Should Minnesota wait for Vikings stadium until it knows it can pay for it?

HKS Architects  rendering of a new Vikings stadium

The chief critic of the Vikings stadium financing plan, state Sen. Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) says the state ought to wait for its stadium dessert until after the fiscal broccoli.

Nienow says he’s introducing a measure to delay groundbreaking on the stadium until Minnesota’s finance commissioner can certify that the revenues from electronic pultabs and other sources are sufficient to pay the debt service on the bonds.

Those proceeds have fallen woefully short thus far: March saw just $2.4 million in sales of electronic pulltabs statewide, and the financing was predicated on bets of more than $100 million a month.

Nienow has been sharply critical of the stadium’s financing plan, virtually from the get go, and again in a statement he released today:

Sen. Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge)

Are we really going to build a sports stadium and take money from education, health care and maintaining roads? In who’s world was this a good idea? When the stadium bill was debated, I said the E-pulltab revenue source was based on ‘fairies and fufu dust. It appears I have been proven correct.”

Thus far, lawmakers have been loath to reopen the stadium debate, in part because they’re grappling with yet another budget shortfall and issues like same-sex marriage, property tax relief and other matters.

But the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities, a 12-legislator panel appointed to watch over the stadium process, may take up discussion of the matter yet this session. Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday said Nienow was trying to “shoot his mouth off” and says that the state needs more patience with the pulltabs and to wait a little longer to see how the games work out.

Here’s what Nienow is proposing:

  • David P

    E-pull tabs might be such a bad idea, as part of a suite of funding sources. It seems there are some “Duh” flaws as currently implemented. Only patrons of a select group of bars can play. Only select patrons can play, as there are a limited number of machines. Only those willing to change their gambling habit can play (from pieces of paper and all the “good luck” nuances the players use).
    We have watched the stadium debate go from should we to where, without ever answering the first question. We have watched the price tag double, then triple from the original $300,000,000. $300,000,000 is about what the team was worth when this “conversation” started. I’m not a fan of gambling (or taxing the math impaired), nor am I in favor of the state subsidizing billionaire’s toys. Especially an out-of-state billionaire that threatens to take his toys and play somewhere else (not exactly a loyal son of Minnesota). Especially when there are already two stadiums, one new and one servicable and upgradable. I suspect once the stadium is built Zig will sell the team for a tidy profit.
    I do recognize the deal is done, and needs a plan B. I suggest a more traditional paper based gambling game, available in every outlet that currently sells the Gopher 5 and other games of (fat)chance.

    • David P.

      Typo in first sentence: E-pull tabs might NOT be such a bad idea, …

  • David P

    E-pull tabs might be such a bad idea, as part of a suite of funding sources. It seems there are some “Duh” flaws as currently implemented. Only patrons of a select group of bars can play. Only select patrons can play, as there are a limited number of machines. Only those willing to change their gambling habit can play (from pieces of paper and all the “good luck” nuances the players use).
    We have watched the stadium debate go from should we to where, without ever answering the first question. We have watched the price tag double, then triple from the original $300,000,000. $300,000,000 is about what the team was worth when this “conversation” started. I’m not a fan of gambling (or taxing the math impaired), nor am I in favor of the state subsidizing billionaire’s toys. Especially an out-of-state billionaire that threatens to take his toys and play somewhere else (not exactly a loyal son of Minnesota). Especially when there are already two stadiums, one new and one servicable and upgradable. I suspect once the stadium is built Zig will sell the team for a tidy profit.
    I do recognize the deal is done, and needs a plan B. I suggest a more traditional paper based gambling game, available in every outlet that currently sells the Gopher 5 and other games of (fat)chance.

    • David P.

      Typo in first sentence: E-pull tabs might NOT be such a bad idea, …

  • David P.

    I’m trying to remember…it seems to me that a long, long time ago, We the People spent money on Wants and subsidizing billionaires, “paying” for it by not spending on Needs and using maxed-out credit cards. I can’t quite remember how that worked out. Can you?

  • David P.

    I’m trying to remember…it seems to me that a long, long time ago, We the People spent money on Wants and subsidizing billionaires, “paying” for it by not spending on Needs and using maxed-out credit cards. I can’t quite remember how that worked out. Can you?

  • JJQ

    Absolutely the state should put the stadium on hold till the financing is worked out!! If you were a responsible family planning a huge luxury purchase and found out your hours at work were being cut back by 90%, surely you would put the purchase on hold. The state legislators and Mark Dayton are all acting very irresponsibly by proposing to spend money they don’t have.

    I can’t believe Dayton has responded so angrily to this proposal. It is common sense to figure out the financing details before moving forward.

    Ted Mondale and Mark Dayton are also both irresponsible because before the stadium bill was passed, there were many, many citizens questioning whether electronic pulltab revenues would be as high as predicted. Mondale especially said over and over again he was positive there would be enough funding. Now that the funds are grossly under what is expected, I simply cannot believe that they propose moving forward anyway.

    I wish the legislators would listen to the citizens. It was amazing when the story broke that the gambling revenue predictions were provided by the vendors who produce them, that the political leaders claimed they had no idea. Seriously, Ted Mondale, you were absolutely certain the numbers were right, but you had no idea where they came from? If you were an executive at a company, you and Mark Dayton would have been fired on the spot!

  • JJQ

    Absolutely the state should put the stadium on hold till the financing is worked out!! If you were a responsible family planning a huge luxury purchase and found out your hours at work were being cut back by 90%, surely you would put the purchase on hold. The state legislators and Mark Dayton are all acting very irresponsibly by proposing to spend money they don’t have.

    I can’t believe Dayton has responded so angrily to this proposal. It is common sense to figure out the financing details before moving forward.

    Ted Mondale and Mark Dayton are also both irresponsible because before the stadium bill was passed, there were many, many citizens questioning whether electronic pulltab revenues would be as high as predicted. Mondale especially said over and over again he was positive there would be enough funding. Now that the funds are grossly under what is expected, I simply cannot believe that they propose moving forward anyway.

    I wish the legislators would listen to the citizens. It was amazing when the story broke that the gambling revenue predictions were provided by the vendors who produce them, that the political leaders claimed they had no idea. Seriously, Ted Mondale, you were absolutely certain the numbers were right, but you had no idea where they came from? If you were an executive at a company, you and Mark Dayton would have been fired on the spot!