The Vikings stadium bill

Based on the latest proposal, do you favor or oppose a publicly-funded stadium for the Minnesota Vikings?Market Research

Strange things can happen late in a legislative session. The 2003 abortion legislation, known as the “women’s right to know’ bill, was tacked onto a bill regulating circuses. The law requiring law enforcement officials to issue gun permits to people requesting them was added to a funding bill for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. And the legislation creating funding for the Minnesota Twins’ stadium came late in a session, when lawmakers ganged up on their colleagues from Hennepin County.

Today, a Vikings stadium bill was born, with just a few weeks left in the 2010 session of the Minnesota Legislature.

Proponents are citing the relatively low cost of interest rates and construction costs, saying waiting would cost $50 million.

Rep. Loren Solberg called the Vikings a “state legacy” and said they’re an asset to the state. Solberg, who is chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said one Vikings playoff game — the one with Dallas — indirectly contributed $9 million to the economy.

But at the same time, Solberg said that only “people who benefit from the stadium,” should pay for it. Theoretically, that would be everyone if the Vikings are a major contributor to the Minnesota economy.

Sen. Tom Bakk, who voted against the Twins stadium bill in 2006, said it’s appropriate to bring a Vikings bill forward because other major bills have passed out of their committees. True, but the Senate’s health and human services bill cut $114 million in health care cuts.

“This is the year to do it,” Bakk said. “When you look at the unemployment we have in this state, someone has to do something to put Minnesotans back to work.”

Sen. Julie Rosen, a Republican, pointed to Target Field and the Xcel Center in St. Paul. “Once the facilities are built, there’s job creation and a lot of excitement. Rosen was a supporter of the Twin stadium bill, which she pointed out today, was passed at 4 in the morning.

“Imagine Minnesota without the Vikings,” she said.

Rep. Morrie Lanning, a Republican from Moorhead, said the key to the Vikings bill is not having it paid for with general revenue money. But he noted there’s still not a local community that’s stepped forward to host the Vikings, and contribute the money that will be required. He said the state will lose $20 million in taxes if the Vikings leave when their lease at the Metrodome is up at the end of next season.

“Our ability to market the destination will be enhanced by a multi-purpose stadium,” said Melvin Tennant, the CEO of Meet Minneapolis, the tourism agency in the city. “Many other events could be attracted if we have the stadium.”

Tim O’Connor, the chair of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, suggested the Vikings need to stay in Minnesota to keep CEOs of companies wanting to live in the region.

ELEMENTS OF THE PLAN

* The stadium will cost $791 million.

* The Vikings contribute $32 million to pay off debt for 40 years. The team’s total contribution is $264 million.

* There will be taxes on hotels, sports jerseys and memorabilia, and car rentals.

* A lottery game would be created.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: If not Minneapolis, where?

A: “No decisions have been made,” Solberg said. There are two proposals; one is site-specific and one is not. “Any of the ‘fees’ would not be imposed by the Legislature, but by someone else.”

Q: The governor will not sign bills with new taxes. Why propose them?

A: Bakk: “What I like about it is taxing sports memorabilia. They’re taxed at the wholesale level. The governor was opposed to taxes at the regional level.”

Q: The governor would be opposed to car rental taxes.

A: Bakk: “I haven’t had a meeting with the governor on this subject.”

Q: Should the Vikings be contributing more?

A: Solberg: “They should pay for it themselves. That’s not going to be happening. This is a facility that’s used by more than just the Vikings.”

Q: Do you have the votes to pass this?

A: Solberg: “It’ll go through the committee process. The budget had to be done first. And we’re there. The other part of the timeline as it goes through committee, those who benefit will be a funding source. People will judge and vote their conscience on that. ”

Q: Have you talked to leaders of the Legislature?

A: Bakk:” I had a brief conversation with Sen. Pogemiller on this weeks ago.” ( Bob notes: How do you propose a bill like this and not talk to the governor and legislative leaders?)”

Interesting to note that officials with the Minnesota Vikings were not part of today’s news conference, but an official was meeting with reporters after the news conference.

Q: Is there a reason the only legislators here today are non-metro?

A: Lanning: “I understand the reluctance of local government officials in the metro area wanting to stand up and cheer. They have lots of pressures. We need to make it clear that unless there is some local government partner and partner with the state of Minnesota and the team, it’s not going to happen. We’re elected to solve problems. Minnesota has a problem, not just with the budget, but we’re going to lose one of the major assets in the state.”

Is Moorhead interested?

Q: Is a racino part of this?

A: “Thanks for coming everybody”

  • http://fiddlyio.com justin heideman

    I’m still not clear on who is going to use the new stadium outside of the Vikings. Who, and for what?

    It just makes no sense to me how piecemeal the approach to replacing the Metrodome has been. We’re gunning to replace a fully functional, flexible, and paid-for facility with three new ones that are much more limited in use, and astronomically expensive. (Target Field, TCF “Overdraft” Field, and whatever the new vikings park would be). It’s like burning down your house because you didn’t like the wallpaper in the bathroom.

  • TJ

    Thank god _somebody’s_ finally thinking of the CEOs!

    I, for one, fully support taxing the entire state to buy a magical free stadium that a sports team that pays their players tens of millions of dollars can use in order to make sure our valuable CEOs can properly relax 16 times per year.

    I’d like to thank Minnesota’s poor and sick for donating their health care to support this noble cause.

  • http://moiramanion.blogspot.com/ Moira Manion

    I want funding for public schools and libraries, and health and human services, before yet another stadium.

  • http://fiddlyio.com Justin Heideman

    @TJ: There are only eight regular season games, and possibly two post- and pre-season games, bringing the total to twelve. So the cost-to-ceo-happiness meter is not as strong.

  • Bonnie

    The CEO’s only get to watch 10 home games per year ( not 16) and two of those don’t count. A stadium is inevitable, I’m just glad someone has started the ball rolling, or, since this is football, the ball is going to erratically bounce around for awhile until someone falls on it. Then everyone else will pile on. Hopefully no one gets hurt.

  • Joe moriarity

    Let me get this right: we’re in the midst of the worst depression (let’s call it what it is, folks!), 1,000s of minnesotans are out of work, thousands have lost their homes, 1,000s more are desperately trying to keep them and stave of bankruptcy, schools are more underfunded every year, our roads are a goulash of potholes and cracks, we’ve slashed access to the poorest and most vulnerable, our hospitals are strapped for cash . . .

    and a billionaire and his buddies in the legislature want US!!!! to build him a stadium that will be used by his team at most 10 times in a year — while we already have TWO football stadiums (one less than a year old, mind you!) Here’s my suggestion: let’s use the revenue we could generate from the revenues generated by taxes on hotels, sports jerseys and memorabilia, and car rentals for something that really matters: i.e., the needs of all minnesotans!!!!

    JM, Forest Lake, MN

  • Al

    \\”Imagine Minnesota without the Vikings,” she said.

    Looks fine to me.

    Let’s tack this measure onto the bill where taxpayers finance the construction of new places of business for all of the other privately owned businesses in the state.

  • David W.

    The state is going to have to pony up some dough this time around, as there’s no local unit of government that’s going to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for something that MINNESOTA supposedly can’t do without. Otherwise call them the Blaine Vikings.

  • Karl

    “This is the year to do it,” Bakk said. “When you look at the unemployment we have in this state, someone has to do something to put Minnesotans back to work.”

    Weatherizing poor people’s homes and building low-income housing would put Minnesotans back to work too. Where are Bakk’s bills for those needs?

    As for Republican Rosen’s concerns about Minnesota without the Vikings, imagine Minnesota without hungry and homeless people, Senator.

    Nice of these outstate hicks to drop by and propose a bunch of new taxes on the metro area though.

  • kennedy

    The number of games may be even less…if there is a strike.

    There is a brewing labor/management conflict as both sides push to feed at a trough flowing with public cash. Greed may yet decimate this league. Let’s at least see the labor dispute ended before buying in.

  • Al

    \\Greed may yet decimate this league.

    If we’re lucky. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

  • billy rig

    I think there are several holes in your reporting. First, it was 5.8 million reportadly from the monday night game, not 9 million

  • Bob Collins

    I believe i’m correct. I believe the $5.8 million was DIRECT effect. What I cited was the INdirect effect.

  • Jeremy Walski

    I would love the oppurtunity as a Minnesota Viking fan to contribute to the cause with little to no expence to tax payers who could care less if Minnesota has a professional football team. Our friends across the boarder purchased state licence plates to help pay the cost of renovating Lambo Field. If Minnesotan’s can support furry woodland creatures with licence plates. I believe viking fans have the right to do likewise. It’s a start.

  • Jeanne Goessling

    Professional football is a business. Show business. There is no reason for the taxpayers to finance their place of business.. But, if the state or city is going to pay to build it, ii should be publicly owned and administered. The Vikings should then pay a substantial rent for its use, and it should be available for other events for a (considerable) price.

  • kevin

    The schools and helping the unfortunate does not bring revenue to Minnesota! The Stadium will at the least keep the Vikings in Minnesota and there 20+ million dollars in Minnesota. It will also give minnesotans jobs to build and work at the complex!! This is not about the poorly run school system or the hand outs to the unemployed it is about a Stadium.

  • gerna herfek

    The viking need a new stadium and if that means getting taxed to build one that fine and all of you unsportsmen girly pricks who dont care about “some ones business” then go live in mexico and watch soccer games and riots all day! Go Vikings!!

  • db

    I own group homes for dev. disabled adults. They are cutting our budgets again. Maybe if we could get a raise for our staff then I could afford to hire staff as could the other thousands of group homes, it would help the unemployment also. The Sen. has got to be kidding!! They pay more to keep thier wonderful winning vikings, (when was the last time they won a championship game?) than taking care of the sick and disabled. Senator I can stimulate the economy if you would stop cutting my budget!