Vikings stadium opinion roundup: Calls for deal do-over at the Capitol

A year after doubts started about the Minnesota’s expectations for electronic pulltabs, the drumbeats are starting for a re-do on the state’s side of the Vikings stadium deal.

Ruben Rosario
(Pioneer Press photo)

Skeptics have long called for the Vikings to put more into the deal, but the sagging revenue for the state’s share has kicked off a new round of second-guessing, and calls by opinion makers to reboot the two-year stadium battle waged at the Capitol.

Today, it’s Rubén Rosario, over at the Pioneer Press, in a column headlined “Vikings stadium deal was fool’s gold. Legislators need to try again.” He’s a little fuzzy on the math: the drop he cites from $35 million to $1.7 million was not in annual revenue last year, but in a reserve fund planned by the state for this biennium. But his point lies elsewhere. Here’s the end of his column:

(Gov. Mark) Dayton told folks this week not to panic over whether electronic gaming revenues will cover the state’s total share for the proposed stadium. He raised the prospect of a sports-themed lottery and a stadium suite tax as public-revenue backups. Well, the panic button was pushed by many well before last year’s legislative action, and it was ignored. And sure, let’s go out and further blow our paychecks on gambling to help build a stadium. That makes sense.

There is nothing except embarrassment stopping the state Legislature from scrapping this deal and starting over. I say lock up the public henhouse and blow this deal up before the first shovel strikes ground next fall.

Over at Opine Season, Minnposter and (briefly) former Mark Dayton advisor Brian Lambert yesterday took his former boss to task for the Vikings deal in general and the electronic pulltab part in particular. Long a critic of the deal, he offers a five-point indictment, starting with “a lone-wolf, oddball of a Governor.” Then, he says:

The combination of rube hysteria, rube-like cheerleading by some media opinion-leaders, naked self-serving editorial strategies by others, the over-stated/under-examined fear of losing the team to L.A., the usual political terror at being held responsible for such a cultural calamity and the NFL/Wilfs’ deft feeding and parrying of all the above essentially sucked any negotiating cunning out of the local players’ heads. And they were no match for the NFL or Wilf to begin with.

Which sets us up for our next act of communal abasement—finding another way to bleed $300-plus million from taxpayers to finance an equity-bonanza for a multi-millionaire family and their astonishingly profitable protectorate.

And over at Minnpost, Marlys Harris asks the question “Vikings stadium buyer’s remorse? I’ve got it bad, do you?

A critic of the deal, she also notes the Falcons stadium subsidy in Atlanta and charitable gambling lobbyist King Wilson’s retirement to Hawaii. She, too, calls for a do-over.

If we’ve been chumps, I figured, there isn’t much we can do. After all, the state and the Vikings have a contract, right? And if we tried to squirm out of it, the lawsuits would never end.

But, as it turns out, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says there is no contract. Nor is there even a written agreement. A spokesman for the Governor’s Office says: “The only written agreement is the legislation that was signed by the governor — all the terms that were negotiated last year were subsumed into the law.”

Well, folks, guess what? Legislation can be repealed or changed.

  • Mark

    Public financing for a public sporting arena. This still doesn’t make sense to me. How does this add to the quality of life in Minnesota? Where is the payoff (or even chance of a payoff) that would allow one to call this an investment? Sure, it is an investment for the owners and league, but, since the government is paying for it, that makes it, by definition, charity. This was a bad idea before the financing scheme was shown to be flawed. Now it also appears that our elected officials aren’t too bright when it comes to projecting revenues.

    • http://www.facebook.com/alexdcampbell Alex Campbell

      Aside from the (in my opinion oft overstated) economic benefit of such a large construction project and local draw, there’s definitely a quality-of-life benefit to having a local professional sports franchise. It’s like having a great music or arts scene. It goes beyond the thing as a source of entertainment and becomes part of the community identity. That alone probably isn’t worth $550m-ish of public funding, but hopefully the other factors (economic benefit of construction, economic benefit to neighboring businesses, maintaining TC/MN reputation as a top-tier Metro/State, etc.) make up most of that anyway.

      • Mark

        Quality of life, civic pride, etc. Those sorts of arguments worry me in that it is extraordinarily difficult to put a firm value on them. That said, I can see the impact that professional sports have in terms of putting us on the map. In terms of the cost, I am much bigger supporter of working with the Mayo Clinic to invest in Rochester. Partially because it is easier to see the economic impact to our state.

  • Mark

    Public financing for a public sporting arena. This still doesn’t make sense to me. How does this add to the quality of life in Minnesota? Where is the payoff (or even chance of a payoff) that would allow one to call this an investment? Sure, it is an investment for the owners and league, but, since the government is paying for it, that makes it, by definition, charity. This was a bad idea before the financing scheme was shown to be flawed. Now it also appears that our elected officials aren’t too bright when it comes to projecting revenues.

    • http://www.facebook.com/alexdcampbell Alex Campbell

      Aside from the (in my opinion oft overstated) economic benefit of such a large construction project and local draw, there’s definitely a quality-of-life benefit to having a local professional sports franchise. It’s like having a great music or arts scene. It goes beyond the thing as a source of entertainment and becomes part of the community identity. That alone probably isn’t worth $550m-ish of public funding, but hopefully the other factors (economic benefit of construction, economic benefit to neighboring businesses, maintaining TC/MN reputation as a top-tier Metro/State, etc.) make up most of that anyway.

      • Mark

        Quality of life, civic pride, etc. Those sorts of arguments worry me in that it is extraordinarily difficult to put a firm value on them. That said, I can see the impact that professional sports have in terms of putting us on the map. In terms of the cost, I am much bigger supporter of working with the Mayo Clinic to invest in Rochester. Partially because it is easier to see the economic impact to our state.

  • David P.

    If the stadium was a good investment, Zig would have insisted on paying for it. Zig is a smarter business player that the guy with his Vikings jersey sitting in a sports bar with a pile of pull-tabs. Hint – the stadium is not a good investment. Three stadiums are not a good investment. Six stadiums are not a good investment. They are a wonderful gift, much appreciated by billionaires, as they increase the value of their toys. Buying the team would be a good investment. We should have Zig front up the money, and pay him back from the stadium gambling game receipts. He can afford it more readily than our schools can.

  • David P.

    If the stadium was a good investment, Zig would have insisted on paying for it. Zig is a smarter business player that the guy with his Vikings jersey sitting in a sports bar with a pile of pull-tabs. Hint – the stadium is not a good investment. Three stadiums are not a good investment. Six stadiums are not a good investment. They are a wonderful gift, much appreciated by billionaires, as they increase the value of their toys. Buying the team would be a good investment. We should have Zig front up the money, and pay him back from the stadium gambling game receipts. He can afford it more readily than our schools can.