Push for new Queens stadium takes another hit

Push for new Queens stadium takes another hit

The push for a new Minnesota Vikings’ stadium may have gotten a little bit tougher.

A new study by portfolio.com says the Twin Cities can’t afford four major pro sports teams, and one may be lured away soon.

The study analyzed 82 markets in the United States and Canada to determine if they have the financial ability to support professional teams in baseball, football, hockey, basketball and soccer. The findings were based on each area’s total personal income, the sum of all money earned by all residents in a single year.

According to the study, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s total personal income of $154 billion is about $43 billion less than what is needed to support the area’s four professional sports teams – the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Wild.

What’s worse – at least for Vikings’ fans – is that Los Angeles has the capacity to support five professional franchises. The city used to have two pro football teams, and is among several oft-rumored relocation sites if the Vikings don’t get a new stadium in the Twin Cities.

The Twin Cities area is one of 19 markets that is currently overextended, according to the study. Denver, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Tampa, Fla., are even worse off.

Reaction to the study is mixed. One local economist told KSTP-TV in Minneapolis the study will hurt the Vikings’ chances for a new stadium – especially given its timing.

“It’s a tough sell, especially at the point where we’re trading off social services or police or firefighters,” said Dr. Dave Vang of the University of St. Thomas.

But the chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, cast doubt on the report.

Ray Terwilliger said the study didn’t take into account fans from surrounding states who travel to Minneapolis or the fact that building a stadium would provide thousands of jobs. He added the cost of a new stadium is now down from $1 billion to perhaps less than $900 million.

Vikings owners are scheduled to meet with Gov. Tim Pawlenty on the stadium issue later this month, although Pawlenty has indicated other things are on the front burner as the state grapples with a newly forecast $1.2 billion budget deficit.

Say what you will about the study, but it does add volume to a growing number of voices opposed to a new Vikings’ stadium in such dire economic times. Things aren’t looking good for the Wilfs – or, perhaps, the future of the Vikings franchise in Minnesota.

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