The Big Story Blog

Vikes plan most subsidized ever? Maybe not.

Posted at 2:04 PM on October 24, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Politics, Sport

We took a look earlier today at state Sen. John Marty's claim that the proposal to fund a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills amounted to the "#1, all-time, biggest taxpayer subsidy of any sports franchise anywhere in American history! "

Our first thought was that it depends. In outright dollars, not adjusted for inflation, he's right. But we also pointed out there are several stadiums where the percentage paid by the public was greater than the 60 percent proposed in the Vikings Arden Hills plan.

Catharine Richert of the MPR News fact checking blog PoliGraph has taken the analysis a step further --calculating public subsidies for sports stadiums adjusted for inflation.


Her final verdict won't be out until Wednesday. But so far she's found one sports arena that cost more in public dollars than the proposed Vikings Stadium: Madison Square Garden in New York City, home to the New York Knicks basketball team and the New York Rangers hockey team. She writes:

As a reminder, the state would put in $300 million and Ramsey County would chip-in $350 million, for a total of $650 million in public dollars. That figure goes up when additional tax perks are accounted for. The Vikings would shell out the remaining $407 million for a total stadium cost of $1.057 billion.

According to research by Marquette University's National Sports Law Institute, Madison Square Garden cost $123 million in 1968 and was 100 percent publicly financed. In 2010 inflation adjusted dollars, that comes out to $762 million in taxpayer funding.

Be sure to check out Richert's detailed analysis on Wednesday.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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