Minnesota’s new stadium being debt free is irrelevant to whether it is an actual good financial asset

Late last year, I saw an unbelievable headline. The Minnesota Star Tribune wrote a story with the headline of “U.S. Bank Stadium reserves are robust enough to pay off building 20 years early”. That is quite remarkable. I mean, in 2012, both the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota kicked in over $500 million in taxpayer money to build this new stadium.

Why is this suddenly happening? Essentially, gambling has taken off in Minnesota and their stadium reserve fund has gone astronomically higher than anyone thought it would be at thanks to a tax on electronic pulltabs.

The reserve fund will hit $368 million by the end of June, according to this week’s projections from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB). The cost to pay off the debt entirely in June is an estimated $377 million, meaning the state could be debt-free on the $1.1 billion building by mid-2023.”

– Minnesota Star Tribune, 12/2022

From a financial perspective, it does make sense to pay the debt now and save the public a lot in interest payments. Currently, the state makes yearly debt payments of $30 million to cover their portion of the stadium construction (including the $12 million from city hospitality taxes).

– ASAPScience

Except, I keep seeing people combining the rise in revenues from electronic pulltabs with the finances of the stadium. The two are completely separate. Because the state saw a rise in revenues from this tax does not mean the stadium was worth it, is a fantastic stadium or anything else that Vikings stadium fans are claiming.

– One local politician claimed that this rise in revenue from pulltabs means the stadium has been a “great success story”.

– The team’s VP told the local paper that paying off the stadium debt would “continue (the stadium’s) success”, whatever that meant.

– Another former politician thought that if the city paid off the bonds early, that money should CONTINUE going to the Vikings with a new public money fund for stadium maintenance. Why in the world would a city/state do that? Something about the stadium being an “incredible state asset that needs to be protected financially.”

That last politician isn’t the only one wanting to fleece the local taxpayers even more.

“The Vikings and members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), which oversees the stadium on behalf of taxpayers, have supported the need for a maintenance fund to keep it updated.”

– Minnesota Star Tribune, 12/2022

Is it any wonder that in 2016, city/state officials who were part of the agency over-seeing the taxpayer’s money on in the original stadium deal were given “free access to luxury boxes for all events in the stadium”? Nevermind that the public paid for half of it.



As wrote in an article, two of the city officials tried to argue that they took these free suites and extra tickets for family members because they worked “long hours on game days and spent long nights negotiating on behalf of taxpayers during construction of the building”.

Keep in mind that the city ALREADY has legal obligations, “including annual payments to a fund for operating expenses and to another fund for capital improvements”. So, the team and MSFA want the city to pay twice into that fund?

Leave a Reply