Minnesota Vikings fans celebrated the NFL’s decision to build a new football stadium in Minneapolis last year, but there’s another group of fans who might not have been able to attend the game.
The Minnesota Vikings were set to play the Detroit Lions at the new $1.5 billion stadium, which opened in September.
But the team and their partners decided to leave the city, and in doing so, the city’s mayor was forced to make a difficult decision: keep the team in town, or go with a smaller, more affordable alternative?
The decision to leave was made at a time when Minneapolis was facing the threat of becoming a $5 billion-plus housing project, and the team was also facing the prospect of losing millions of dollars in stadium revenue, which the team had hoped to secure with a new downtown stadium.
The decision to go with the smaller stadium could have led to a loss of millions of public dollars, according to Mayor Betsy Hodges.
But a new study published Monday in the Journal of Urban Economics found that if the Vikings had stayed in Minneapolis and stayed in a new home, they would have saved at least $10.6 million in public funds by the time the stadium opened in 2021.
It’s a very significant cost savings that we could have made with a cheaper, smaller facility, Hodges said.
When the Vikings’ owner and CEO agreed to leave, the team needed to find a new location that could house the team while also being affordable.
The team chose downtown Minneapolis for the stadium, where the new team’s parking lot was located.
“We did not think that the parking lot had the capacity to accommodate a stadium, so we chose to go to a downtown location and have our home there,” Hodges told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“We did it in the right way.”
Hodges said she believes that downtown Minneapolis could have been an attractive location for the team to leave if it was the only downtown location in the area.
Although the new stadium is smaller than many others around the country, it still could have provided a significant financial boost to the city if it had not been the case that the stadium was built on an undeveloped site, according the study.
In fact, if the team were to leave Minneapolis, it would have taken the city nearly two decades to build the $5.5-billion stadium, according Hodges’ calculations.
The city had to come up with the $9.5 million in revenue that the team received during the season to pay for the new facility, the study found.
The team could have kept its stadium if it chose to stay in the city.
But because of its stadium, the Vikings will have to pay off some of the debt the city incurred on the stadium.
Hodgers also noted that, for the first time, it was able to find more affordable housing options in the new downtown location.
If the team left, the mayor would have to find housing for its remaining employees, the paper found.