sourthern Minnesota.
And those Major League Soccer teams are such struggling start-up businesses, as the Belle of Waseca County suggests (and Grow apparently concurs, citing those paltry attendance figures). Indeed, the Sporting News reported that there's little incentive for anyone to open soccer franchises in MLS passes NBA as third best-attended American sport:
The strong showing at the gate brought MLS’s average above the most recent seasons for both the NHL (17,132) and NBA (17,323).
What drove MLS to eclipse hockey and basketball? SN reports:
Major League Soccer set a new high-water mark for average attendance this season, as expansion clubs in Portland and Vancouver lived up to preseason expectations for big crowds, and a new stadium and rebranding effort in Kansas City turned around that city’s once-ailing club.
Ah yes. When Emo Senator jumped into his congressional campaign, the Mankato Free Press reported:
Parry is hopeful that activists will rally around his campaign and his message of smaller government, fewer regulations, and private sector solutions to the nation’s lagging economy.
Indeed, all it will take to get the nation's job creators moving again is for government to get out of their way. Once it builds them a stadium and lets them set up another business there rent-free.
Associated Press sports writer Paul Newberry writes in In tough times, stadium gravy train rolls on:
Forget the obvious, that the last thing a city or state needs to be doing in these tough times is chipping in to build a new stadium. We won't even bring up that it might be more useful to repair all those potholes that have grown to the size of craters, or hire back some of the laid-off police officers who kept those bumpy streets a little safer, or reopen schools that had to be shuttered because there wasn't enough money to turn on the lights.
Instead, we're going to talk about the cold, hard numbers: stadiums and arenas are bad for business.
The next economist who says that building a new sports facility makes financial sense to the public at large will be the first. There seems to be unanimous consensus among those who aren't on the payroll of some owner or politician that no matter how you crunch the numbers, a stadium will drain more dollars out of a community than it ever pumps in. The only real benefit comes right at the beginning, from the flush of the construction dollars that are needed to throw the place up. After that, it's a wash at best, and probably a net loss.
There's only a handful of people — owners, players, team employees, maybe a few businesses around the new facility — that get any real benefit. For the most part, whatever dollars are being spent at the game are coming out of the same entertainment pot. Money that might've been spent on a nice dinner or to take in a movie winds up in the team's pocket.
That's why owners are unwilling to build their own stadiums or arenas without at least some government assistance. They know it's a money-losing proposition, camouflaged behind vague promises of how it will help the community in ways that can't be measured with pure numbers.
Fiddle-ded-dee! One can't say it often enough: it's all about getting out of the way of the job creators, once government builds them a stadium and lets them start another business rent-free.
Image: Mike Parry as Flouncette O'Parry, Belle of Waseca County. By Tild.