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Letter: Make the NFL Pay for a New Vikings Stadium

Woodbury’s Brian Marum makes the case against publicly financed stadiums.

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

 

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Kris Janisch May 01, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Got one "Boo" reply on Twitter to this. What do you think about public financing for stadiums?
HHF34 May 01, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It is not the function of government to give billionaires a place to make their money. They can play in TCF if they want a public stadium to use. There are far bigger issues in the State of Minnesota right now. Minnesota made a mistake building Target Field, and now they're set to do the same for the Vikings. Let them move to LA if it's such a big deal to have a new place to play!
Scott H May 01, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Well said Brian!
Kris Janisch May 01, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Vikings fan, I had to delete your post because of profanity. But please post it again without the swear word. It's a good perspective.
Viking Fan May 01, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Stop complaining about paying taxes; it's inevitable. Even if the stadium package flops in the legislature it's not like taxpayers are suddenly free from taxes; we'll still be paying taxes for other stuff. And its not like this tax money is gone forever, its being funneled into our own economy and it will put people back to work and generate more revenue for the state. We lose in the long run if the Vikings, who generate $50+ million a year, leave the state. I agree subsidizing a billionaire is morally questionable, but that's capitalism and our country has been doing it for years. Stop making Minnesota look pathetic, you don't roll over and die during harsh econmic times, you toughen up and continue working and investing in our future; that's what other NFL cities/states are doing. Football is an American tradition and you anti-stadium advocates are taking a huge dump on America. Go Vikings!! Go Minnesota!!
Kris Janisch May 01, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Thanks Vikings fan!
Linda Stanton May 01, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I'm all for the stadium, but not for the taxpayers to fund it. If the owners don't think the investment in the building is worth their risk, why should the taxpayers then be the ones to take the risk? Besides, going to live sporting events is VERY costly - many people who pay to fund it through taxes won't be able to afford it. Look at how the cost of tickets increased for the Twins games. The argument that 'well we already pay alot of taxes' Let's pay More! doesn't make any sense. It's pretty simple -funding recreational facilities is not a core function of government.
Dave Keifer May 02, 2012 at 01:33 AM
We all know that Minnesota will not be without an NFL team forever. We either pay the money now or let them leave and pay many times more to get a team to come here later on after we realize what we are missing. (ie North Stars -->Wild) There are MANY places that my taxes currently help pay for that I have never been to. To think that just because you wouldn't go to the new stadium means you wouldn't possibly benefit from it is ridiculous.
Richard Glasgow May 02, 2012 at 02:21 AM
It is not a function of Government to fund a Stadium Period. Sell stock to the public (I think that has been tried and worked just find to the east of us). Government once again is not the answer.
wwms May 02, 2012 at 04:27 AM
When school districts are borrowing money because the state is borrowing from their funding to balance the budget, I think we do have to be quite certain that the chosen funding source for a stadium will indeed be sufficient to fund it.
Kris Janisch May 02, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Not a bad idea of having it like the Packers. Also, you hear so much about how having an NFL team is part of being a first-class city (metro, in our case)... That part of it for you?
lynn betzold May 03, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Vikings: Win a Super Bowl, then maybe you can ask for a stadium...maybe!
Kris Janisch May 03, 2012 at 06:06 PM
That's actually not a bad point Lynn. If they hadn't stunk last year, would there be more support?
Scott H May 03, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Some government entity has to be the first to say "NO" to the NFL....this is a great opportunity for MN to finish 1st in something?
Kris Janisch May 03, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I can't seem to get a sense of whether a "no" actually means the Vikes would move. Also, here's the latest Strib piece on the proposal: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/150029955.html

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