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Fan Mobilization and the Minnesota Sport-Stadium Campaign

Lana L. Huberty, Timothy B. Kellison, and Mike Mondello

As state- and local-government subsidies to professional sport organizations have increased over the past 3 decades, economic arguments have been crafted to justify these subsidies, such as Crompton’s claims of increased community visibility, enhanced community image, stimulation of other development, and psychic income. The purpose of this study was to examine the public relations strategy of a professional sport organization campaigning to secure public funding for a new stadium. Specifically, the authors focused on the use of press releases by the Minnesota Vikings, a National Football League team, over the 3 seasons preceding the completion of their successful sport-stadium campaign. This study was timely in that these press releases were from 2010, 2011, and 2012 and the new Vikings stadium grand opening is set for 2016. Through a qualitative analysis, the authors identified the arguments made by the team to garner support for the stadium plan during the Vikings’ campaign. In all, 71 press releases were collected, examined, and coded by investigators. Findings are discussed to provide insight into these 4 alternative justification arguments.