How Stadium Construction Costs Reached the Billions

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In some circles, outrage accompanied the 2001 opening of Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers' new home. The state senator who cast the deciding vote in favor of a sales-tax increase to pay the public's $290 million portion of the construction cost had been recalled in a public referendum, and three workers had died after a crane collapsed, delaying the stadium's scheduled opening by a year. The stadium's fan-shaped retractable roof proved problematic, necessitating a $13 million fix paid for by a settlement reached between the Miller Park Stadium District and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America, averting further litigation. That one signature element was a prime culprit in the stadium's ultimate $400 million construction cost, at the time the second-highest price tag for a new professional baseball stadium.

Over in the National Football League, little outrage accompanied the opening of Detroit's Ford Field or Houston's Reliant Stadium in 2002. The two buildings featured a fixed roof and a retractable fabric roof, respectively, and both were very much in line, cost-wise, with other state-of-the-art buildings of the time. Ford Field, designed to incorporate a neighboring warehouse, came in at $430 million, while Reliant's much-simplified retractable roof design kept the building's cost at $352 million, putting the two venues third and fourth at the time on the list of professional football stadium construction cost.

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