For the last few years, the new stadium that will play host to the Minnesota Vikings starting in 2016 has been spoken of in terms of be an iconic football palace. But there will be other uses for the stadium and the embattled chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, Michele Kelm-Helgen, was out stumping for the virtues of the new stadium.
On Thursday, Kelm-Helgen was a featured speaker at an event called Kegs & Issues, sponsored by the Moorhead (Minn.) Chamber of Commerce. Speaking in front of a backdrop of cases of Budweiser and Bud Light at D-S Beverages in Moorhead, Kelm-Helgen told the crowd that there are big plans for the stadium that will go above and beyond just the Vikings.
Kelm-Helgen wasn’t short on the hyperbole when describing the stadium, telling the chamber crowd, “There is not going to be another building like this in the country or in the world.”
She called the new stadium “iconic,” while referring to the Metrodome as an ugly facility that looked like “a big spaceship” that never generated any economic activity in the area surrounding the old dome.
While critics of the stadium have contended that the public funding shouldn’t be used on a sports stadium, Kelm-Helgen said the Vikings aren’t the only ones who stand to profit from having a state-of-the-art facility.
“The team is going to make money, but I guarantee you so is the State of Minnesota,” Kelm-Helgen said.
Kelm-Helgen laid out some of the financials to the Kegs & Issues crowd, saying that $800 million in private investment is funneling into projects around the stadium and the 10 dates a year that the Vikings have in the stadium (more if they host playoff games) will generate approximately 70 percent of the annual operating costs.
But she added that there are plans for the stadium that will make it a destination the other 355 days out of the year.
“We want to bring people into this facility every day,” she said. “No other stadium is going to look like this.”
At this point, stadium construction continues to alter the skyline of Minneapolis as the stadium takes the form that is starting to make it more closely resemble the artist renderings that have been seen for the last couple of years. The primary attraction will be the Vikings as the main tenant of the building, but if Kelm-Helgen’s vision of the full use of the stadium is realized, she’s convinced not only will the stadium be of value to the state of Minnesota, it will turn a profit and become a money maker for Minnesota, not an expense.