Stadium subsidy debate heats up


Debate over new taxes to support building a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings is entering a critical phase as lawmakers decide what role tax payers should or should not have in funding the nearly $1 billion project.

Divisions are emerging among Minnesota’s big city mayors. If, as the leading plan proposes, Ramsey County enacts a half-cent sales tax increase then St. Paul would have the highest sales tax of any city in the state. It’s a distinction Mayor Chris Coleman is trying to avoid.

“They’re the Minnesota Vikings, they’re called that for a reason,” said Coleman. “If this is Minnesota’s team, then it’s Minnesota’s responsibility to figure out a way to make this thing work.”

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak continues to work on his plan to keep the team in his city.

Further outside of the Twin Cities metro area, the editorial board of the Duluth News Tribune writes that the stadium is a good idea, since Duluthians won’t have to pay for it unless they buy a jersey or go to a game.

In St. Paul, Joe Soucheray, a columnist for the Pioneer Press, comes to the opposite conclusion and says the stadium isn’t worth tax dollars. Part of his beef is the design of the Arden stadium.

The nearly $1 billion proposal to build a new stadium in Arden Hills includes language that would prevent the project from being put to a public vote. Members of a group opposed to the plan say they want to force a vote by changing city charters. City charters, used in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, are constitutional-style documents that determine how the city operates. The Star Tribune reports that opponents believe that if they get enough signatures to call for a vote on new wording within the charters that they could block tax dollars from going to build the stadium.

Even if you don’t get to have your say at the legislature, or if the charter proposals don’t go anywhere, Insight Now is hosting two economists on opposite sides of the debate over public subsidies of sports teams. Join the conversation and help shape the debate.

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