Rybak hails ‘progress’ on Vikes stadium

On that “soon”/imminent” deal that will commit Minneapolis (maybe) to a spot for a new Vikings stadium next to the Metrodome … and turn around perception that the stadium idea has lost its mojo, Tim Nelson at MPR is saying today: “[M]ayor R.T. Rybak says gaps in the deal are closing. ‘There’s been tremendous progress over this last couple of weeks. We’ve gone from the Vikings playing at TCF from three years to maybe two years and maybe no time. We’ve refined the plan. I think we’ve come a great step of the way toward having the negotiators for the state and the Vikings and council president Johnson and I all on the same page toward making a deal. So we’re making a lot of progress.’ Rybak has not secured support for the deal from a majority of the city council members yet. A new stadium would also need legislative approval.” Heck, he might as well start the excessive end-zone celebration dance.

At The Brandeis Hoot, the student paper of Brandeis University in Massachusetts, Gordy Stillman offers thoughts from afar on the benefits of “compromise”: “The Minnesota Vikings are ‘franchise free agents,’ they have no lease and, until last Wednesday, were free to relocate to anywhere provided the NFL approve of the relocation. Since Wednesday was the deadline for the Vikings to inform Commissioner Roger Goodell of intentions to move, it’s safe to say that they are not relocating to Los Angeles or anywhere else for the 2012 season. They have been working for most of the last 10 years trying to convince the state legislature that the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome has become too old and out-dated to be a viable stadium. … While I can sympathize with the fact that money is not made out of thin air and the fact that the state has been involved in two stadiums during the last six years, the fact remains that the state has handled the whole situation horribly. After nearly a year of work promoting and developing a site and a proposal to fund construction, most of this while the legislative session had adjourned for the year, the legislature has all but crushed that plan while Governor Dayton has endorsed what the Vikings have made clear is the “least preferable” option. … Compromise can work in two ways. The first and more common way is when both sides trade concessions and walk away with something that they don’t like but is between the two original proposals. The less common situation is when the two feuding sides come together and hammer out a new unified plan. Whether politicians realize it or not, having professional sports teams bring in a lot of money through taxes and raise the profile of a city relative to other regional population centers. To lose an NFL team will hurt the local economy as well as government tax revenue whereas construction of a new stadium would provide jobs in both the building and the management of a new stadium.” I didn’t say these were fresh insights.

I suppose “Sorry. We meant to …”  doesn’t quite cut it. David Chanen of the Strib writes: “First-time or low-level offenders in Minnesota often can catch a break by having criminal charges dismissed or reduced if they meet certain conditions. But in thousands of cases, the state’s public court data system failed to register that change, an omission that could torpedo a person’s chances of landing a job or housing, and a problem officials have spent months trying to resolve. These critical omissions involve ‘interim disposition’ cases, in which a person usually has a year to meet probation terms, resulting in the dismissal or reduction of a felony or gross misdemeanor to a lesser charge. That, in turn, may persuade an employer, landlord or banker to give consideration to someone with a ‘softer’ criminal history.”

Lee’s Liquor Lounge is for sale?! The Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider says: “Longtime owner Louie Sirian quietly took out the ad, but admitted Thursday he isn’t sold on the idea of selling Lee’s: ‘If someone made me an offer that I felt was worth it, I would take it, but I suspect I’ll probably still be here this time next year.’ Sirian is embroiled in a dispute with the Minneapolis Fire Department over apartments above his bar that were deemed not up to code last week. Between that and another lengthy conflict with the city over rights to a parking lot across the street, he said, ‘I am getting a little tired of all the trouble.’ Ten male residents who lived above the bar (some of whom also worked there) were ‘kicked out with only a day’s notice in the dead of winter,’ according to Sirian. Fire officials were not available for comment. The inspections were reportedly part of the fallout following a fire above McMahon’s Irish Pub in south Minneapolis that killed six residents in 2010.” If you sell, Louie, please not to another franchise “traditional Irish pub.”

Frederick Melo of the PiPress has a story about changes likely coming to 35-E North of downtown St. Paul. “Express lanes aren’t the only possible change on the horizon for Interstate 35E. By 2015, the Minnesota Department of Transportation hopes to complete an estimated $260 million in improvements on the interstate. New bridges would carry drivers over, under or across many of the streets that cross the east-metro interstate, as well as the BNSF rail line. MnDOT also hopes to replace the Pennsylvania Avenue interchange with a new interchange at Cayuga Street. Under the proposed MnPASS project, drivers who choose to pay a toll — typically from $1 to $4 — would be able to enter a new express lane on I-35E in downtown St. Paul and whiz past heavy traffic to Little Canada, or take the same route southbound. … No one expects the toll lanes to be a huge moneymaker. ‘This system is not about maximizing revenue,’ MnPASS policy manager Brad Larsen said. ‘It’s designed to maximize traffic flow.’ Work could begin in 2014 or 2015. If the project is successful, a future MnPASS lane could extend to County Road 96 in White Bear Lake.”

My apologies for not linking to this big Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story a couple days ago. Say Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson:A state-subsidized investment program yielded huge returns for three out-of-state financial firms and their partners while netting just 202 new jobs for Wisconsin, at a cost of more than $247,000 per job, a Journal Sentinel analysis has found. The investment firms, called CAPCOs, were far more successful at making money for their owners and partners than they were at launching start-ups and creating jobs. They paid millions to cover their owners’ taxes on profits. They didn’t share any of those investment profits with the state. And they didn’t have to, because the program was poorly drafted and had minimal state oversight, the Journal Sentinel found. Despite the program’s poor performance, state elected officials have been lobbied to revive CAPCO investing on a much larger scale. The firms spent $250,000 last year lobbying in Madison — and a group of Assembly Republicans, with support from Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon), has been reluctant to leave them out of a proposed state program to fund new companies.” The whole episode is textbook “crony capitalism.”

The paper’s editorial page — which endorsed Scott Walker in his 2010 run for governor — is no kinder in writing: “A decision last week by Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to use $25.6 million of Wisconsin’s share of another legal settlement — this time with the big banks over foreclosure fraud — to plug another budget hole has a familiar ring to it. The state will receive about $141 million in money pried loose from the banks to help cities and people who fell victim to fraud and sketchy underwriting. Of that $141 million, the state gets control of $31.6 million. And of that $31.6 million, Walker and Van Hollen are proposing to use most of it as a one-time budget fix. ‘Just like communities and individuals have been affected, the foreclosure crisis has had an effect on the state of Wisconsin, in terms of unemployment,’ Walker said. ‘This will offset that damage done to the state of Wisconsin’. This from a governor who had bragged about balancing budgets without gimmicks. That’s all this is: another gimmick and not even a new one. The $141 million coming to Wisconsin breaks down this way: up to $60 million for loan modifications and other relief for homeowners; $17.2 million in direct payments to eligible borrowers; $31.3 million in refinancing benefits for eligible borrowers; and that $31.6 million that went directly to the state. All of it should be used directly for foreclosure remediation. That’s what it was intended for. That’s what it should be used for.”

Not sure about the job-creating impact here, but the AP is saying: “The [Wisconsin] state Assembly has passed two bills that would scale back sections of Wisconsin’s air pollution regulations. One bill would prohibit the state Department of Natural Resources from requiring permits for indirect sources of pollution such as parking lots and highways that attract motor vehicles. The other bill would stop the DNR from creating stricter standards on hazardous air pollution from manure than federal regulators.”

There’s going to be more walleye rationing than usual up on Mille Lacs. Conrad Wilson of MPR reports: “The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources may need to slow the number of walleye coming out of Lake Mille Lacs this summer. Data and projection models from the DNR show that if the current rate continues, the state’s walleye limit could be reached too early in the season. On Thursday evening, DNR representatives met with Garrison business owners concerned that possible limits on the walleye catch on the lake could impact the local tourism industry. Under the current rules, anglers can have a total of four walleye in their possession. In addition to the number of walleye anglers can keep, the DNR sets what are called protected slot limits: Walleye caught between 18 and 28 inches have to be released back into the lake.”

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 02/17/2012 - 03:47 pm.

    Really?

    You quote at length the Braideis item that includes saying “…having professional sports teams bring in a lot of money through taxes and raise the profile of a city relative to other regional population centers.”

    Could we see some facts to back that first assertion? Yes, players and others in the NFL biz pay some taxes, but how much locally? If people don’t spend money at NFL games, do they not spend? Or do they choose other leisure spending activities? I am dubious of the claims that football creates more net turnover than other amusement activities.

    As to the second assertion. Pure touchy-feely stuff that is unquantifiable, and also dubious. Do peole really think L.A. is less of a major city because they don’t have a team? Does Tampa Bay seem more cosmopolitan and important because of the Bucks? Really? I mean, Omaha might seem slightly more liveable if they had an NFL team (or NBA or MLB). But it’d still be Omaha. I don’t see fortune 500 companies deciding on Omaha or not over major league sports.

    I’m just guessing on all this. But it has always struck me as a zero-sum game that owners play on citizens to extract more benefit for themselves.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/17/2012 - 04:14 pm.

    Vikings stadium

    What’s with this extensive quote of long since debunked statdium talking points from a student newspaper in Massachusetts? “Whether politicians realize it or not, having professional sports teams bring in a lot of money through taxes and raise the profile of a city relative to other regional population centers. To lose an NFL team will hurt the local economy as well as government tax revenue whereas construction of a new stadium would provide jobs in both the building and the management of a new stadium.”

    Whether some kid in Massachusetts recognizes it or not the proposal here is to spend $40 million a year in order to collect $16 million worth of income taxes. This would be the largest subsidy of a private business ever in the history of MN and will not create a single new permanent job or create any additional economic expansion. The idea that an NFL team with its 16 games a year, only 8 of which would be played in the new stadium, represents some kind of indispensable cultural asset is nearly magical thinking, since magic is the only way one could explain such a disproportionate affect from such a small organization and so few events. We’ve been over all this a million times, not only are Stillman’s observations stale, they are ill informed and misleading.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/17/2012 - 09:28 pm.

    Stadium jobs

    Professional sports in Minnesota provide about 500 full-time-equivalent jobs, not many for an entire industry.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2012 - 10:24 am.

      500 FTE’s?

      Hey Bernice,

      Just wondering where you got that 500 figure? I know the Dome employs a grand total of 19 people full time year-round.

      • Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/19/2012 - 05:14 pm.

        I can’t find it again, Paul (sorry)

        But I did find again a comparison of the benefits of the arts and cultural offerings as compared to pro sports described by Minnesota Citizens for the Arts in a 2006 report at:

        (www.mncitizensforthearts.org/learn/artsresearch/arts-athletics-facts/?phpMyAdmin=rcNJ4aTZ18ZeXmtg….. )

        Total 2005 pro sports attendance in Minnesota: 4,610,201; arts and culture: 14,487,592

        Nationally, artists number 1,880,000. I read somewhere else that the Minnesota number is 40,000+.
        Both the arts/cultural events and sports benefit local economies, but it would seem that pro sports run a poor second.

  4. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 02/18/2012 - 12:12 am.

    Vikings stadium

    It appears that all of the local news media are giving us “information” about the value of a Vikings stadium. Since the article above cities a student newspaper in Massachusetts, I feel comfortable quoting from Dave Zirin, an author of five books regarding sports.

    Zirin in his book, “Bad Sports, How Owners are Ruining the Games We Love,” states that owners know that their teams aren’t any type of public good and only serve the richest segment of society. In his segment regarding the Twins stadium, Zirin said that Carl Pohlad never could get a majority of the population to support the stadium issue. Zirin went on to say,

    “Eventually he (Pohlad) came around to the puckish wisdom of former mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani once said that the problem with stadium referendums is that people won’t vote for them. Pohlad took the gospel to heart. His people worked at it behind the scenes, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians in both parties, eventually making a mockery of the Farm and Labor label on the Democrats and the Independence label on the Republicans. Governor and presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty, who has vetoed every effort to raise taxes to refurbish the state’s infrastructure, became a born-again stadium supporter. Others also got religion and began to worship at the altar of ‘revenue streams,’ ‘naming rights,’ and ‘luxury boxes.'”

    Mayor Rybak and others are taking us down the same path again. It appears bipartisanship works well when both parties are fleecing the public.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2012 - 10:36 am.

    NFL subsidies

    I think it would actually surprise people to know that this stadium subsidy would actually be the largest public subsidy of any private business in the states history, and it’s going to a company that promises no economic expansion, and not one new new permanent job. This would be a $7-$800 million dollar subsidy, actually closer to $1.2 billion by the time it’s paid off.

    Typically large public subsidies for companies are justified with compelling economic arguments. The largest public subsidy in MN history thus far was the Northwest Airlines subsidy back in the mid 1990s. The NWA subsidy amounted to around $600 million, $330 million from the state, and $250 million from the Metropolitan Airport Commission. In 1992, NWA employed around 11,000 people in the state of MN, was promising to create another 1,000 permanent jobs, and was teetering on brink of bankruptcy, which would have put thousands of Minnesotans out of work. With NWA you had several compelling reasons for public subsidies. NWA was (and Delta remains) the largest tenant at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and its failure would have damaged a regional asset. Northwest’s employees with an average salary of $40,000 a year bought a lot of cars, groceries, houses, etc. You get a huge multiplier effect to the economy with that many people. And NWA was promising to create $1,000 new jobs (in addition to temporary construction jobs) . Things didn’t quite work out the way it was planned but NWA did eventually create another 600 or so jobs.

    What about the Vikings? The Vikings directly employ fewer than 130 people, only a handful of which work year round, and 53 of whom are athletes. Beyond temporary construction jobs the Vikings promise no new jobs or economic expansion whatsoever, nor can we expect any indirect economic growth or expansion. What about the Dome you say? The dome employs 19 full time workers, there’s no reason to assume more people will work at the new stadium. You get almost no multiplier effect at all with an NFL franchise because you have so few employees, and so much of the revenue is not recirculated locally.

    I’ve recently written a blog that discusses this in more detail and compares the stadium subsidy to some other companies and subsidies: http://pudstrand.fatcow.com/blog/?p=281

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/19/2012 - 10:24 am.

    Stadium Shmadium

    Art Rolnick, former fed economist wrote a nice piece about stadium subsidies in the Strib. If there was a weekend Glean I bet it would be in there.

    http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/139552243.html

    By the way, I notice this is not automatically becoming a link as advertised.

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