Last week, Forbes announced its annual list of the world’s 50 most valuable sporting franchises. Coming in at a respectable 30th were your very own Minnesota Vikings.
The magazine pegged the Vikes’ worth at $2.2 billion. But the more interesting news is this: At the ripe age of 56, the team’s value suddenly shot up by 38 percent.
This is where you come in, Glorious Citizens of Minnesota. If not for your generous welfare in the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium, owner Zygi Wilf would not find himself $836 million richer.
Officially speaking, Wilf’s welfare tab for his new lodge comes in at $500 million. But when one factors in maintenance, parking ramps, interest payments, and the new Downtown East Commons – a public park that’s only public when the Vikes aren’t using it – the estimated cost to Minneapolis residents alone is projected at $980 million.
Of course, Wilf could have paid for all this himself. He has an estimated net worth of $5.3 billion. The stadium is expected to bring him something north of $200 million annually. Throw in the $244 million each team receives from the league, and Zygi could have paid in cash with just a few years’ revenues, were he not afflicted with a desperate case of alligator arms.
So what did you, the upstanding peasant, receive for your largesse? Not much.
There appears to be no discount for Vikings welfare patrons. For the season opener against New Orleans, the cheapest entry price for a family of four is $459, according to StubHub. You will need a Sherpa to guide you to the corner reaches of the top deck.
Dare you wish to rub elbows with the princes of commerce in the Delta Sky360 Club, expect to unload $5,580.
Nor is watching on television a sure option. Sports programming has driven the cost of cable packages so high that millennials – brutalized by these reverse Robin Hood economics of our time – can no longer afford TV. As a result of cord-cutting en masse, ratings for NFL games fell 8 percent last year.
But worry not, concerned citizen. We are still ready to give –and give – so the Vikings and the NFL can glom their rightful riches.
When the Super Bowl comes to town next winter, organizers expect to have no problem gathering 10,000 volunteers to help with the cause. Since the NFL expects to generate only $14 billion this year, it just wouldn’t feel right to ask that they be paid.