All-Star Game discounts raise questions about the cost of sporting events

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A Minneapolis city council member is demanding greater transparency about the deals and discounts that the city uses to attract major sporting events, such as Major League Baseball's All Star game, held at Target Field earlier this month.

MPR News reports one elected official wonders whether the city gave away too much. Council member Cam Gordon objected to the city learning about details of bids after they had already been accepted by the city. Gordon asked if planning for the 2018 Super Bowl would be carried out in secrecy.

"The football league and the baseball league really has the upper hand because cities come in and they make a bid, and it's not real public about what they're offering because they don't want their competitors outbidding them," Gordon said.

The Star Tribune first reported Major League Baseball were granted concessions from the city of Minneapolis worth more than $250,000. One such concession: The city provided free rent for the five-day FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Minneapolis City Council president Barb Johnson said it was not possible for the council to be in on all parts of the deal as it was being negotiated, and said city staff have expertise in negotiations. Johnson believes the city 's earnings from the All Star Game will more than cover the rent deal for FanFest.

"The Convention Center was full of people for four days and just the parking revenues alone associated with that I'm sure will more than cover the rent," Johnson said.

Tax revenue numbers associated with the game won't be available for a few months, but a press release from Meet Minneapolis said FanFest attendees spent an estimated $9 million in the city. Using attendance numbers from Major League Baseball, the bureau said the 114,878 fans who attended FanFest "are estimated to have each spent approximately $79 per day." That figure is based on calculations from D.K. Shifflet & Associates, a tourism research firm.

Meet Minneapolis also said hotel revenue during All-Star Game week was 59 percent higher than over the same period last year. The release said the influx of visitors drove hotel occupancy rates "to nearly 100 percent capacity on July 14 and 15. The events also increased room rates by as much as 74 percent vs. a year ago, with average rates above $265 on Monday and Tuesday nights."

A fact sheet from Major League Baseball includes numbers on attendance for the game and related festivities in the days leading up to it.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the city will have more input with the Super Bowl than it did for the All Star Game.

"The Super Bowl has a host committee and the host committee is going to be responsible for the financials, for putting things out there," Hodges said. "The city is going is to participate and get reimbursed for our participation."

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