There is a lot of discussion at the end of the legislative session on whether a plan can be put together for the state to help with the construction of a Vikings stadium.
Since we are in a bonding year, it appears that this is the time to discuss this issue. However, with all of the pressing issues facing this state, one would think this would be very low on the priority list.
But, politicians being what they are, it becomes great political theater and the debate morphs into a discussion as to who are the biggest Viking fans.
But, on a practical note, why is this discussion even on the table? Minnesota families and businesses are still struggling due to an economy that is stuck in a rut.
Yet, the people with a vested interest in seeing a stadium built see an opportunity and are striking while the iron is hot. They even brought their heavyweights (the commissioner NFL) to town last week to make their case.
The case against the construction of a stadium for the Vikings is quite clear to anyone who is willing to take emotion out of the debate. No amount of deal-making in regard to racino or other expansions of gambling is going to make this an economic winner. The data presented on gaming revenues to help fund this enterprise is simply a projection.
What will happen if the projection falls short? Who makes up the difference? The taxpayer.
So, why is it fair for taxpayers to be on the hook for financing a stadium that so many will not attend? We know that when politicians want to pass something like this, they will always over-sell the benefits (and revenue projections) and downplay the costs.
Case in point: In 1965, Medicare was projected to cost no more than $9 billion by 1990 (Medicare Part A). However, by 1990 the system cost $66 billion.
Why do we continue to let politicians do this? How much longer are we going to put up with it?
We know any projection will be false and misleading to sell the project. If it is built, the taxpayer will be footing a great deal of the costs for years to come. In our already highly strained economic situation, why would we purposely add more weight on the backs on Minnesota citizens and businesses.
Solution: The NFL is a profitable organization. It can well afford a new stadium without the help of the citizens, many of whom have no interest in professional sports.
The NFL, like any other organization, could do something as novel as floating bonds. Then, any interested party (fans, investors, etc.) could partake in the construction, leaving the taxpayers out of it.
But, the NFL does not do something like this because they know they can pit city against city, state against state, and threaten to move if their infrastructure is not provided for wholly or at least partially by the various municipalities.
Within the last several months, the Vikings negotiated the contract of its star player. It is understood by this writer that the contract was for $100 million over a number of years. With that in mind, it appears there is plenty of money available. If the Vikings can do that, surely they could pay the full cost of their stadium. But if they can pressure the state to get involved, they mostly certainly will.
The teams and/or the league need to pay the full cost of their stadia and not put financial risk onto the taxpayer.
—Brian Marum, Woodbury