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Vikings stadium bill will need a ‘miracle’ after committee defeat, sponsor says

Reps. Terry Morrow and Morrie Lanning
MinnPost photo by James Nord
Reps. Terry Morrow and Morrie Lanning present the Vikings stadium bill on Monday.

After the final vote had been taken, after most of the reporters and spectators and testifiers had left the room, Rep. Morrie Lanning’s hands still were quivering.

For seven years, Lanning, a Republican from Moorhead, has been carrying Vikings stadium bills. After last night’s vote by the House Government Operations committee, it appears that his work is not any closer to being done.

By a 9-6 vote, the House committee voted against even moving the stadium bill forward without recommendation.

In sports terminology, the contest was closer than the final vote indicated. Lanning said he’d been told by Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, that he’d support moving the bill out of committee. But in the end, Quam opposed the measure. A “yes” vote would have made it 8-7.

Another Republican, Rich Murray of Albert Lea, clearly was struggling with how to vote.

The first time his name was called, he passed. When all others had voted and it was his turn again, he paused, finally voting “no.”  Had Quam and Murray voted “yes,” the stadium bill would have survived to limp through another day. Another Republican, David Hancock of Bemidji, also had said he was “torn” before voting “no.”

Only one DFL vote in support

But one thing should be clear. It wasn’t the Republicans who blocked movement of the stadium bill. Just one of the six DFLers on the 15-member committee, Michael Nelson of Brooklyn Park, supported the measure.

Though not surprised by their votes, Lanning was particularly irked that the representatives of “the host region’’ voted “no.’’

Both Reps. Frank Hornstein and Marion Greene of Minneapolis were “no votes,” as were two Hennepin County reps, Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley and Steve Simon of St. Louis Park.

“You had four people from the host city,” said Lanning. “When you don't get support by the host, which will benefit the most, what can you do?”

Is the stadium dead for this session?

“It will take a miracle to have it come back,” said Lanning.

“Only if leadership really wants to make it happen,” said Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, who had sat with Lanning and urged members to let this issue get to the floor.

At this point, that seems unlikely. House Speaker Kurt Zellers never has wanted to get out front on the Vikings stadium. The vote by this committee would seem to give him cover not to push forward.

No Senate committee has even taken up the bill yet. Given the seeming lack of enthusiasm by that body for dealing with the stadium, it seems like a tall order to expect the Senate to act now that a House committee has said no.

Even though it’s not particularly surprising that the stadium bill again may be nearing the end of the line, there was still a bit of a shocked silence in the wake of the vote.

What now?

Is it really over? Could the Vikings move? In many ways, the pressure in the stadium game gets even more intense now. The threats that the team might move will become more explicit.

The Vikings’ Lester Bagley wouldn’t quite play that card last night.

But after the vote, he came close.

“This is a strong message to the Vikings and the NFL,” Bagley said.

Was that a threat?

“It’s a mistake to think the Vikings and the NFL will continue in this situation indefinitely,” he said.

Was that a threat?

“We’ve still got two more weeks [of the session],” he said.


MinnPost photo by James NordVikings Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley testifying before the committee on Monday.

In trying to sway the committee, chaired by Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, Lanning and Morrow played every card they had.

Morrow pounded home the idea that the bill would help charities (because the bill is tied to electronic pull-tabs), jobs and, ultimately, the state.

Using  numbers from Ted Mondale, who heads the stadium commission, Morrow said the state would actually make $150 million over the life of the deal because of income taxes collected from players and Vikings’ front-office personnel.

For his part, Lanning talked of pragmatic politics.  If the committee stopped the progress of the bill, he said, the issue would stay alive.

“Two years ago, a stadium bill was stalled in this committee,” he told the committee members as they were about to vote.

By failing to act then, he said, the committee merely kept the issue on the front pages.   The only way the stadium issue will stop making “front-page headlines,” he said, is for the full House and Senate to “vote up or down.”

Until that happens, this issue is going to dog every legislator in every race in every district in the state.

Labor and business support not enough

Lanning and Morrow were far from alone in pushing for a “yes” vote.

Labor and business leaders testified in support of the measure, although the business leaders testimony was picked apart by Winkler.

Both Winkler and Hornstein believe that more private money should go into this project. (As the bill exists, the Vikings would pay $427 million, the state $398 million and Minneapolis $150 million.)

Elliot Jaffee of U.S. Bank and John Griffith of Target testified to the importance of the project, which opened the door for Winkler.

“Would you support a corporate income tax to support the stadium?” Winkler asked the two.

“We’re supportive of the bill as it is,” said Jaffee.

“We’re the most philanthropic corporation in America,” said Griffith.

Winkler was not impressed.

“The business community is happy to step up and support this without having to pay for it,” he said.

Neither of the executives responded.

Foes of the project also testified, though typically as individuals.

As it turned out, though, the foes didn’t need large institutional support from unions or chambers of commerce.  They had solid backing from the committee, especially Peppin.

Going into last night’s vote, Lanning had hoped there merely would be a voice vote on the measure. That had happened when the bill passed out of the House Regulatory and Reform Committee.

A voice vote, of course, protects legislators from being accountable for how they actually voted.

But Peppin made it clear she was going to have no part of that sort of deal.

“We’re going to be transparent,” she said, forcing a roll call of the committee members.

From the outset, Peppin obviously was not a supporter of the measure.

Minneapolis officials grilled

She was disgusted by the way Minneapolis city officials appear to be sidestepping their city’s  charter, which calls for a citywide referendum if more than $10 million is to be spent on a sports facility. She peppered Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson about the meaning of the charter.

“What is the value of the charter?” she asked Johnson. “The language is pretty clear. Don’t you view the charter as a valid document?”


MinnPost photo by James NordMinneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson sitting in the audience before the Vikings stadium bill hearing began Monday night.

Johnson and Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal each attempted to answer the questions but could not impress Peppin, who proposed an amendment that seemingly would have been an attempt to open the door to a referendum in Minneapolis.

The amendment “passed easily.” But given that neither Morrow nor Lanning appeared dismayed, there was apparently comfort that down the line the amendment would have been deleted.

Another amendment — proposed by Winkler — dropped Hennepin County’s “excess” ballpark tax as a backup revenue source to the football stadium, if gaming money falls short of projections.  That amendment also easily passed.

But even in a weakened form, even though committee members were being asked only to move the bill on without recommendation, it failed.

“What else can you do?” wondered a weary-looking Lanning.

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Comments (36)

Say what?

"But one thing should be clear. It wasn’t the Republicans who blocked movement of the stadium bill."

Sorry. This can't be laid at the feet of the DFL.

The GOP holds the majority. They didn't need DFL votes to pass voter suppression or marriage discrimination amendments to the voters.

They certainly don't need DFL votes to give the Vikings a stadium.

Rebut

5 of Six DFL'ers voted against. Including two from Minneapolis. Including one Frosh named Greene who has a constituent named Mark Dayton. DFL could have passed this. The Repubs on the committee voted 5-4 in favor. Lay it right on the feet-knees-scalps of the DFL.

Could you tell me exactly why

Could you tell me exactly why the DFL should be the heavy lifters for the GOP?

A session characterized by bad comity from beginning to today?

Especially when they know the fate in the full house?

Charlie Brown doesn't have to try to kick the football that Lucy is holding.

Sorry, but...

The GOP has shown themselves to be more than capable of passing bills without a single DFL vote. The failure to do so in this case is entirely at their feet. That's the way holding a majority works.

GOP Could Have Passed This

If the Republicans on the committee had all voted in favor, or if even just two more had voted in favor, the bill would have passed. No DFL votes were necessary.

It's a little late in the session to be grousing about a lack of DFL cooperation.

I Figure Ziggy and the Vikings Could Pay for Their Own Stadium

Out of pocket change.

Still, I suspect our Republican legislative leaders are torn between supporting the most macho of professional sports, always a plus with their macho male supporters, and those co-dependent women who don't feel "complete" without a macho male at their sides...

and fearfully quaking in the face of their Tea Party base which regards government support for ANYTHING as nothing more nor less than money being stolen right out of their own bank accounts.

Their fear of the base obviously trumped their fear of the business community which sought to benefit from this new stadium.

Could it be any more clear (especially considering their sorry financial state), that the Republican Party in Minnesota has now driven away it's former moderate and pragmatic business-based supporters and given itself NO choice but to jump into the laps of the Tea Party types.

Clearly the former Tea Party inmates, who, for many years, were kept under control by rank manipulation and dishonest "talking points," have burst free from those bounds and have now taken over the Republican asylum.

This year's state Republican Convention (and perhaps the National Convention, as well) should be a riot (quite literally).

So much effort and angst over

So much effort and angst over this issue, which, in the end, determines the course of very few lives.

What happened to the DFL?

What happened? Oh for the days when Bernie Brommer or Regent Roe could tap a smart frosh Minneapolis Rep on the shoulder and give a look that meant political destruction for those who opposed a labor backed bill. The feminazation and liberalization of the DF of Labor is now complete.

Governor's Clout

Correct me if I am wrong. But FRESHMAN Marion Greene of District 60A voted 'no' last night. Does she not have a constituent named Mark Dayton? Gov. Dayton can not pull rank on one of the most Jr members of his party. Pathetic!

Constituent's Clout

Correct me if I'm wrong, but FRESHMAN Rep. Greene has a few thousand other constituents besides Mark Dayton. If the tone of 60A is anything like that of my neighboring area of the city, FRESHMAN Rep. Greene was reflecting the wishes of the majority of his constituency.

It's not the Governor's place to "pull rank" on a member of a supposedly co-equal branch of government (not even a FRESHMAN). He is the state's chief executive, not a party whip.

Lame Duck

Greene is also a lame duck. She was redistricted into a district with Rep Hornstein. When she lost the endorsement, she dropped out of the race.

But where would they go?

Been back and forth through the LA Times site this morning. Saw no evidence that a stadium had been built overnight. Did see an article about a stadium being piggybacked onto Staples Center had been scuttled.

Will the GOP leadership just plop the bill on the House floor?

Can't get it done in committee..."smoke" the bill directly to the floor!

Isn't that what happened last year? Wasn't that the way the state was shut down? There little attention paid to the session's committee deliberations. There was simple Sen. Koch and Rep. Zellers jamming everyone against the wall at the last minute.

Why would Rep. Zellers begin paying attention to committees at this point? It's not in his background...ahem...unless of course, it's an election year, then it's usually a good idea to follow due process and listen to your committees. Due process means respecting the wisdom of committee deliberations and decisions. And, after all, it is an election year.

The GOP are "caught in irons" with their pledge of new taxes! (“Caught in irons” is what sailors cried when running before heavy seas, the kind that are too large to allow the boat to “come about” and ride’m out -- the men on deck realized if they tried to come about and head the boat's bow into the wind they would get halfway, roll over and lay sideways in the trough and keep rolling like a log.)

I want to assure the GOP that eating crow is a suitable dish for any occasion, cold, hot, stuffed or not. You fellas have been serving the big money too long and now look at what a fine mess you are in months ahead of election.

I suggest you apologize and bring back the White Earth Nation. They are the answer. The GOP should listen to them and keep the Vikings in Minnesota, avoid no new taxes, and eat a little crow.

Crow is a nutritious health food for politicians.

priorities

It's still hard to believe, in the face of ongoing service cuts & tight budgets, there are politicians who prioritize a subsidy to the NFL over our citizens' healthcare, education, or even the infrastructure that we all rely on. It is time to put this ridiculous issue to rest & focus on the proper role of government.

Morrow is wrong, and other problems

The fiigure that Morrow was using come from a Convention Sports and Leisure (CSL) report from last year. I actually dissected that report in my blog at the time: http://pudstrand.fatcow.com/blog/?p=123

The problem is that the timeline is fudged, it's stretched out to 40 years instead 30 years, it assumes that this stadium unlike the dome, will never age, and that the Vikings will always be content with their revenue from this stadium. The CSL graph completely excludes the MPLS contribution so it underpresents the public costs by over $300 million. It also assumes that player salaries will do nothing but increase at a steady average of 5% a year forever. All of these assumptions are weak or outright misleading. Furthermore the actual numbers have changed, the public expense has grown from $600 million to close to $800 million, so in order to make that work out you'd have to push your timeline out from 40 to 50 years even using CSLs artificially low public expense numbers.

The truth is that public doesn't begin making a profit of any kind until the everything is paid off in the 30 years. Of course by that time that Vikings will want yet another new publicly financed stadium because these stadiums are actually an essential part of the business plan. New government financed stadiums are the only way this industry can grow it's revenue in a big way. They cannot sell more tickets or grab more eyeballs, they have to raise prices and generate more revenue inside the stadiums. This is a bubble that will eventually pop, maybe it popped yesterday, time will tell.

Mr. Grow, please don't under-report the public expense of this project. You underestimate the MPLS contribution by excluding the the $165 million they're dedicating to operating costs over the next 30 years. The real MPLS contribution is not $150 million, it's over $300 million.

Player salary increases

"It also assumes that player salaries will do nothing but increase at a steady average of 5% a year forever."

NFL player salaries increased at a 10% annual rate from 2000-2008. If anything this assumption might be too low. The public could capture more of these salaries if the DFL regain control and pass Dayton's "tax the rich" income tax plan.

"The public doesn't begin making a profit of any kind until everything is paid off in 30 years"

If the plan is neutral in a 30 year timeline they should pass the bill.

Salary bubble

Player salaries have been increasing since 1962. Nothing continues to increase indefinitely at a predictable rate, that's "bubble" thinking, like real estate prices. 30 years from now players salaries may be higher than they are now, but they would have to double in order to outpace the public expense, the fact is that's unlikely to happen, all bubbles eventually burst and this one is unlikely to last another 30 years.

What would cause salaries to fall?

I don't see attention on football waning. There are several good expansion markets to expand future revenues (Los Angeles, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas). Media money keeps increasing and I would bet on the NFL continuing to get their share of media dollars. Even if the "professional sports" bubble pops the NFL is best positioned to weather the storm.

All bubbles pop

Dan,

All I can tell you is that all bubbles pop. No one thought the US auto industry could collapse, or that a nationwide real estate collapse was possible. No industry grows indefinitely. What could pop the sports bubble? Well the end off public subsidies might do it. If these guys had to finance their own stadiums it would suck billions of dollars out of their profit margins. Like any other industry or company owner they would probably try to recover the loss by demanding concessions from their labor force i.e. the players. The size of the payroll would then plateau or decrease instead of rise. A lot can happen in 30 years. Typically however the actual cause of a bubble collapse is not predicted, but it's always a question of when not if.

The NFL is best positioned of any professional sport

That 5% number they're assuming seems to hedge pretty well against the 10% yearly increases running into a wall. That's assuming a 4x increase instead of the 17x increase they've seen over the last 30 years. Remember, the NFL is a cartel and is able to artificially restrict supply.

If the Vikings can't meet those assumptions that would mean one or more of several things happened: people stopped being interested in football, Minnesota's population collapsed or the economy went into a depression. I don't see attention on football waning; the Super Bowl is practically a national holiday. If attention stays the same they'll continue to find advertisers willing to pay for those eyeballs. Minneapolis is a top 15 media market and I don't foresee an emigration of half the state's population in the next 30 years. Economic depressions happen but the NFL will be the sport least affected by an economic downturn. It is much easier to sell out 8 football games a year than it is to sell 41 basketball or hockey games.

If that gloomy future happens we're going to be dealing with an empty Xcel Energy Center and Target Center long before the Vikings are a problem.

salaries

just like your house has been going up in value... isn't it amazing that some people believe that everything doesn't always go up?

Being irked

Why is an outstate legislator pushing a building project in Minneapolis, which Minneapolis legislators don't want, and which will be paid for by Minneapolis dollars, not dollars coming from Rep. Lanning's district?

Clout

It case no one has noticed, Gov. Dayton has very little clout with DFLer's in the legislature. And to be fair, DFL legislators have very little clout with the governor. This is a story that goes largely unreported.

Maybe someone should tell Lanning he has his answer

After 7 years without a floor vote can we not safely say the answer is: "no". I think this near hysterical tone people imply when discussing the "threat" of the Vikings leaving is tempest in search of a teapot. I think the NFL is in for a shock, apparently Minnesotan's find it a lot easier to make themselves comfortable with the idea of life without the Vikings than billion dollar entitlement program for a Jersey billionaire. I think Minnesotan's have had 7 years to get used to the idea of life without the Vikings and when the threat if finally hauled out it will be greeted with a resounding "meh".

Time for a hitlist

Doug, can u give us a list of the names who voted no on this Vikings committee thing so that we can get a political hitlist going if the Vikes decide to move? I want the name of every one of these jerks who just may have caused Minnesota to lose it's most valuable sports franchise and with it, a valuable bargaining chip in trying to lure new large businesses to come to this state. If the Minnesota 9 are going to block this bill, then it's time that pressure be brought to bear on their political careers. I hope that the areas that elected these bums are really proud of themselves for essentially telling the Vikings that we aren't willing to pay the cost of being a major league area. To think that the people of Green Bay have it figured out and our "most honorable" chickenbleeps don't have the guts to vote for what's right instead of what's popular on TalkRadio really sticks in my craw. Green Bay is more metropolitan and modern than the Twin Cities...let that one sink in for awhile.

Thank you to the Representatives who voted No!

I am proud of my Representative Ryan Winkler (D-St. Louis Park+Golden Valley) for voting against this bill at this time. As he stated, he doesn't want to lose the Vikings. But at the same time, this Republican majority shut down the State rather than tax the rich, and now they want the DFLers to take on the responsibility of funding a sport stadium for a billionaire? We have more important priorities in this state, like education, transit and tax fairness (i.e, the rich need to pay their fair share.)

When the Republican majority is willing to adequately fund the essentials of government (transportation infrastructure and transit, education, health care, and environmental protection) with fair tax increases, then we will ask our DFL legislators to consider pledging tax revenues to support the private entertainment industry (and its fans like Mr. Crisler.) Until then I'll support my Representative's right to say no and vote accordingly. And I'll bet the voters agree.

Your hitlist

may just be my contribution list. And I think there are more of those that won't be overly concerned about a losing team filled with a bunch of overpaid and underdisciplined so-called professional football players than people ranting about chickenbleep politicians that don't vote to subsidize such a team.

The Vikings have had every opportunity to fund their own stadium, or at least provide a winning season to convince a greater number of people to fund a new stadium, and yet they haven't.

Also, there's a reason that certain people live in the Twin Cities and not Green Bay and vice versa. I highly doubt that the main reason for either is the identity of their respective football teams and/or where they play. In other words, the world doesn't revolve around football.

The commenters above have

The commenters above have listed all the reasons why the stadium is a bad economic deal.

The Wilfs overpaid for the team in 2005/6 in the expectation that a stadium would boost the team's value...bad business decision on their part. I would not be surprised if the largest part of their unwillingness to chip a larger chunk into the pot revolves around the fact that they simply can't afford to.

I also dispute the notion that the city of Minneapolis benefits in greater proportion to their contribution, therefore MPLS legislators should be in favor of the proposal. The studies show that pro sports are chasing disposable income that would be spent someplace else if they did not exist...this is the reason all economic benefits of the stadium are an illusion. Perhaps a small subset of downtown hotel and bar owners benefit greatly, while the vast majority of the city gets the bill (wait, why are the Repubs opposed to this, it fits their ideology perfectly!)

I also wish that the reported state and local contributions took into account the cost of bond repayment, as opposed to initial contribution. Then we might be able to have a discussion about bond rates for gambling-backed revenues and it could become clear that it is yet another way the state and city are getting the worst end of the deal.

I'm tired of this.

Been there-Done that!

Oh Please! All of the commentating and hand-wringing is playing right into the hands of the proponents of this monstrous misuse of tax dollars. It's only serving to heighten the drama and allow everyone to feign a sigh of relief as the handsome prince gallops in to sweep up the lovely princess and carry her off into the sunset (or a 25 year lease). How many times do you have to watch this movie before you know the ending! Watch and tell me I got it wrong?!

Go with Art Rolnicks plan

Use the proposed stadium investment money to fund early childhood development. That has a 10-16% annualized rate of return. Where are our priorities and what is the rate of return on a Vikings Stadium?

Take out the politics, think about people

I'd like to be able to watch the Vikings on Sunday's with my son and daughter for years to come. The same way I did with my dad. Forget about the politics, think of the human factor. The state will be fine, this won't put us "under." Stop talking in the language of politics and think of it on a human level. The people you hear from are political minded people who are against this deal. They don't speak for everybody, they are just more likely to speak. It's not about the billionaire owner and millionaire players, its about family and friends who come together because of the team. That is priceless.

I have a big TV

I have a big TV with a better view of any of the football stadiums in the country than if I actually showed up to a game with a ticket in my hand. Here's the deal, for the price of a ticket, I can get a whole lot of other entertainment. For the price of a stadium, we can get a whole lot of kids educated and teachers paid for doing it. The human element is this: there are needs and there are wants. We may want to have a football team here, but we NEED to pay for other things. Even if you remove the politics, the money is real, and an essential part of the human experience in the modern world. So, yes, it is about a billionaire owner and millionaire players because they can afford to build their own non-essential stadium. It's not like they have no place to play.

Balance, not PR, would be helpful

If the Vikings make their rather transparent threat to move to L.A. official, will MinnPost do a proper analysis that shows such a possible move to be pure myth? After all, is it pure accident that L.A. has remained bereft of an NFL franchise for the past 17 years while the value of NFL teams has grown exponentially? The L.A. market is deliberately kept empty so that other teams can threaten to move there, just like Washington D.C. was held hostage by Major League Baseball for 34 years. When new stadiums have been built in Jacksonville, St. Louis, Oakland, Buffalo,and San Diego, then we can start worrying. Even then, the Vikings aren't going anywhere because no privately-funded stadium plan will work in L.A. without ownership of an NFL team, and no NFL team is going to be made available at a fire sale price to L.A.

Of course, that won't stop the NFL from raising the threat level, maybe paying another visit or two to the Twin Cities during the next six months to let us know that "hey, were at DEF CON 2--you better ante up or the team is gone." Naturally, the media will report that not only is the sky falling, our whole way of life as we know it will come to an end, which presumably will lead to the legislature caving in and solving the great problem of the day: how to keep an important state asset that the business community is unwilling to put up one dime to save--except by renting luxury suites and purchasing choice tickets that it can write off, adding yet another entertainment cost that the public will subsidize.

The NFL will not abandon football's fifth largest TV market, and the Vikings have the resources to build their own stadium--just not the 1.5 million square foot airport hangar that they're trying to foist on the public. And if you're wondering why Green Bay "got it done," it's because the Packers are truly seen as the community asset that they are--there's no Zygi Wilf standing to add another $200 million to his franchise's value on the public's dime. Of course, until the legislature defers to the twenty Minnesota Fortune 500 companies and their $439 billion in annual revenues to resolve this issue, we will continue to be harangued daily about the impending doom before us.

Human factor?

Byron,

Everything has a "human factor", we still need to make responsible public policy. When did professional football become a government entitlement program? Where's my Netflix entitlement, my fishing entitlement, my bowling entitlement? These are all things I share with MY father and would like to do so for years to come.

This would be the largest public subsidy for a private company in the history of the state, twice as large as any other subsidy. I get it, you like football, but this is just too much public money, especially at a time when we're cutting health care and services for people in need. No one will die or even be seriously inconvenienced if the Vikings don't get a new publicly financed stadium, or even if they leave. People's lives depend on education, health care, and employment, that's where our resources need to be going. The Vikings are not a charity and the NFL has more than enough money to build these stadiums, if they set aside $200 million a year out of their $9 billion in profits they'd be able to build a new billion dollar stadium anywhere they want every five years.

And I know I'm in minority on this, but I think our preoccupation with sports and athletes has become detrimental to our culture and community. We're arguing about whether or not we afford to pay our seniors the benefits they earned while we lavish millions of dollars on people play a game for a living. We can't think our way out of a paper bag but everyone knows the name of every player and every rank and statistic in sports. I think a very strong case can be made that on a human scale, we reached the point where there are real benefits to losing the Vikings. But that's just me.

Well put Paul

And I seriously doubt you are in the minority re: sentiment of the cultural impact of our preoccupation with sports and athletes; I think you are simply a minority in willingness to voice it.

Why not Racino?

All this arguing over public money and taxes could be laid to rest if the Vikings stadium was financed with Racino money. It's money that would be there for the using and could also fund a lot of other needs without taxation. In fact, at no cost to the state. It's agreed that it isn't an expansion of gambling- gambling already exists at the two tracks. There is no cost to the state. The regulating agency, the Minnesota Racing Commission already is funded by the tracks as part of the licensing agreement. The games at the tracks would actually be regulated. Approving Racino could not only keep the Vikings in town, it would save a Billion dollar industry and the jobs that are dependent on it. Hello! Is anybody there?