Soccer stadium contingent on ‘government money,’ landowner says

If he’s frustrated by it, Bill McGuire, the man behind the effort to bring MLS to downtown Minneapolis, can end the speculation on whether he’ll be seeking public subsidies for a new stadium anytime he wishes. He just has to answer the question.

That he is shying away from the answer is understandable; it’s a third-rail for politicians who accurately gauge public opinion on handing out tax money — especially around April 15 — to some of the richest people in the country.

Today, the Star Tribune claims the owner of the land on which McGuire and his partners want to build a stadium thinks “this whole deal is contingent upon government money.”

(Robert) Salmen expressed frustration that the deal hasn’t closed, since the group could easily share the cost of a $150 million stadium. “We’ve taken two years to get to this point and we’re nowhere so far,” Salmen said.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who aided the effort to secure the franchise, remained mum late last week about what — if anything — he might propose relating to the area around the stadium. “Nothing is imminent,” Opat said.

Another commissioner, Jan Callison, said stadium funding is a “challenge.”

“People are wary to say the least, and in some cases clearly hostile to the idea of a public subsidy into a stadium,” Callison said.

The paper says businesses in the area of the proposed stadium are worried a development could shut them down.

Related: Target Center boosters overstating its success (Minnesota Public Radio News).

  • Gary F

    Not sure how far they will get with this one. There isn’t the big scare tactic of a team leaving town.

    • Stranger things have happened in the middle of the night in the last days of a legislative session.

      • Gary F

        That’s the problem.

      • Duke Powell

        Yep, these guys know that government just can’t help themselves….

    • jon

      The vikings claimed “We waited our turn, the T-wolves got taken care of, the twins got a stadium, now give us one!” when they were looking to get their new stadium. I’m sure MLS folks will say the same “We waited, and then you gave away our chance to play at a stadium you already paid for, why don’t you want to fix your mistake?!”

      I think that it’s pretty much DOA at the capital though with the vikings stadium still under construction… perhaps when the glow of the new bird killer is up and running people will be more able to stomach the cost of building another new one, much like when target field was new and shiny.

      • Point of order: The vikings never claimed the TWolves got taken care of. That came after the Vikings.

        I still think they’re going to end up redirecting sales tax money in HennCo originally earmarked for Target Field.

        • Laurie

          Flipping, sticky nails and trash bags courtesy of tax payers and that’s how we roll on the B Honor Roll. Were you invited?

        • Duke Powell

          How about the money targeted to the Hennepin Libraries?

  • Ed Kohler

    One thing we can count on is rich people (and the elected officials who look out for them) teaming up with construction companies/labor groups (and the elected officials who look out for them) coming to the conclusion that this is an important use of public money. They’ll be wrong, again, but that hasn’t stopped them before.

  • John O.

    I would be shocked if Blaine and the National Sports Center just stood aside and let the team move downtown without any pushback.

    • BJ

      How or why would they stop them? They have plenty of events without them.

      • John O.

        There has been a long-standing business and soccer connection between youth soccer and the old Minnesota Thunder and the current MNUnited. A lot of dollars have changed hands because of the pro soccer there. Moving it downtown isn’t going to turn the NSC into a ghost town, but it will have an effect.

  • Postal Customer

    “in some cases clearly hostile”

    There is clear hostility ahead of all stadium deals. That doesn’t mean a stadium won’t happen.

  • BJ
    • That publication has a habit of taking the stupidest comments — or outright making them up — and then treating dismissing arguments against public funding by portraying them as somehow representative of some legitimacy.

      At the same time, the refusal of the group to say anything specific about public funding, prevents any definitive debate on important public policy.

      I assume this is a coordinated strategy.

      The problem is it appears the MLS has a deadline. And with McGuire’s “say nothing” strategy, the time between the when the team finally says something and the time when they get the money is compressed, allowing very little involvement in a considered and informed discussion by the public.

      • BJ

        >’That publication has a habit’

        That ‘publication’ is about 3 weeks old.

        > this is a coordinated strategy

        Most of the authors are just regular fans.

        >treating dismissing arguments against public funding by portraying them as somehow representative of some legitimacy

        Almost to the person all of the authors on the site have said anything above infrastructure funding by government is something they are against.

      • Wes

        c’mon Bob. You are seriously better than this. You and I have had a couple of what I thought were interesting and thoughtful exchanges on this subject. If you’re going to accuse us of things, then the exchange apparently isn’t thoughtful anymore.
        Now, you want to stand up against all this money going to billionaires. Good for you. I am with you on that. But you’re digging your head in the sand if you don’t see that for the most part the backlash against the soccer stadium is fueled by politicians who made a huge mistake on the Vikings stadium and people making completely uninformed comments like those the Northern Pitch article responds to.
        Yes, McGuire needs to speak, but we already know from MinnPost (doing journalism, not speculation) that this will be funded by the highest % of private money yet.
        But please don’t accuse another publication of coordinated strategies.

      • Ser Brvcio McGvire

        Do some actual reporting on this subject, then get back to me. We at Northern Pitch have broken many of the current story lines against the teams wishes, and if we get wind of how they plan to pay for a stadium you can be guaranteed that we will right that story if we can confirm it. Sadly, you have no idea what you are talking about when referring to us at Northern Pitch. And I am fine if you disagree with what we write, but dont make things up like, “I assume this is a coordinated strategy.” That makes you look foolish.

        • Wait. What? You broke stories against the team’s wishes but you don’t coordinate? I see.

          Your publication doesn’t do reporting; it does cheerleading.

          • Wes

            If you had more than a passing knowledge of any of us, you would know that most of us actually oppose and have opposed major public funds being used for stadiums. But are you really going to write a blog post like this and say that we don’t do reporting? Seriously?

          • Ser Brvcio McGvire

            For the rest of you that want to know a little bit more about soccer in Minnesota, besides the stuff Bob makes up, come to where I live. I guess its now Cheerleaderville. Yes I am very pro-soccer biased. Thats why I write and podcast about it. I don’t write about things I am biased against.

    • Postal Customer

      Those “arguments” are exceedingly weak, and only one of them has to do with a stadium (#6, which the guy even admits may be a legit argument). And then there’s #7, which, you might have noticed HAS HAPPENED. Everyone wants a stadium and we haven’t said no yet.

      When I read about teachers being laid off, then I read about yet another billionaire wanting yet another stadium, it makes me want to not read the news anymore.

      • BJ

        >”arguments” are exceedingly weak

        yep, hence the title – worst anti stadium arguments.

        • Postal Customer

          Touche. That’s not what I meant though. I’m saying that he chose to address arguments that have nothing to do with stadiums as a means of defending stadiums.

          • Let’s come up with a list of the best ones, then.

          • BJ

            I can’t think of any reason to have government pay for any ‘construction’ on a stadium.

            I can think of several reasons for government to pay for ‘site’ cleanup (superfund site or other needed legacy issues like that that Surly and Saints construction had) and infracture.

            I could be talked into some tax incentives – not paying sales tax on building material has been mentioned in the press – but pretty hard pressed to find a good reason for that.

          • Why is it the public’s job to clean up a site that is currently owned by a private interest and is being sold to a private interest?

          • Wes

            please. Actually do this. You have not done it so far. In fact, you have done little more than speculate about what might happen “in the middle of the night.” Sure, McGuire isn’t talking, but you’re reading the negative space as some grand conspiracy that will put chips in our foreheads and bring upon the mark of the beast.

          • No, I’m saying the refusal to say anything about the stadium funding compresses the opportunity for a discussion of public policy to the point where it has no value.

            There’s no need to make up what I’m saying. Because there it is.

            If there’s a July deadline to have a stadium plan in place, and it’s now April, and public financing in some way hasn’t been ruled out, when do you think would be a good time to start the discussion?

            Now, if there’s NO public taxpayer involvement, then just say that, and then go do whatever it is you want to do on the site.

            This isn’t hard.

            But, see, this is what your publication does. It consistently makes up foolish and irrelevant opposing arguments, so that it can dismiss them, while it ignores the arguments on the stadium that are actually made.

            You should stop doing that.

          • Wes

            First of all, stop with this “consistently” thing. Two articles. You’re referring to two articles. Don’t embellish.
            Second, the overwhelming 99% comments (not just trolling on the bottom of articles) have been exactly these types of arguments. I have heard them from politicians, so I don’t dismiss them as easily as you.
            Third, please go ahead and finally make the argument that someone can actually respond to. Where is the argument against this being part of a larger project with the SWLRT and farmer’s market? I’d love to see that. I’d probably agree with most of it.
            Fourth, where was your skepticism and standing up against the rich when the St. Paul Saints got their stadium? Do you only have problems with money going to billionaires and not millionaires? That is not an attempt to say United should get money too, but it is pointing out as NP has done that there is a hypocrisy in some of the reporting around this issue. And it comes from reporters not knowing anything about soccer.
            Fifth, you are very right about compressing the public discussion. I have also publicly written that I want McGuire to open up his plans. But can you blame someone for being quiet when reporters and politicians say preemptively “no more money”?

          • // But can you blame someone for being quiet when reporters and politicians say preemptively “no more money”?

            Ummm…. yes.

          • Wes

            speaking of selectively responding…

          • If your question is what’s the difference between CHS and McGuire, I think one answer is the Saints and Coleman didn’t get cute on the question of how it would be built.

          • BJ

            >defending stadiums
            I don’t think it was a means of defending stadiums per se. I think it was trying to have the conversation without the anger that vikings and twins deals have left with people.

          • Postal Customer

            But you might have noticed that “arguments” 1-4 are all the same and are not arguments made by thoughtful anti-stadium people.

            I do not care two wits whether we have a soccer team here. If somebody wants a soccer team, have a soccer team. It’s the public financing of stadiums that is the issue.

          • BJ

            As of yet not one person has actually asked for public financing of a soccer stadium (besides the wilfs and they don’t have a team and was to just get the Vikings a stadium).

          • Postal Customer

            The writing is on the wall.

          • BJ

            Three of the most powerful politicians in the area/state have out right said NO money.

            Governor, Mayor and Senate Leader.

            I would say writing is on the wall it will be privately financed, except for the things government does (roads etc), and maybe a tax break or two.

          • What kind of tax break? and why?

          • BJ

            I’m not for it, but could be talked into it. Like no sales tax on materials (steel) sourced from Minnesota raw material (ore).

            I can’t justify anything so someone else would have to convenience me it makes some kind of sense.

          • You’re overlooking county government. Considering it was Hennepin County that delivered the public financing component for Target Field, that’s something you may want to reconsider.

          • BJ

            I didn’t overlook them. One county board member has publicly supported the team, but hasn’t said what financial support might be offered.

          • Pat Reusse is onboard. That fairly boggles the mind.

          • THIS is the part that’s driving me crazy. You can’t have a “thoughtful” discussion on this stadium because “no one has actually asked for public financing.” and yet, the ownership group refuses to say whether it will ask for public financing.

            Meanwhile, the clock (allegedly) ticks from the MLS for having a stadium in place, compressing the opportunity to have that thoughtful discussion, possibly to the point where there won’t be one.

            Just tell us what you want, Mr. McGuire, and let’s get the debate going.

          • BJ

            What happens if they offer to pay for everything ask for nothing except the permit approvals?

            Seriously. Public debate is over rated.

            Not one politician lost their county or state office for supporting Twins or Vikings stadium dollars. It will not happen for supporting a Soccer Stadium. I say only half joking. There is a reason I don’t work in political campaigns anymore.

          • // Not one politician lost their county or state office for supporting Twins or Vikings stadium dollars

            I see what you did there.

            anyone know if Jerry Janezich likes soccer?

          • BJ

            😉

          • BJ

            >not arguments made by thoughtful anti-stadium people.

            Sure. What is the thoughtful anti-stadium argument?

          • Laurie

            “When I read about teachers being laid off, then I read about yet another billionaire wanting yet another stadium, it makes me want to not read the news anymore.” -Dave M
            Now, that was thoughtful.

          • BJ

            That is an argument to get better politicians in office.

  • Eric B

    And this landowner bases this assertion on what, precisely? Even if McGuire does ask for public money, he’s not going to get it. The most he’ll get is infrastructure improvements around the stadium and maybe some tax breaks, if he’s lucky.