Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

MinnPost logo 7th Anniversary

MinnPost’s online auction is now live!
Register and start bidding today

Parsing politics and numbers of Vikings stadium deal

News of a deal on a Vikings stadium rippled from coast to coast. At the Wall Street Journal Joe Barrett writes: “Minnesota officials unveiled plans Thursday for a new $975 million stadium on the site of the current Metrodome following months of talks that could keep the National Football League's Vikings in Minneapolis for the next 30 years. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams ownership, which is being wooed by investors eager to return the team to Los Angeles, rejected an initial offer by local authorities for a $124 million upgrade to the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams will submit their own plan to upgrade the stadium by May 1, rejecting a $124 million proposal to install new windows, a huge scoreboard and club seats, according to a statement from the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. Rams officials, who didn't return a call for comment, are being asked to foot 52% of the renovation costs. Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, told the Associated Press the rejection wasn't unexpected. ‘It's part of the dance,’ he said. Under terms of St. Louis's deal with the Rams, the 17-year-old stadium must be one of the eight best stadiums in the National Football League in 2015, using criteria spelled out in the contract. If not, the team can leave. Two separate groups are pursuing new stadiums in the Los Angeles area and at least one has reached out to the Rams, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Catharine Richert at MPR looks at some of the more obscure (but pricey) costs of the deal. One example: “To cover up-front costs, the Vikings stadium plan calls for state-issued appropriations bonds. These bonds are unique in that they require lawmakers to periodically approve payments from the state general fund to cover the debt service on the bonds. But they are also more expensive than traditional bonds, said Hubert H. Humphrey School Senior Fellow Jay Kiedrowski, who served as Minnesota's finance commissioner in the 1980s. ‘Appropriation bonds are more costly in the marketplace, because bond holders are less interested in having bonds that depend on the appropriation each year by the state for that purpose,’ Kiedrowski said. Unlike safer bonds that require the state to pledge all its resources to repay the bond, the appropriations bonds ‘don't have that full faith and credit pledge against them. They only have that expectation that each Legislature will pass the appropriation for those bonds,’ he said. If gambling or convention center tax revenue comes in lower than expected, the state will still have to dip into other pots of cash to cover the bond payments, Kiedrowski explained.”

Colleague Tim Nelson has a story saying: “Dayton acknowledged that that state share is about a third more than the limit he set last year. ‘It's the best deal we could negotiate,’ Dayton said. ‘I'm not entirely pleased with it. And others are not either. The legislators and the city council will have to decide if this, as Sen. [Julie] Rosen said, was the best deal available and possible, is good enough to proceed and put several thousand Minnesotans back to work.’ The plan would have the state pay its share with taxes generated by legalizing electronic pull tabs. State officials think that could bring in $72 million a year. Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chairman Ted Mondale said the state would have to pay debt service in stadium bonds of at least $38 million a year for the first 10 years. But the charities that run pull tabs say they're hesitant about the plan. King Wilson, head of Allied Charities of Minnesota, said charities are in the business of helping fund sports and civic programs, not subsidizing the Vikings. Without a break on their existing taxes, Wilson said he is not sure there will be much more pull tab revenue, electronic or otherwise.” Look, we’re all going to have to take a haircut to maintain our “big league-ness.”

Also at MPR, Martin Moylan reports on very good economic numbers for the state. “The positives included new employment and unemployment figures, likely growth in factory jobs, and strong sales at Twin Cities-based Target. The January employment and unemployment numbers from the Department of Employment and Economic Development were encouraging. The year started out nicely. said Steve Hine, DEED's director of research and chief labor market analyst. ‘We began 2012 with a very strong gain of 15,500 jobs. And as well as another drop in the unemployment of a tenth of a point to 5.6 percent,’ Hine said. … Hine also said revisions that provide greater accuracy to past job counts indicate the state has made solid progress in restoring the nearly 160,000 payroll jobs Minnesota lost in the recession. ‘About 48 percent of the jobs lost during the recession have now been regained, just under half,’ he said.”

Oh, and that DNR campground reservation system? Kind of a mess. Dave Orrick of the PiPress reports: “Minnesota's brand-spanking-new reservation system for campgrounds and cabins went live at 8 a.m. Thursday. And promptly crashed. As of 8 p.m., the system -- mndnr.gov/reservations -- remained down, redirected to a state Department of Natural Resources FAQ page, while DNR officials and an outside contractor tried to figure out what the issue was. ‘Within the first hour, we became aware that customers were having trouble getting online and also into the call center,’ said Amy Barrett, spokeswoman for the DNR's parks and trails division. ‘By midmorning, we decided it was better to take the whole thing down.’ She described the problem as ‘technical’ and said no one knew how long it would take to get the system back up and running. She said she hoped it would be back up Thursday. The new reservation system is run through a contract with New York-based US eDirect, one of two firms that bid on the rights to handle reservations for campsites and cabins.” Wait a minute … yesterday was Thursday.

He was how bombed? 0.32, says Jessica Flerming, in the PiPress. “The Apple Valley man who allegedly drove a Zamboni while drunk in January had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.32, according to charges filed this week in Dakota County District Court. Joel K. Bruss, 34, faces four charges, three gross misdemeanors and one misdemeanor, of driving while impaired in the Jan. 30 incident in which parents at an Apple Valley ice arena called police to report Bruss was driving a Zamboni erratically. When police arrived at Hayes Arena, Bruss had gotten the Zamboni stuck half on and half off the ice, according to the complaint. Bruss eventually got the machine free and when police confronted him, he admitted to drinking at his home before coming to work at the arena. Bruss told police he had driven to work in his personal vehicle.” … but was planning on driving “this big honker” home.

The pro-bridge crowd in Stillwater was celebrating yesterday. Mary Divine of the PiPress writes: “They were lifting ‘bridge brews’ at the Dock Cafe in Stillwater Thursday to celebrate news they've been waiting decades to hear. Supporters of a new St. Croix River bridge cheered, clapped and toasted Mayor Ken Harycki after he read a letter sent by Minnesota and Wisconsin Congressional leaders to President Obama urging him to sign the bill that would pave the way for a new four-lane bridge south of Stillwater. … a critical step would occur this summer when crews will bore test shafts in the river to do structural-load testing. MnDOT, however, faces another obstacle. It will need an OK from the city of Oak Park Heights, where the Minnesota approach to the bridge would be located. And Oak Park Heights officials reiterated Thursday that they won't sign off until money issues are settled. The question is who will pay for utilities, signal lights, trails, drainage ponds and frontage roads along Minnesota 36 -- estimated to be as much as $20 million for construction and $5.7 million for maintenance.”

Also via the PiPress, Christopher Magan covered the rowdy interaction between Burnsville school district officials and their taxpaying clients. “More than 150 residents packed the Diamondhead Education Center before Thursday night's regular board meeting to voice their anger over a $254,814 payout to Tania Chance, the district's former human-resources director. They demanded to know why Chance was paid to resign her post just seven months into a new two-year contract. Many also wanted the school board and district administrators to resign. They left with few answers. ‘I have a hard time believing it was in the long-term interest of the district, if you don't tell us why,’ said Mark Nesvig, a Savage resident. ‘I don't see how we can move forward with the current leadership we have in place.’ Board members listened to many angry comments, but they didn't reveal anything new regarding the reasons for Chance's departure. For the first time though, Chance broke her silence, issuing a statement via email Thursday night. ‘My empathy is with the public as I believe they fully deserve answers,’ Chance wrote. ‘I tried to bring the truth to light and, as one can see, I am no longer there. Forgiveness to all who demonstrated poor character, chose speculation, and spread false rumors when deserved information was withheld from them. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to provide any details. All I can suggest are proper data requests on current leadership.’" Is Officialese her first language?

Finally, Aaron Rupar of City Pages follows the latest in the NCAA’s war against the Fighting Sioux…nickname and logo. “The NCAA is officially out of patience when it comes to the University of North Dakota's controversial Fighting Sioux nickname. In a letter sent to the UND provost yesterday, Bernard W. Franklin, the NCAA's chief inclusion officer, wrote that UND ‘must forfeit competition’ if it does not scrub the ‘hostile and abusive’ Fighting Sioux name and Indian head logo from gear worn by athletes, school band members, cheerleaders, dancers, and mascots. UND had been planning to use the name and logo until a possible June referendum that could result in the school dropping the Fighting Sioux for good, but it's possible that the NCAA's hard-line letter will prompt UND administrators to drop the nickname sooner.” Isn’t “hostile and abusive” kind of, you know, hysterical? 

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

About the Author:

Comments (7)

Private sector effeciency

"The new reservation system is run through a contract with New York-based US eDirect, one of two firms that bid on the rights to handle reservations for campsites and cabins.”

Well, that's the private sector for you.

Just wait...

Just wait till you see what they're planning to do with the school trust lands...

It's a good thing employment is up

We wouldn't want to count on the unemployed to buy those electronic pull tabs.

The only good news I see in the stadium announcement is that it's not to be built in Arden Hills and I won't have to pay for it with local taxes. Beyond that, I can only hope that the majority of the House or Senate says, "No," to this insanity. Gov. Dayton was a lost cause on this issue before he was elected.

tania chance

Google her so you can see the video that has been mentioned. I cannot see how she was ever hired to begin with. The people that hired her and then gave her that contract should be fired. Of course at Burnsville getting fired means getting sent on a two-year vacation.

RE: tania chance

Bill, What is it about her appearance that, to you, screams, “Don’t hire her!)?

Rachel

"Wait till you see what they're planning to do with the school trust lands."

Please tell us what!

"Conflicts of interest"

Currently, the DNR manages most, if not all of school trust lands. A bill (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S1152.0.html&session=ls87) has been introduced to remove that management because it is felt that the trust lands don't make enough money, and the costs for the DNR to run it eat up too much profit. So, the bill sets up a committee, in part appointed by each house of the legislature and in part appointed by the governor. This committee will be allowed to manage the lands however they see fit, including developing the land and hiring /private/ companies to manage and/or /police/ the land. The chief author of the bill believed that it was a conflict of interest for the DNR to manage the land because the DNR can then supposedly use that land to cover DNR expenses. However, I've found that the management/operating costs of the school trust lands about 40% of its revenue, while my senator told me that it was more like 90% or more. About 75% of that is forest protection and management (timber management, planting, law enforcement, water management, etc.), and only about 20% is admin costs. (http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/lands_minerals/school_trust_lands_biennial_...) The bill also redirects the monies brought in by the school trust lands into the general fund...yeah, like they'll get back out once they end up there. I also note that the original author of the bill didn't see it as a conflict of interest for private companies to enforce the law (i.e., making the rights, or removal thereof, of individual citizens a profitable venture).