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MINNEAPOLIS-Economics should not be the main basis on which metropolitan areas like the Twin Cities decide to subsidize sports stadiums because a pro sports team’s cultural value outweighs its economic contributions.

“Sports stadiums are like light rail—they don’t make economic sense,” says Joe Hoesley, EVP and group head of commercial real estate for Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank. He spoke on the subject at RealShare Minneapolis, the half-day commercial real estate conference held this week in downtown Minneapolis.

“But we need (pro teams) to attract talent,” Hoesley says. “Just remember the impact on Baltimore when the Colts left for Indianapolis.”

Sports stadiums are a big issue in the Twin Cities, where the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Gophers are each vying for their own publicly subsidized stadiums. They’ve had a mixed economic impact around the country. While Denver has seen significant development around its stadiums, little has sprouted up on the riverfront around Cincinnati’s new stadiums, Hoesley said.

Professional sports teams helps corporations recruit workers while losing a team can be devastating for the area’s image, Hoesley says. This is especially true in an area rich in Fortune 500 corporations like the Twin Cities. For instance, the Twin Cities is headquarters for 19 Fortune 500 companies, while Phoenix, with a comparable population, has three Fortune 500 firms.

Boyd Stofer, CEO of United Properties, agrees with Hoesley. “It attracts young people,” he says. “It’s an intangible, and one that people would recognize as a huge loss.”

But the problem becomes—where do you get the money to support three stadiums?

“How do you tackle three stadiums at once?” asks Pat Ryan, CEO of the Ryan Cos. “Can you defer to one?”

Ryan said the “worst thing they ever did” was to tear down Memorial Stadium, the on-campus football stadium for the Minnesota Gophers, and moved them to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. He thinks a new stadium for the Vikings or the Twins would have the greatest development impact if built on the Mississippi River because it would help spur residential development around it.

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