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Message to the Vikings: You Can Have Our Taxes, But You’ll Never Get Our Convention Business!!!

2011 September 4
by Phil Miller

The Minnesota Vikings raised some eyebrows with a presentation they gave about their proposal for a new stadium.

A red circle on a map has become the latest obstacle that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf might have to overcome to win support for his proposed stadium in Arden Hills.

The circle, surrounding 120 acres next to Wilf’s planned 260-acre stadium parcel, drew gasps last week at a St. Paul Rotary luncheon when business leaders saw the label imposed on it — “Potential Convention Center Hotel.”

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, the Vikings’ key stadium ally, said that Wilf isn’t looking to build a “major” convention center that would compete with those in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Instead, there might be a “medium-sized convention center/hotel” at the stadium site, Bennett said.

Keep in mind the Vikes want public funding from the state to fund the project.

In moving the Vikings to Arden Hills, Wilf “not only would … be taking this business [the NFL franchise] from us,” Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson said. “But he’d be taking convention business and using state taxes to do it. Yes, it would be bad.

One reason sports economists give for why subsidizing sports does not lead to regional economic development is that the subsidies don’t create economic activity.  Instead, they redistribute it.  In the absence of sports, people would find other ways to spend their time and money, for example going to movies or a local mall, directing economic activity there.  With sports, people take their spending to the stadium, but not to the theaters and shopping areas.

So I find it  amusing that while it’s apparently OK to use public funding to give people private options for where to spend their money, it’s really not OK to use it to give people options for where to take their convention business.

Link via King Banaian.

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