Money for nothing: How taxpayers foot the bill for pro sports stadiums – Al Jazeera America

That cost-versus-benefits debate about whether to build a stadium dates to 1999 for the Minnesota Vikings. At the time, then-Gov. Jesse Ventura had a meeting with the Vikings’ then-owner, Billy Joe “Red” McCombs. Ventura says, “Red McCombs came in with nothing. Plopped down in the chair, looked at me with his old Texas drawl and said, ‘Governor, I need a new stadium.’ And I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to have fun with this.’ So I looked at Red and said, ‘Well, Red, what do you need to see me for? I’m sure there’s a landowner out there. You can buy some land and build a stadium. Go ahead. You don’t need my approval.’”

McCombs, now 88 and living in San Antonio, Texas, recalls his argument to Ventura in favor of spending government money to build the stadium. “Well, the public relations value and the day-to-day plugging of your city you can’t put a value on because there’s no other model or any other product where you can get that. But on sports, you get it every day the year round,” he says. “So of course it’s worth it. It’s more than worth it. It is the best value in the world.”


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