Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


DFL Sen. Marty: Taxpayer subsidy for stadium is $77 a ticket

Another perspective-heightening story on the Vikings stadium funding scheme from DFL Sen. John Marty and … Forbes magazine. Mike Ozanian writes: “If the bill for the Minnesota Vikings new stadium passes the cost to taxpayers will be $77.30 per ticket, per game, for 30 years, according to an analysis by state senator John Marty, who submitted his findings to his colleagues [Friday]. … If the taxpayers of Minnesota think $77.30 is too much, Marty has even worse news: the real cost is much greater because his calculation does not include the value of the property tax exemption on the stadium and the parking ramps, nor the value of the sales tax exemption on construction materials.

You knew the first-person stories about the collection agency-in-the-emergency room experience were going to be good. The Strib’s Maura Lerner delivers some goods: “Deb Waldin showed up at Fairview Southdale’s emergency room just after 8 one night last July with the worst pain she’d ever felt— a kidney stone. While she waited to see a doctor, a man rolled a computer into her emergency-room bay and asked her to pay $750 or $800. ‘I’m like, are you kidding me? Here I am dying and I’m just going to reach over to my purse and give you my credit card’? She kicked him out but is still furious about it to this day. … Waldin, who lives in Edina, said she was still writhing in pain when an unnamed staffer pulled up to her bedside last July 11 … She had no previous debts at the hospital, she said; but the man told her this visit would cost her $750 to $800 and asked for her credit card. ‘I was pretty vulnerable, being in the kind of pain I was in, but I still wasn’t handing over 800 bucks,’ she said in an interview last week. ‘I just said, ‘Go away.’ He did, and Waldin had no complaints about the medical care that followed. ‘That was fabulous,’ she said. But afterward, she called to complain about the finance man. ‘I don’t even recall getting an apology.’ ” Apologies are $900.

At Bloomberg, Dan Hart and Alex Wagner cover Accretive (the debt-collecting service’s) Sunday statement: “Accretive Health Inc. … said it’s working with advisers to address concerns raised by the Minnesota attorney general’s office that it puts bedside pressure on patients to pay bills. The claims ‘grossly distort and mischaracterize’ its revenue cycle services, the company said today in a statement. The suggestion Accretive puts bedside pressure on patients to pay their bills out of pocket are a ‘flagrant distortion of fact,’ the company said.” They don’t really refer to squeezing patients undergoing treatment as “revenue cycle services,” do they?

The Forum papers group out of North Dakota famously endorsed Congressman Chip Cravaack over Jim Oberstar in 2010. They still have his back. In an editorial — reprinted in the Strib — they say: “No matter what anyone may have predicted, Cravaack has been spending far more than a day a week back home in Minnesota, working with constituents and staying in touch with their needs and challenges. In 2011, he spent 164 days in Minnesota’s 8th District, or more than three days a week, according to the pages of the congressman’s official calendar and schedule, access to which was granted exclusively to the News Tribune Opinion page. Cravaack spent another 139 ‘voting days’ in Washington, D.C., and 19 other days working at various spots around the world. He spent only 11 days in 2011 in New Hampshire, including Dec. 23 and Christmas Eve. His family regularly spends time with him in Minnesota, too, he said in an interview. ‘That’s the job, to reach out to people in the 8th District,’ Cravaack said. ‘But it’s good. We’re making it work. My wife is making it work for us.’ ” Good PR work is so hard to come by.

Also in Sunday’s Strib, editor Nancy Barnes explains/praises her employees coverage of the Amy Senser trial, saying in part: “Our job has been to sort through the theatrics, share the charges and facts, and help readers come to their own opinions about what really happened here, just as jurors must do at the end of this trial. At the heart of this case is not whether Amy Senser was driving the car, how much she drinks, or whether she’s a responsible mother or wife. It’s not about wealth or class, although that is obviously part of the story line. The key question is simply this: Did she know she had hit someone that night? As the trial began, we had two reporters in place, one photographer, one videographer and a sketch artist; their challenge has been to report on the story around the clock and across multiple platforms, as is the nature of modern-day journalism.” After devoting the better part of four months and God knows how many forest acres of newsprint speculating on the NFL draft, you can’t say the Strib’s Senser trial coverage is over the top, but Barnes might have explained why this case warranted that much staff power?

The GleanThe stadium negotiations as we start work on what was once thought to be the last day of the session is this, courtesy of Don Davis of the Forum papers: “GOP leaders want to adjourn for the year on Monday, but [DFL Sen. Tom] Bakk said there is no reason the Legislature cannot continue after that. The state Constitution allows the Legislature to meet seven more days before May 21. Dayton said Republicans who control the Legislature should schedule a vote and let the public know in advance. Bakk said the decision is up to Zellers because, technically at least, the bill needs to pass the House before it heads to the Senate. [GOP Rep. Morrie] Lanning and [GOP Sen. Julie] Rosen have said it will be difficult, if not impossible, to finish the stadium issue by Monday. The two chambers likely will pass differing bills, so negotiators would need to work out the differences after the House and Senate pass their own measures.”

The little-known Vikings player who allegedly laid into another party-goer in Oak Grove Friday night was insulted because the kid said … he looked like Eddie Murphy? Paul Levy’s Strib story says: “[Andrew] Hayek and [Caleb] King “were pretty chummy until they left” the party, [Hayek’s sister, Jenny] Eagle said she was told. When Hayek told King around 3:15 a.m. Saturday that he resembled Eddie Murphy, the mood changed dramatically, Eagle said she was told. According to an Anoka County sheriff’s report, Hayek went outside to wait in a vehicle for a ride home. King allegedly confronted Hayek outside the car and struck him in the face.” I know Murphy’s made a lot of lousy movies lately, but a beating … ?

Who knew there was muck at the bottom of the St. Croix? Mary Divine at the PiPress writes: “The price tag for the new St. Croix River bridge could run as high as $676 million — a figure almost three times as much as the $234 million spent replacing the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Why so much? The main reason, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation employee in charge of both projects, is muck. Foundation work for the new St. Croix bridge accounts for 40 percent of the total cost estimate, said Jon Chiglo, project manager for the St. Croix River Crossing. … Crews working on the St. Croix bridge are expected to have to drill down 160 feet; the longest shaft drilled for the I-35W bridge was 90 feet, Chiglo said. ‘In some instances, we have 85 feet of muck in the St. Croix that we have to drill through before we reach the softer sandstone,’ said Chiglo.”

And yeah, a bear … in Frogtown. Andy Greder of the PiPress writes: “St. Paul police shot and killed a black bear Sunday … in the Frogtown neighborhood, a police spokesman said. Residents called police to the 500 block of West Charles Avenue at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Officers followed the bear three blocks north to West Lafond Avenue, where the bear climbed a tree. Officers set up a perimeter and waited until the bear to descend. At 1:30 a.m., the bear left the tree and was killed. Sgt. Paul Paulos said officers coordinated with the Department of Natural Resources on the option of tranquilizing the bear. The DNR advised to kill the bear because of unknowns in the proper dose needed to tranquilize the bear and repercussions if not properly subdued.”

Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/30/2012 - 07:52 am.

    Re: collection agency-in-the-emergency room experience

    Funny who never hear about illegal aliens being asked to pay anything in the ER. In fact, it’s *because* they don’t pay anything that hospitals are desperate to get paid from somebody, anybody.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/30/2012 - 08:58 am.

    Illegal aliens?

    Illegal aliens have nothing do with the Fairview story. On the contrary, all of the stories thus far presented involved citizens who actually had health insurance but were pressured to pay their deductible in advance.

  3. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 04/30/2012 - 09:14 am.

    $77 per ticket Subsidy

    Sen. Marty’s letter (accessible via the Forbes link) will hopefully be read by every legislator. I don’t agree with all the points he makes (for example, I don’t believe moving the team is an “empty or baseless fact”) and he doesn’t give enough credit to the non-football uses of a stadium (though there really aren’t many that could not be handled in other local venues). But it gets past the emotion and asks why.

    Essentially his argument boils down to:
    1. Why are subsidizing a private business (“public money should be used for public purposes”) and
    2. If we are going to subsidize, why such a bad deal for the state.

    • Submitted by Jeff Klein on 04/30/2012 - 10:05 am.

      I agree that in an ideal world we should never spend public money for private business. However, we should be aware it happens all the time – in fact, any time the government contracts out anything, which is how most things get done. You could argue we’re just “contracting out” our football. A lot of public money gets passed to the private sector with little or no public outcry.

      I’m not saying this is a good thing. But I am saying that some perspective would be nice, and it would be nice if this much hell was raised every time it happened. I would also say, given that reality, I would be in favor of publicly “helping” a stadium happen, perhaps by means of infrastructure improvements or a small contribution to the construction costs. It’s the fact that they want more than half the total that should have us looking for a better bargain.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/30/2012 - 01:01 pm.

        Yes but no

        Yes, we subsidize stuff with tax money, but not like this. The MN Vikings employ fewer than 150 people total, only handful of which work full time year-round. This would be the largest public subsidy of any private company ever in the history of MN. The Vikings contribute a whopping $12 million to our $240 BILLION state economy, and they promise to create not a single new permanent job. In fact, a pro-sports franchise is a unique business entity that is literally prohibited from physically growing in any meaningful way, they cannot hire more athletes, and they don’t need more staff to mange the athletes they have.

        By contrast when Northwest Airlines requested a $600 subsidy back in the 90s, they employed around 10,000 people, and promised to create an additional 1,200 permanent full time jobs. The Mall of American got $300 million and they created 12,000 new permanent jobs.

        We come out $35 million dollars ahead if we let the Vikings go and just subsidize the dome for $5 million a year. People need to realize, there are actually benefits to losing the Vikings if it comes to that.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/30/2012 - 01:18 pm.


      1. Why are subsidizing a private business (“public money should be used for public purposes”) and

      Because the public receives a benefit as well, in this case, the continued presence of the Vikings in the state.

      2. If we are going to subsidize, why such a bad deal for the state.

      Because we have put off a decision too long, weakening the public’s bargaining position, and strengthening the Vikings’ bargaining position.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/30/2012 - 01:44 pm.

        Weak position?

        Actually the Vikings have blown it and we are in the strongest possible bargaining position. The Vikings have no lease at the dome, and hence nowhere to play football. How much value does an NFL team with nowhere to play have? Exactly Zero, no stadium, no value. They got nowhere to go, no stadium is sitting anywhere waiting for them today, and they can’t build one in the next two months.

        The problem isn’t our negotiation position, the problem is our negotiators and the fact that our democracy has been hijacked by an Jersey billionaire. Any competent negotiator representing the people of MN would be asking the Vikings right now where they intend to play football while they build new stadium somewhere else? Any competent negotiator would be telling the Vikings that MN is not interested in acting like a placeholder while they build a stadium somewhere else and that means they’re not going to get a year to year deal at the dome. Any competent negotiator would have gotten another ten year lease from the Vikings weeks ago. Any such lease would have two escape clauses: 1) the Vikings could pay $500 million to get out of the lease 2) They could get out of the lease if they build a new stadium with 95% private financing within the next ten years.

        Tell me we have no leverage. Bushwa!

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/30/2012 - 01:54 pm.

        Public benefit

        Yes, the public receives some benefit from the Vikings, but we also receive a benefit if they leave. For one thing, we save around $35 million a year in stadium payments and obligations. We get $45+ million plus worth of ticket sales that are currently sucked out of the state and given to 56 millionaires. That money would instead be spent elsewhere and it would be welcomed I’m sure. We would make a dent in our mono-cultural dependance on pro-sports and create room for a more diverse array of entertainment and activities. We could do without this constant parade of arrested Vikings behaving badly while getting paid millions of dollars a year.

        At any rate, how much is this Vikings “benefit” worth? We actually know this- we know it’s worth $10 million or less. So why are we putting a billion dollars on the table?

      • Submitted by Joseph Skar on 04/30/2012 - 02:18 pm.

        Great questions

        See Solyndra, at least in this case we would get a building.

    • Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 05/04/2012 - 02:48 pm.

      Better od the math

      You had better do the math so you understand how outrageous his statement is.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/30/2012 - 09:19 am.

    Funny How Some Us…

    Lacking the ability to even come close to a glimmer of being able to imagine what it would be like to be someone else,…

    fail to realize that undocumented immigrants are highly unlikely to complain about mistreatment of any kind, since doing so would likely expose their immigration status and get them deported.

    But then, again, for some of us, it is necessary to rigidly maintain an inaccurate and dishonest narrative in order to avoid considering the factual reality that it is we, ourselves, who have so damaged all the systems that used to work for the entire population of the state,…

    that SOME of our hospital systems are close enough to bankruptcy that they’re willing to look the other way while their bill collectors pursue unconscionable, unethical, and immoral ways of seeking payment from their patients.

    Of course, as has become clear in the case of Michael Brodkorb, such people are not a bit reluctant to scream bloody murder and (despite their own demands for “tort reform”) file suit if they ever become the victims of unethical and immoral practices that seem just fine to them when anyone else is victimized by them.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/30/2012 - 11:23 am.


      I appreciate the stand against racism Greg but these collection strategies are not being deployed to ward of bankruptcy. Very few hospitals in the US are facing bankruptcy, until recently healthy was the only sector of our economy that enjoyed double digit revenue increases despite the recession.

  5. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 04/30/2012 - 10:06 am.

    How ironic is it

    that Nancy Barnes would tout the Strib’s coverage less than 24 hours after Matt McKinney uploaded an article in which he quoted four legal experts talking about how hard it will be for the prosecution to prove that Amy Senser drove off with criminal intent (oddly, Dave Hanners at the PiPress had no trouble finding a legal expert with a different opinion). More galling, McKinney led off with former Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, the woman who railroaded Koua Fong Lee into prison for driving a defective Toyota (my favorite part of the aftermath was discovering that the county’s expert witnesses were from their own fleet services division which has no Toyotas in it).

    Enough of the right’s tiresome complaint about the Strib being a lefty newspaper. The Strib is an establishment newspaper, and the Sensers are part of that establishment.

    Abby Simons did a decent job of covering this trial, but every day the Strib editors would pare down her initial reporting, always taking from the prosecution while leaving the defense’s side in. Their coverage has been uniquely biased, and they have stayed as far away as possible from any examination of the faulty MN DUI laws that encourage drunk drivers to take off and then deny everything.

    If nothing else comes out of this trial, surely the media should be able to agree that MN’s DUI law is broken, and that it needs to be fixed so that everyone knows that the worst thing you can do is to leave the scene of an accident, and that you will go to prison for doing so no matter how clever your lawyer.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/30/2012 - 10:14 am.

    Funny, I don’t see this story in the Strib?

    You have to go all the way to Forbes Magazine to read a story about a MN legislator and billion dollar entitlement program that currently the biggest deal in MN? Strange that.

  7. Submitted by Lance Groth on 04/30/2012 - 11:23 am.


    The heavy-handedness of Accretive’s “revenue cycle services” reminds me of the scene in Goodfellas when Jimmy Conway was pressuring wig-seller Morrie Kessler to pay up: “where’s my money?” “I want my money” “give me my money”

    Well, that’s what happens when you have profit-motive health care combined with obscenely high costs of care – mafioso style “revenue cycle services.”

    Personally, I would have used stronger language than “go away”.

    BTW, Dennis, it has nothing to do with undocumented aliens and you know it. However this does serve to illustrate what happens with a private sector, for-profit health care system; those who can’t afford to pay still get care – more expensive, remedial rather than preventive care – subsidized by the rest of us. Better to have everyone kick into the kitty up front, so no one gets a visit from Jimmy Conway in the ER.

  8. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 04/30/2012 - 12:32 pm.

    I’m fine with Sen. Marty minimizing “the non-football uses of a stadium”, which the Gov. likes to emphasize with his branding it “a people’s stadium,” and others have likened to a town square. The fact is, the metrodome works just fine for truck rallies, high school football, running laps in the winter, etc. The only people who claim it’s antiquated are the Vikings- and even there it’s not an issue about an unsafe field, not enough seats, etc, it’s just that they want more luxury areas where they can make even more ridiculous sums of money. So yes, it’s entirely appropriate for Sen. Marty to ignore that argument– because it’s really not a serious part of the equation.

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 04/30/2012 - 02:57 pm.

      Not just Metrodome

      I’m sure they could play Major League Soccer in TCF Stadium if they really wanted to. There is less additional economic utility for a new football stadium when your municipality already has two football stadiums.

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/30/2012 - 02:07 pm.

    Nancy Barnes congratulates herself on the over-the-top newspaper resources she has been devoting to the Senser trial, which is really just a suburban soap opera, a melodrama for folks with too much time on their hands and no real civic interest.

    The contrast, for the Star Tribune’s coverage, should not be the sports pages, which covered the football draft ad nauseum. That’s a different section of the paper. The contrast of huge resources for Senser should be with the poor resources, and reporting limitations, Barnes placed on the Vikings stadium conflict. Those were in the news section, front and center. The public in a democracy must have solid news, full details in the reporting, so they can take action, influence decisions before they’re written in stone.

    The Star Tribune has not given the public the information it needs to decide whether the current stadium “deal” is good for either the state or the city of Minneapolis, which will be spending upwards of $675 million on this baby, out to 2046 (Marti’s $77.31 per ticket subsidy, counting city and state subsidies).

    We can’t do anything to affect the death caused by Amy Senser’s driving. But, if our local paper were better run, the larger public might be able to see that the public gets nothing tangible back from all that money to be spent on an unnecessary new stadium.

  10. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 05/04/2012 - 01:16 pm.

    Vikings Stadium

    I have done considerable research and the one thing I can’t figure out is why the Vikings Stadium is the only stadium I could find that doesn’t project any revenue? All I hear is how much it is going to cost. Why is it that our closest NFL Neighbor seems to think that the city of Green bay realizes revenue of close to 300 million per year from Lambeau Field and that is the only single use stadium in the NFL? Aren’t any businesses in MN going to make any money, or jobs created? If that is case we should have tore down the dome and kicked the Vikings out years ago.

  11. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 05/04/2012 - 01:20 pm.

    Marti’s figures

    I kind of disbelieve Marti’s figures, when you put that to a calculator that figures out to a total of 1 trillion, 593 billion, 9 hundred thousand dollars.

    • Submitted by Hugh Gitlin on 05/07/2012 - 09:17 am.

      I think you were a little off

      Figuring 70K seats, 10 games per year:

      $1,623,300,000 (1.6233 Billion).

      Figuring 65K seats, 10 games per year:

      $1,507,350,000 (1.50735 Billion)

Leave a Reply