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PB View: Pride of hosting Super Bowl involves dollars and more

We are part of The Trust Project.

Well, that went pretty well.

The Super Bowl was played the other day in Minneapolis, for the second time ever, first in 26 years.

The gleaming new stadium, the people of Minnesota and the overall putting on of the event all got very positive reviews.

Undoubtedly, most of the tens of thousands of visitors from outside the area were wishing the Super Bowl and its related events were being held in a warmer climate. Even the fans from the Boston and Philadelphia areas — who get a less-extreme version of winter where they live, but still a true winter — were certainly tested by some of the bitter cold they navigated while here.

But the weather didn't seem to overwhelm the atmosphere around the festivities.

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My guess is that almost all of the visitors who had previously either been to Minnesota on a very limited basis or not at all went home thinking this is a pretty good part of the country. And telling their friends and neighbors.

And might return.

Just not in the winter.

That good word-of-mouth will have unquantifiable benefits for the Twin Cities for years to come.

Will it all have been worth it? Worth the state's $348 million financial support? Or Minneapolis's similar amount?

That's a matter of opinion, an opinion based on how much you value an improved image to outsiders, and civic pride among local residents.

In raw economics, the Super Bowl — and the large but smaller NCAA Final Four that's coming in a year — is only a part of the economic benefit of a new stadium. Additional spending is somewhere between $30 million and $340 million. Even if a figure toward the higher end of that range is accepted, it's still only about one-tenth of one percent of the regional economy, economist Victor Matheston told Minnesota Public Radio.

Concerts, ball games and other events that come more than once every 26 years are far more important to the financial viability… and net added value to the local economy, if any.

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"This was not a high return investment," Arthur Rolnick, senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, was also quoted by MPR. "Poverty is a serious problem. Crime is a serious problem. A shortage of workers is a serious problem. What problem are you solving with the Super Bowl?"

Obvious answer is "none."

That said, since our political and industrial leaders decided in 2012 to go ahead with the project to build the stadium, it's here and we might as well enjoy the benefits.

If you agree with me, thank the visitors to Minneapolis who pay what will end up being $150 million in a special hospitality tax. And the residents of Minneapolis (and visitors) who pay a special sales tax, though the Minneapolis tax picture at last report was favorable enough that they might be able to use a bit of that tax money for other purposes.

THANK YOU, CHARITABLE GAMBLING

And especially those who either put on or use a charitable gambling enterprise in Minnesota. The state's share of stadium financing was supposed to be paid for by a new source, electronic pulltabs, but those sales have not met projections, and as established gambling outlets have seen higher revenue in recent years, the state has hit them for higher percentage of taxes.

"We are now tax collectors for the state instead of workers for our communities," said Al Lund, executive director of the trade group Allied Charities of Minnesota.

"The mood of our members is, 'We're sending so much into the state and we have so many needs locally, we just don't understand why we're doing all this work to send all that money to St. Paul when that's not why we started these clubs.' "

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If you liked that the Super Bowl was here last weekend, you might consider weighing in with your state legislator as he or she prepares to vote on tax relief for the charitable gambling groups — a.k.a. your friends and neighbors — in the upcoming session.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, is sponsoring a bill to change state law so that organizations' charitable donations are no longer taxed.

Rod Toomey, gambling manager for the Rochester Eagles Club, told PB reporter Heather Carlson last August that it's frustrating to see more and more money going to the state for taxes. In fiscal year 2016, the club donated $61,100 to charities but paid nearly twice that amount in taxes. Luckily for the Eagles, sales have continued to climb. But Toomey worries what happens if sales stagnate or decline.

"At some point, this unfair tax structure is really hurting the charities," Toomey said.

Related Topics: FINANCE
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