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Reaction is fast ... and furious ... to Minneapolis stadium plan

MORNING EDITION

Reaction to Minneapolis’ pitch for a new Vikings stadium erupted practically while Mayor R.T. Rybak was speaking Monday afternoon. CBSSports.com writes: “Team spokesman Lester Bagley said the Minneapolis offer had good points but that the team was not consulted as city officials assembled it. Bagley said the proposed Vikings share in the Minneapolis plan — $400 million, or 45 percent of the total cost — is more than the team wants to pay. The Minneapolis plan would require the demolition of the Metrodome, and the Vikings would play at the outdoor TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota for up to three seasons. Bagley said that would cost the team about $40 million in lost revenue, and that team officials are concerned about being fully competitive in the campus stadium. ‘We do appreciate the city stepping up and saying here's our proposal,’ Bagley said. ‘But we are going to continue negotiations with Ramsey County hopefully to put together a deal.' " Or at least use Ramsey County as a tool to drive down their contribution to Minneapolis.


Kevin Seifert, writing ESPN’s NFCNorth blog, says: “The Minneapolis proposal was an obvious response to recent reports that the Vikings are close to accepting a site offer from Ramsey County. That proposal hasn't been released, but infrastructure improvements are expected to push the total cost to above $1 billion if the stadium is ultimately built on Ramsey County's site in the suburb of Arden Hills. Much of the local business community supports a third site known as the Farmers Market, located behind baseball's Target Field. Rybak, however, prefers salvaging the Metrodome site. The government entity that initially championed the Farmers Market site, Hennepin County, pulled out of the running last week. Up to $150 million of the Vikings' eventual contribution was expected to come from the NFL through its G-3 stadium loan program. That program is tapped, however, and won't be refunded before the league agrees with its players on a new collective bargaining agreement.”

Our Jay Weiner says, “[T]he plan is serious, has downtown business and construction union backing and seems to have stopped (at least temporarily) the Vikings in their inexorable tracks to what they hoped — and, apparently, still hope — is a frillier, big-honking, far more expensive marriage with Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega and their colleagues. The result would be a stadium and related development in Arden Hills, price unknown, and costs of roads very unknown for now. An important final calculation by the Minnesota Department of Transportation on exactly how much road work could cost around the Arden Hills site is expected any day now. That could be the straw that breaks the suburb’s back.”

Weiner links to e-democracy.org, a community board where comments include these:

From Jennifer Gisslen Lee: “Wow.  I'm dumbfounded.  And that's saying a lot since I didn't think that my
expectations for the City Hall electeds could sink any further. So I guess the pols at City Hall took everyone's complaining about how high their property taxes are as outrage only about taxes on property and not that we might feel the same way about other taxes being jacked up (especially those taxes that are not based on a person's ability to pay and are being raised and used not out of need but out of want to benefit rich people during these extraordinarily economically difficult times) ... Not only do we get to continue to pay the county-wide sales tax for the Twins grass palace, if Mr. Rybak et al get their way, we'll now have to pay more for 3 different city sales taxes throughout the whole city for a brand-spanking new nearly $1 billion Vikings palace?  Naive little me, I thought when I heard that Hennepin County was pulling out of negotiations that we might be spared paying for this particular boondoggle at this time.”

From Gayle Bonneville: “I'm almost speechless. I never thought I'd say this, but this unarmed robbery being perpetrated by the mayor and city council almost makes the Hennepin County Twins tax look mild in comparison. This whopping load of new taxes and "robbing Peter to pay Paul" schemes are outrageous and counter-intuitive to success. We're already up into the realm of First Tier cities when it comes to sales taxes. And in case you haven't traveled much, we ain't no First Tier city. I feel sorry for all the local, neighborhood business that will be sales-taxed right out of businesses due to customers avoiding them. This will lead to further degradation of our neighborhood commercial corridors, and here in my neighborhood they are already hanging on by a thread on a good day. We are not downtown; we don't get tourists and conventions supporting our local businesses and helping to keep their doors open. Sales taxes are, of course, one of the most regressive forms of taxation and will most hurt the people who can least afford them. Shameful. I am also astounded by Rybak's disregard for the voters and taxpayers.”

Speaking of voter approval … Jeff Davis — no, not that Jeff Davis — of the Minnesota Majority rips into the Strib ... in the Strib ... for its position against a referendum on banning gay marriage: “The issue before the Minnesota Legislature is not whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in Minnesota. It is whether the people of Minnesota should have the right to vote on the issue, just as voters in 31 other states have already done. The paper is out on a ledge with its ‘no vote of the people’ position. Seventy-four percent of Minnesotans believe voters, not the courts or the Legislature, should decide this issue. ... The editorial rails against enshrining ‘bigotry’ in the state Constitution. Interestingly, the paper appears to concede that the amendment will pass, as this is the only way it could be ‘enshrined’ in the Constitution. On that point we can agree. But there's nothing bigoted about preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is a unique institution that brings men and women together. Only the sexual union of men and women can produce children.” But, you know, Jeff, expensive dinners are another “unique institution” that bring men and women together.

Veterans were the latest group getting in on the “don’t gore my ox” parade at the Capitol. Don Davis of the Forum papers writes: “Dozens of veterans, many wearing American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars hats, packed a legislative committee room after Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Shellito sent Gov. Mark Dayton a letter saying a veterans’ home could close if the Republican-written budget is enacted. Shellito told the committee that with 139 veterans’ home employees, a 15 percent cut in workers as budget negotiators are discussing would leave him no choice. Even if cuts are lower, Shellito said, ‘the homes are going to be affected. The homes are going to have to be looked at very, very seriously.’ Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, was upset with what his boyhood friend was saying. Lanning, chairman of the House State Government Finance Committee, said veterans’ programs would be exempt from 15 percent cut. The House bill does not specifically leave veterans out of the cuts, while the Senate bill does. Lanning told reporters later that he would be willing to change the bill to make it clear that veterans’ programs should not be cut. The Senate measure already exempts veterans, the military, law enforcement and corrections employees.” Obviously the trick for everyone else expecting cuts is to start wearing a uniform.

Today in Bachmannia: Ari Shapiro of NPR — the home office — files a story on our favorite congresswoman. Along the way he says, “Jerome Christenson, the deputy editor of the Winona Daily News in Minnesota, says Bachmann ‘was really pretty enthusiastic for Jimmy [Carter]. ‘I think at the time,’ he says, ‘one of the things that might have attracted her was Carter's Baptist roots.’ Christenson was Bachmann's classmate at Winona State University in the '70s. He encouraged her to run for vice president of the student senate — a seat she won. But even though her party label changed, Christenson says, the Minnesota congresswoman preparing a presidential run today is not too different from the effusive college student he knew 35 years ago. ‘Stridently evangelical Christian,’ he says he'd call her today. But back then, he says, ‘we just called her a Jesus freak. Generally, the folks that promoted themselves as being Christian were pretty apolitical. They were friends of Jesus, and that was about it.’ Christenson describes her as a bridge between students of deep Christian faith and those of political passions.”

Do NOT tell Scott Walker. A high-speed rail link from the Twin Cities to Duluth will get $5 million in federal research money. Pat Doyle of the Strib writes: “The money was part of $2 billion in awards announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and intended to speed up trains on the East Coast and expand service in the Midwest. ... the award allows Minnesota to move forward with engineering plans for the Northern Lights Express line, which is intended to have 110 mile-per-hour service. Without the money, he said, the work probably would have been delayed until the summer of 2012. The line between Minneapolis and Duluth would cost $600 million to $800 million to build, and financing is far from certain. Many Minnesota GOP legislators oppose state funding for rail projects, and some have proposed canceling authority to borrow $25 million for them.”

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Comments (6)

Jeff Davis: "The issue... is whether the people of Minnesota should have the right to vote on the issue"

Mr. Davis,

We already vote for a well-established and regulated representative government. "The people" vote directly on very few issues, and when we do, it should be awfully darned important (and there should be a demonstrated inability to address the issue any other way). This proposed amendment accomplishes nothing, and has already been addressed (several times, IIRC) through our elected representatives. I see no reason, other than politics, to waste any more time on it at present.

Interesting that the Legislature ignores the fact that, with the last poll, 75% of Minnesotans don't think that the Vikings should get ANY public money, and still the proposal is on the table.

On the other hand, they believe the "issue...is whether the people of Minnesota should have the right to vote on [gay marriage]," when in fact I didn't know there was a swelling majority that WANTED to vote on it, let alone that it is right or even legal under the US Constitution to vote on the rights of minorities.

Mr. Davis (and other MN legislators), just when do we get a say in what we want and don't want? It seems obvious to me that this, and pretty much everything in the legislature right now, is merely a political game, and I appreciate it very little.

How stupid do they think we are? Of course, the outrage is mostly silent.

The outrage is indeed mostly silent. Doesn't have to be. The forms to contact the mayor and the council president are here:

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/forms/mayor-opinion/
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/ward4/

Why tax us to support a stadium? I'd much rather support schools, including the University.

Look at the poll numbers. Citizens don't support this. Thanks to Dmitri Drekonja's comments above, I'll email the mayor and my council person.

Gayle Bonneville:

True, Minneapolis is not first tier, but I always like to look at this rank of Fortune 500 companies by city:

New York NY 45
Houston TX 22
Dallas TX 10
Atlanta GA 10
Minneapolis MN 9
Chicago IL 8
St. Louis MO 8
San Francisco CA 8
Charlotte NC 7
Cincinnati OH 6

If we would've let the Twins and Vikings leave in the 80's by not building a stadium, we wouldn't be on this list. We are a city that values spending tax dollars on entertainment of all kinds to keep private jobs within our borders, even if it's called "art" or "educational." These ventures help make our city of 350,000 one of national recognition to the artsy, the sporto, and the hipster. Most people moving want these things (along with education) more than a balanced budget.

Daniel,

That 9 count is stretching it. I'll certainly credit 19 in the metro area. But General Mills corporate is effectively in Golden Valley. Medtronic is in the northern suburbs with the other large med-tech companies (Fridley, Brooklyn Center, Shoreview). Nash Finch says they're headquartered in Minneapolis, but corporate is in Edina. Alliant Techsystems is in Edin Prairie, Plymouth, and Anoka.

I count five Fortune 500 corporate headquarters that are actually within Minneapolis city limits.