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Last reviewed October 2022

Minnesota Issue Guide
Financing Professional Sports Facilities

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators. It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research. It is not intended to be exhaustive.

Books and Reports    Articles    Internet Resources    Additional Library Resources

Many professional sports facilities have been built in the United States over the last two decades -- including several in Minnesota. Many have questioned the wisdom of using public funds for sports facilities as the stadium decisions were being made.

Public financing of large public facilities is always a challenge. Will it be worth the cost? How will the construction costs be funded? Is it an appropriate use of public funds? Advocates for new sports facilities often stress the economic benefits that a new facility can bring to the community. Opponents frequently point out that many economic impact studies on the topic have found that the benefits may not be substantial. However, the intangible benefits a professional sports team can bring to the community also play a large part in any decision to build a new sports facility.

In Minnesota, funding alternatives have included a cigarette tax, a ticket tax, use of casino or lottery proceeds, and public ownership of the professional team. Funding options that have been used in other states include: hotel/motel taxes, a general sales tax, new excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol, car rental taxes, state lottery funds, and money generated from the sale of luxury seating and rights to purchase season tickets.

The debate on whether public funds should be used to build new stadiums continues despite the recent completion of three new stadiums in the Twin Cities -- Target Field in 2010, U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016, and Allianz Field in 2019. The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has compiled several guides on specific stadium debates in Minnesota:

Significant Books and Reports

Baade, Robert Allen. Stadiums, Professional Sports, and Economic Development: Assessing the Reality. Detroit: Heartland Institute, 1994. (GV415.B34 1994b)

Baim, Dean V. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994. (GV415.B35 1994)

Bast, Joseph L. Sports Stadium Madness: Why it Started: How to Stop It. Chicago: Heartland Institute, 1998. (GV415.B37 1998)

Cagan, Joanna. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1998. (GV415.C34 1998)

Caught Stealing: Debunking the Economic Case for D.C. Baseball. CATO Institute, 2004.

Coates, Dennis, and Brad R. Humphreys. The Growth Effects of Sports Franchises, Stadia and Arenas. Working Paper No. 97-02. Baltimore: University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1997. (GV716.C63 1997) (A newer version of this paper is available online. A version was also published in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Fall 1999, p. 601-24.)

Danielson, Michael N. Home Team: Professional Sports and the American Metropolis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997. (GV706.35.D36 1997)

Gayer, Ted; Austin J. Drukker; and Alexander K. Gold. Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds and the Financing of Professional Sports Stadiums. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2016. (GV415 .G39 2016)

Minnesota Stadium and Arena History. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, 2010. (GV415.M56 2010) (This chart includes financing details for each major stadium.)

Noll, Roger G., and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1997. (GV716.S647 1997)

Petersen, David C. Sports, Convention, and Entertainment Facilities. Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute, 1996 (NA6880.5.U6 P49 1996)

Quirk, James, and Rodney D. Fort. Pay Dirt: The Business of Professional Team Sports. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992, 1997 update. (GV716.Q57 1997)

Rafool, Mandy. Playing the Stadium Game: Financing Professional Sports Facilities in the 90s. Denver: National Conference of State Legislatures, 1997. (GV415.R34 1997)

Rosentraub, Mark S. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. New York: Basic Books, 1997. (GV716.R67 1997)

Shropshire, Kenneth L. The Sports Franchise Game: Cities in Pursuit of Sports Franchises, Events, Stadiums, and Arenas. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995. (GV581.S57 1995)

Stadium Finance: Government's Role in the 1990s. Madison: State of Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 1996. (JK6074.I52 no. 96-1)

Stadium Financing. Minneapolis: Minnesota Institute of Legal Education, 1998. (GV415.S723 1998)

Wilhelm, Sarah. Public Funding of Sports Stadiums. Policy Brief: 04-03-08. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Center for Public Policy and Administration, 2008.

Zimmerman, Dennis. Tax-exempt Bonds and the Economics of Professional Sports Stadiums. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 1996. (GV415.Z55 1996)

Reports Specific to Minnesota

Advancing Arts and Athletics: Planning and Funding Arts and Sports in Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota Planning, 1998. (GV430.M6 M566 1998) (Governor Arne H. Carlson's Task Force on Sports Facilities.)

Analysis of Stadium Options. Minneapolis: Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, 1997. (GV416.T9 A53 1997)

Analysis of the Estimated Historical Tax Revenue Benefit to State, County and Local Governmental Agencies from Activities Associated with Major Professional Sports Facilities in Minnesota. Minneapolis, Minn. : RSM McGladrey, Inc for the Metropolitan Council., 2009. (GV716.A53 2009)

The Canterbury Proposal: Report to the Minnesota Stadium Task Force. Shakopee, MN: Canterbury Park, 1997. (HV6711.C36 1997)

Dyson, Deborah A. State and Regional Financing for Sports Facilities. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 1996. (GV430.M6 D97 1996)

Economic and Fiscal Impacts Analysis Related to the Location of a National Hockey League Franchise in St. Paul: Final Report. St. Petersburg: KPMG Peat Marwick, December 1996. (GV848.4.U6 E36 1996)

Economic Impact Report: Minnesota Twins and a Proposed New Ballpark. Minneapolis: Arthur Anderson & Co., Minnesota Wins, 1997. (GV875.M6 E36 1997)

Economic Impact Report on Target Center. Minneapolis: Arthur Andersen & Co., 1994. (GV416.M6 E26 1994)

Final Report. Minneapolis: Advisory Task Force on Professional Sports in Minnesota, 1996. (GV716.M48 1996)

Final Report of the Minnesota Stadiums Task Force. St. Paul: Minnesota Stadiums Task Force, January 25, 2002.

Hirasuna, Donald. The Economics of Sports Stadiums: Evaluating the Benefits from Public Assistance. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 1997. (GV415.H57 1997)

Klobuchar, Amy. Uncovering the Dome: Was the Public Interest Served in Minnesota's 10-Year Political Brawl Over the Metrodome? Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1982. (GV416.M6 K45 1982)

Loan Agreement for the Saint Paul Arena Project. n.p., 1998. (GV416.S3 L63 1998)

Maintaining a Minnesota Tradition: Minnesota Twins Information Kit. Minneapolis: Minnesota Twins, 1997. (GV875.M6 M354 1997)

McCormack, Patrick J., and Randal S. Hove. Hockey Issue Questions & Answers. St. Paul: Minnesota State Senate, Office of Senate Counsel & Research, March 19, 1998. (GV416.S3 M33 1998)

McCormack, Patrick, and Randal S. Hove. Stadium Discussion Points. Research Report. Senate Counsel & Research, 1997. (GV415.M33 1997)

Metrodome. Minneapolis: Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, 1995. (GV416.M6 M38 1995)

Minnesota Vikings Football Club Presentation to Stadium Panel. Minneapolis: Minnesota Vikings, 1997. (GV956.M5 M55 1997)

Procedures Relating to an Evaluation of the Source of Financial Information Included by the Minnesota Twins in its Report, Management's Discussion and Analysis. Minneapolis: Coopers & Lybrand, 1996. (GV875.M6 P76 1996)

Public Disclosure of Information Related to the Construction of a New Civic Center Arena in St. Paul. St. Paul: Minnesota Wild, 1998. (GV416.P83 1998)

Response to Information Requests from the Stadium Task Force and Additional Background Information. Minneapolis: Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, 1997. (GV416.M6 R47 1997)

Shape the Solution: Keep Minnesota Major League: Resource Guide for the Minnesota Stadium Task Force. Minneapolis: Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, 2001. (GV416.M6 S53 2001)

Squeeze Play : The Campaign for a New Twins Stadium. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Department of Speech Communications, Minnesota Public Advocacy Research Team, 1998. (GV416.M6 S68 1998)

Stadium Financing. Minneapolis: Minnesota Institute of Legal Education, 1998. (GV415 .S723 1998)

Weiner, Jay. Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. (GV 716.W43 2000)

Significant Articles

(articles in reverse chronological order)

"The Economics of Sports Stadiums: Does public financing of sports stadiums create local economic growth, or just help billionaires improve their profit margin?" Berkeley Economic Review, April 4, 2019.

Farmer, Liz.  "How Cities Fell Out of Love With Sports Stadiums: Major League Teams Used to Get Everything They Wanted From Sports-Mad Cities."  Governing, May 2018, p. 46-50.

Wolla, Scott A. "The Economics of Subsidizing Sports Stadiums." Page One Economics, May 2017, p. 1-3.

Fisher, Ronald C., and Robert W. Wassmer. "Time to Question the Public Benefits of Pro Sports Subsidies." State Tax Notes, October 19, 2015.

Povich, Elaine S. "Is Obama Proposal the End of Taxpayer-Subsidized Sports Stadiums?," Stateline, March 16, 2015.

Brainerd, Jackson. "Are Publicly Financed Sports Stadiums Worth the Cost?" The NCSL Blog, January 9, 2015.

Propheter, Geoffrey. "Sports Facilities and the Property Tax." State Tax Notes, April 29, 2013, p. 391-402.

Kuriloff, Aaron, and Darrell Preston. "In Stadium Building Spree, U.S. Taxpayers Lose $4 Billion," Bloomberg Business, September 4, 2012.

Meland, Christa. "Is Target Field on Target?" Twin Cities Business Monthly, October 2010, p. 42-43.

Kishner, Irwin A., and David R. Hoffman. "Fields of Dreams The Benefits of Public and Private Cooperation in Financing Professional Sports Stadiums." Entertainment and Sports Lawyer, Fall 2010, p. 20-22.

Gee, David. "The Business of Baseball: With the Dawn of the Target Field Era and the Vikings' Stadium Debate Raging, What Benefits--Both Economic and Experiential--Do Professional Sports Really Bring to Minnesota."  Minnesota Business, April 2010, p. 24-28.

Baade, Robert A., et al. "Selling the Game: Estimating the Economic Impact of Professional Sports through Taxable Sales." Southern Economic Journal, 2008, volume 3, p. 794-810.

Coates, Dennis. "Stadiums and Arenas: Economic Development or Economic Redistribution?" Contemporary Economic Policy, October 2007, p. 565-577.

Schwester, Richard W. "An Examination of the Public Good Externalities of Professional Athletic Venues: Justifications for Public Financing?" Public Budgeting & Finance, Fall 2007, p. 89-109.

Santo, Charles. "The Economic Impact of Sports Stadiums: Recasting the Analysis in Context." Journal of Urban Affairs, 2005, Volume 27, no. 2, p. 177-191.

Carlino, Gerald A., and N. Edward Coulsen. "Should Cities Be Ready for Some Football? Assessing the Social Benefits of Hosting an NFL Team." Business Review (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), Second Quarter 2004.

Fisher, Daniel. "Value Player (football team valuations; Red McCombs)." Forbes, September 2, 2002.

Utt, Ronald D. "Tax Me Out to the Ballgame: Publicly Funded Stadiums Rarely Deliver on Their Promise to Bring Economic Stimulation to Struggling Cities." American Legion Magazine, August 2002, p. 38-42.

Nelson, Arthur C. "Prosperity or Blight? A question of Major League Stadia Locations." Economic Development Quarterly, August 2001, p. 255+.

Keating, Raymond J. "You're Out! Corporate Welfare for Major League Baseball." Tax Notes, June 4, 2001, p. 1739-1753.

Dorocak, John R. "Tax Advantages of Sports Franchises: The Stadium." State Tax Notes, January 1, 2001, p. 55-58.

Rappaport, Jordan, and Chad Wilkerson. "What Are the Benefits of Hosting a Major League Sports Franchise?" Economic Review (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City), First Quarter 2001, p. 55-86.

Johnson, Benjamin. "Public Financing of Professional Sports Stadiums." State Tax Notes, September 11, 2000.

Coates, Dennis, and Brad R. Humphreys. "The Stadium Gambit and Local Economic Development." Regulation, Volume 23, no. 2, 2000.

Keating, Raymond J. "Sports Pork: The Costly Relationship Between Major League Sports and Government." Policy Analysis, April 5, 1999, No. 339.

Ozanian, Michael K. "Selective Accounting: Most Team Owners Claim to Be Losing Money." Forbes, December 14, 1998, p. 124-134.

Green, Kevin, Benjamin Klein, and Brian Lebowitz. "Using Tax-Exempt Bonds to Finance Professional Sports Stadiums." State Tax Notes, May 11, 1998, p. 1553-1569.

"Sports Policy Symposium." Policy Studies Review, Spring 1998. (A series of articles on professional sports and public policy.)

Swindell, David, and Mark S. Rosentraub. "Who Benefits from the Presence of Professional Sports Teams? The Implications for Public Funding of Stadiums and Arenas." Public Administration Review, January/February 1998, p. 11-20.

Safir, Adam. "Note: If You Build It, They Will Come: The Politics of Financing Sports Stadium Construction." The Journal of Law & Politics, Fall 1997, p. 937-963.

Badenhausen, Kurt, et al. "More Than a Game: An In-Depth Look at the Raging Bull Market in Sports Franchises." Financial World, June 17, 1997, p. 40-50.

Noll, Roger G., and Andrew Zimbalist. "Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: Are New Stadiums Worth the Cost?" The Brookings Review, Summer 1997, p. 35-39.

Irani, Daraius. "Public Subsidies to Stadiums: Do the Costs Outweigh the Benefits?" Public Finance Review, March 1997, p. 238-253.

Rafool, Mandy. "Financing Professional Sports Facilities." NCSL Legisbrief, January 1997.

Burke, David. "The Stop Tax-Exempt Arena Debt Issuance Act." Journal of Legislation, Volume 23, no. 1 (1997), p. 149-157.

"The High-Stakes Game of Team Ownership." Financial World, May 20, 1996, p. 53-65.

Articles Specific to Minnesota

(articles in reverse chronological order)

"Sports Stadium Funding: A Summary of Actions by the 2006 Legislature." Money Matters, Minnesota House Fiscal Analysis Department, July 2006.

McGraw, Daniel. "Demolishing Sports Welfare: Two Court Cases Could Mean the End of Publicly Funded Stadiums." Reason, May 2005, p.33-38.

Hebensperger, Ron. "Squeeze Play: The Stadium." Perspectives: A Publication About the Minnesota Senate, Winter 1998, p. 4-9.

"Twins Stadium Financing." Money Matters, Minnesota House Fiscal Analysis Department, August 13, 1997.

Cohan, Paul. "Will Minnesota Wave Good-Bye to the Twins?" Stateline Midwest, April 1997, p. 1, 5.

Carlson, Scott. "Lex Circensis: Legal Issues in the Stadium Debate." Bench & Bar, February 1997, p. 18-22.

Wehrwein, Sven. "How We'll Get a New Ballpark." Twin Cities Business Monthly, November 1996, p. 26-31.

Significant Internet Resources

Minnesota Stadiums Task Force, 2001-2002 -- The Stadium Task Force was created by Governor Ventura and the Legislature in 2001 to study and make recommendations regarding the asserted needs of the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota football team for new stadiums.

Sports Facility Reports -- The National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University published this annual newsletter on sports facilities from 2000-2020.

Additional Library Resources

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:

S150 (Stadiums)

For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use this Library catalog search:
Stadium Finance.

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