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It’s ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay’ today for stadium

Today is the day. Or at least we expect it to be today.

At the fan site SB Nation Minnesota, Christopher Gates writes: “If the vote goes Minnesota’s way, then Viking fans from coast to coast and border to border will breathe a sigh of relief and know that their team dodged a pretty significant bullet. If it doesn’t go Minnesota’s way, there’s a very good chance that this will be the last season of NFL football in Minnesota. The Vikings have made it clear that they are not playing any longer in the Metrodome without a new stadium agreement in place. If this bill gets shot down, owner Zygi Wilf will likely either declare his intention to move the team, or he’ll put the team on the market and sell them to someone that will. In my perspective … and it pains me to say this … but if the Vikings leave Minnesota, the chances of the NFL coming back to Minnesota are somewhere between slim and none. No team that’s a candidate for relocation will move to Minnesota to play in the Metrodome, so there will have to be a new stadium built, likely at a significantly higher cost than the current plan calls for. In addition, with all of the acrimony that has marked the current set of stadium hearings, the NFL likely would not be in any hurry to attempt to negotiate anything with Minnesota again. Why would they be? Monday could be a new beginning for NFL football in the state of Minnesota. It could also be the beginning of the end. One way or another, Minnesota Vikings history will be made in St. Paul on Monday.”

The AP offers a cosmic view of the stadium choice, saying: “The Vikings are embroiled in a fight for a new stadium that may jeopardize the franchise’s 51-year tenure in Minnesota. And if you think that’s just a local story, think again. The situation could be a preview of showdowns in St. Louis, San Diego, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Oakland in the coming years. NFL officials have said repeatedly that the league isn’t interested in expansion, and with cities including Los Angeles and Toronto among those that could host a team, it creates a situation in which the threat of relocation will hang for some time over locations faced with franchise demands for a new stadium. … NFL vice president of business operations Eric Grubman recently said he has a list ‘longer than my arm of interested buyers in cities all over the place’ but named only Los Angeles and Toronto as viable markets for the league. Expansion doesn’t appear to be an alternative. … If deals aren’t worked out to stay, moving seems to be the alternative because the NFL’s 32-team structure has the advantage of competitively balanced schedules and division alignments. Plus, recent contract extensions with the over-the-air TV networks run through 2022; total revenue from CBS, Fox and NBC that year alone will be $3.1 billion. Another team or two would force the NFL to cut that lucrative pie into more pieces.”

An earlier AP story said:Fiscally conservative Republicans loathe the potential handout, but the party’s business wing wants to preserve a valuable asset in the city’s core. Democrats — especially the party’s labor base — crave the thousands of hardhat jobs that would come with a new stadium. The Vikings would have to kick in $427 million — which isn’t enough for some lawmakers. ‘I’m concerned about whether the owner is footing enough of the bill,’ said Sen. Julianne Ortman, the Senate’s deputy Republican leader. ‘I’m really concerned that what we’ve got is a minority partner in this project dictating the terms, wagging the dog if you will.’ … Some would-be opponents are tripped up by their fandom. Rep. Chris Swedzinksi, a Republican from rural southwestern Minnesota and a likely yes vote, said some of his most hard-right constituents want the stadium. He called it ‘a beast all on its own.’ ‘I’ve got folks that I know are active in the tea party that have said, you know, I’m going to suspend my rational thought right now, Chris,’ Swedzinski said. ‘I know what I believe and I know where this country’s headed if we continue down this path — but don’t lose the Vikings.’ ” But, just guessing here, single-payer health care would be a whole other kind of thing.

The Grand Forks Herald’s Tom Dennis is onboard for the stadium, big time: “Of all of the talk about the Vikings stadium, some of the most sensible has come from Twin Cities chief executives who are used to weighing costs and benefits, looking down the road on behalf of their businesses and making complex decisions. Ecolab CEO Doug Baker and U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis spoke last month to columnist Lori Sturdevant of the Star Tribune. Their words are worth coming back to today, now that a Vikings stadium deal is coming up for a vote, and the margin is likely to be close — it’s ‘fourth and inches,’ as the Associated Press put it. As lawmakers from northwestern Minnesota make up their minds, they should give special weight to the thoughts of Baker, Davis and others in the Minnesota business community. That’s because these executives’ only ideology is to figure out what’s best for Minnesota’s economy, business climate and civic health. … [Said Davis:] ‘I can’t put a dollar amount around it. I can’t say that the world will fall apart if we don’t have an NFL franchise here two years from now. But it will be a lot less attractive and a lot less easy to brag about the headquarters being in one of the great American cities.’ ” So … even a top banker “can’t put a dollar figure on it”?

At the union website workdayMinnesota, Barb Kucera writes: “Buoyed by a rally that featured former Minnesota Vikings running back Chuck Foreman, union members plan to jam the state Capitol Monday as legislators decide whether to fund stadium and bonding bills that would create thousands of jobs. The measures — one to build and repair the state’s infrastructure and another to finance construction of a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis — are scheduled to receive votes on the House floor Monday, according to House Speaker Kurt Zellers.”

On practically every page in every section over the weekend, the Strib was hyping the stadium. Sid … Hartman naturally led the way. A couple of classic lines: “[Ted] Mondale had an important point when he said, ‘When you let an NFL franchise go, you look like a B-class city,’ adding: ‘At the end of the day, of the money that the state would be putting in, with no new taxes, the state would be putting in the equivalent of $398 million. The state will make a profit on that over the 30 years of $144 million. It’s a 36 percent profit on your investment. I mean, if you can’t do that, what’s a good way to spend money?’ I agree with Mondale that there are so many upsides to getting this stadium built besides getting some 700 workers back on a job. … And a note to Gov. Dayton: There has to be a way where you give in on some bills to the Republicans and they give in to you on the stadium. I’m sure the Republicans, led by House Speaker Kurt Zellers, will negotiate, and everybody can come out happy by bringing the greatest thing for Minnesota, resulting in not only keeping the Vikings here but so many other positives as well. Ask the politicians in other NFL cities how much their communities have benefited by building a covered stadium, with providing a modern home for their football teams just a small part of it.” Heck, everyone I know is booking summer vacations to Indianapolis.

And yes, that was a lot of rain over the weekend: 2.31 inches at the airport Saturday night. Here’s a NOAA map and AccuWeather data.

The AP also has a story about gun sales are booming (sorry) in Wisconsin: ” ‘It’s incredible,” said Steve Lauer, owner of Lauer Custom Weaponry, which manufactures firearms, firearm coatings and accessories in Chippewa Falls. “We can hardly keep up.”
Exact figures on firearms sales don’t exist, but based on the number of calls made to the FBI and Wisconsin Department of Justice for background checks related to firearms purchases, more guns are being sold this year than ever … The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the nation’s most prominent gun-control organizations, said higher household gun ownership ‘correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.’ The Brady Campaign also said ‘the percentage of American households with a gun has been steadily declining over time’ and that gun sales are concentrated among people who already own guns. Regardless, the renewed interest in guns has been good for arms-related businesses across Wisconsin.”

At the Ripple in Stillwater blog, Karl Bremer notes the coincidence of Michele Bachmann linking up with Mitt Romney just as charity fraudster “Bobby Thompson” was nabbed out in Oregon: “The same week the fugitive and big-spending Republican Party contributor-on-the-lam known as ‘Bobby Thompson’ was captured in Portland, OR, by federal marshals after a nationwide manhunt, one of the recipients of ‘Thompson’s’ largesse, Michele Bachmann, endorsed another — Mitt Romney — for president. Coincidence — or an attempt by the now-amorous politicians to divert attention from their connection to what may be one of the largest charity scams in U.S. history? ‘Thompson’ donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and Republican Party entities, all of it suspected to be skimmed from his fraudulent charity, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.  He donated $10,000 to Michele Bachmann’s congressional campaign in 2010 and $2,300 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2007. In an attempt to wash her hands of the dirty money in the glare of unwelcome publicity over the donation, Bachmann donated her campaign’s share of the donation to two legitimate veterans’ organizations. The Republican Party of Minnesota kept their share of the donation from ‘Thompson.’ ” We think it’s a coincidence, of course. But the guy was a loyal supporter.

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Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by William Souder on 05/07/2012 - 06:49 am.

    Vikings Stadium

    And let’s don’t forget the most important reason to buy a stadium for Mr. Wilf: A new facility will make the Vikings more competitive. They’ll be winners! Just look at how well the Twins are doing thanks to their new ballpark.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/07/2012 - 07:11 am.

    Wagging the dog

    At least there’s one Republican in office willing to call this particular spade for what it is. If Mr. Wilf wants a new stadium – and why not, given his income and the prospects for a team that obviously has a die-hard fan base – let HIM borrow the money and build whatever kind of stadium he wants. And let those die-hard fans help him pay for it.

    A taxpayer with no interest in football and a nodding acquaintance with the rest of the planet might note that Paris, Rome, London, Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, Singapore, etc., seem to somehow avoid the “Class ‘B’ ” label despite not EVER having an NFL team. There are reasons to travel to another part of the globe that have nothing to do with American-style football, and many millions of people live quite satisfying lives without ever having seen an NFL game.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/07/2012 - 07:29 am.

    No intention of playing in the dome eh?

    Well, then where are they going to play? The most disgusting thing about this whole affair is the near complete absence of an representation on behalf of the people of MN. Any normal advocate in any situation like this would meet the Vikings threat with a simple question: So where you gonna play while build your new stadium somewhere else? The Vikings have no lease at the dome, and we are under obligation to act as a placeholder while they build a new stadium somewhere else.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/07/2012 - 07:50 am.

    Winkler is in

    Over the weekend my representative Ryan Winker sent out an e-mail declaring his support for the Vikings stadium. He doesn’t like it but apparently he’s reached (and I suspect he’s not alone) the conclusion that what’s good for the Vikings is good for MN. He says it’s a job programs.

    While I appreciate his candor, he’s simply wrong. This stadium deal spends nearly a million dollars per full time equivalent job. Good jobs programs spend $8.00 or less. The average job that will be created by this project will last for three months or less.

    When you dump this much money into so many short term jobs in such a short period of time (two years) and then dedicate $40 million a year to debt payments for 30 years, you’re actually doing more harm than good. You’ve set up a new revenue stream that will do absolutely nothing for the economy for at least 28 years. Worse, you made $40 million worth of tax revenue off limits for anything other than debt payment. I remind you all, this is not a capital bonding bill, this is a stadium for the NFL.

  5. Submitted by Brian Frederick on 05/07/2012 - 08:16 am.

    Where will the Vikings go?

    “If it doesn’t go Minnesota’s way, there’s a very good chance that this will be the last season of NFL football in Minnesota.”

    Where will they go? Seriously. There is no alternative in LA or any other city for that matter. An LA stadium is several years away and it will be even harder to get public funding for an LA stadium than one in Minneapolis.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/07/2012 - 09:33 am.

      That’s incorrect..

      look, I’m in agreement that we shouldn’t use public dollars on pro sports, but people need to stop spreading the myth that there’s no place for the Vikings to go. The Rose Bowl holds 6 figures and there are plenty of temporary alternatives until a stadium is built.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/07/2012 - 08:29 am.

    Re: The Vikings

    Go Gophers.

  7. Submitted by L.A. Krahn on 05/07/2012 - 08:44 am.

    With more than four decades of evidence

    …to back them up, economists uniformly agree that publicly financed stadiums rarely pay for themselves,” Ken Belson in “As Stadiums Vanish, Their Debt Lives On” NY Times 9/7/2010.

    Perhaps your legislator could be shocked back to a sense of reality by the accompanying graphs to this article, assuming until now they’ve been rendered starry-eyed by uniforms, bullied by the NFL brass, bamboozled by fans and confused by the numbers.

  8. Submitted by Nathan Roisen on 05/07/2012 - 09:02 am.

    From the NYT article….

    “But while other cities raised or introduced taxes to pay for their stadiums, the project’s chief cheerleader, Gov. William T. Cahill, promised that the racetrack would pay for itself and Giants Stadium, and that taxpayers would not be liable. In effect, the state gambled on gambling.

    To ensure that there was enough money, the racetrack in the Meadowlands was allowed to keep 12 percent of each dollar bet as opposed to 5 percent at other tracks in New Jersey. That way, more cash would be available for other building projects and any excess would be sent to the state.”

    The original Meadowlands stadium was supposed to be paid for by gambling, but was demolished with over 100 million still owed on it. I really hope we do not choose to choke on our magic pull tabs.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/07/2012 - 09:02 am.

    4 decades

    We have to start talking about the corrupt nature of our political system in MN. We have a stadium deal here that actually harms the economy more than it helps, and I KNOW my elected representatives are aware of the economics, yet they’re gonna vote for it anyways, why?

    They say this jobs plan is better than no jobs plan. Frankly, I know they’re too smart to arrive at that conclusion. So why vote for this? No one is going to lose their office because this bill fails, even if the Vikings could leave they got nowhere to go for a minimum of three years, so this election cycle is safe either way. Obviously something else is motivating this bill, it’s not wise public policy, it’s bad economics, and not supported by the people of MN.

    Clearly an out of state billionaires and local millionaires are able to capture our government and force bad policy down the people’s throats. It may be legal, but how can that be described as anything other than a corrupted process? Look: in a political climate where elections are being won by less than 1% of the vote, why are politicians on both sides so willing to alienate voters? The only issue they can some together in a bipartisan way on is a $40 million a year pro-sports entitlement program? Really?

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/07/2012 - 01:06 pm.

      We have weak-minded legislators…

      …who furthermore have no spine. We elected schmoos to high office, and now what we are going to get is the very best government that money can buy.

      Don’t be so certain that “It may be legal…” because there is a great deal taking place in the dark and behind closed doors in this matter. It may be that some illegal actions ARE being taken to get the votes they are after. I wouldn’t be surprised.

      I would like to see a RICO prosecution of the NFL – a corrupt organization in my eyes.

      Your arguments are all rational. That’s another problem. Rationality doesn’t matter here, or very little.

  10. Submitted by Jim Camery on 05/07/2012 - 09:17 am.

    What they need is a way to have it both ways…

    Speaking of, where is Sen. Koch on this one?

  11. Submitted by Bill Kellett on 05/07/2012 - 09:18 am.

    Go Vikes! No, please just go.

    As if we the people have anything to say about this gift to the billionaires. With great wealth comes more great wealth. It’s the American way, so just shut up and enjoy.~
    Funny there’s no architect in the state that couldn’t have added enough luxury boxes to the old dome to satisfy the bottom line. Wipe out some of those cheap seats and put in expensive corporate party rooms. Who knew that would be so hard.

  12. Submitted by Tom Clark on 05/07/2012 - 09:42 am.

    At least we have the pleasure

    of watching Republican legislators do the crappie flop on the stadium vote after Governor Dayton hooked ’em on it.

    Those who want the Vikes to leave might want to consider the example of the North Stars before committing to a sports divorce and never getting hitched to an NFL franchise ever again.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/07/2012 - 10:51 am.

    Sports divorce

    Sports franchises don’t move around because fans want or don’t want them. They move or expand because they think they can make money in a given market. Yes, we should look at the NHL deal. That arena was built with $130 million public dollars, half was state loan, half was a city loan. It’s been nothing drain. Half of the state loan has already been forgiven because the team complained about the payments, and no they want the rest of it forgiven. Meanwhile the rent on the arena is barely paying off the cities debt and St. Paul is starting sing the blues over upgrade and maintenance costs similar to the problem MPLS is having with the Timber Wolves arena.

    Basketball and Hockey did NOT return to Minnesota because of any kind of fan demand. The NHL and NBA came to MN because they thought they could make money here. Sports is not a government entitlement program, we do need these Franchises, and do not have to spend public money to bring them in.

    • Submitted by Tom Clark on 05/07/2012 - 11:25 am.

      Sports aren’t an entitlement program

      they’re a romantic attachment. That’s why after years of doing without NHL hockey thanks to being jilted by that cad Norm Green we saw Norm Coleman schmooze the NHL with the promise of a new arena in St. Paul. You can’t put a dollar figure on that sort of thing, as it’s a point of civic pride. Which goes before a fall, yadda, yadda, yadda.

      FYI, only $17 million of that state loan of $65 million was forgiven, in exchange for use of the Xcel for high school hockey tournament games.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/07/2012 - 01:38 pm.

        civic pride

        “You can’t put a dollar figure on that sort of thing, as it’s a point of civic pride.”

        Sure you can, it seem to be $10 million dollars or less, which is why we never to get demonstrate our civic pride with a referendum.

        Frankly, I think turning these deals down engenders more civic pride. I will by only be disgusted by my legislators votes for this billion dollar welfare system for a Jersey billionaire. I would be proud of my community were it to turn this down and demonstrate maturity and an ability to stand up for the people and establish decent community priorities.

        • Submitted by Tom Clark on 05/07/2012 - 02:25 pm.

          In 1973 when that Minneapolis charter amendment was enacted

          fifteen million dollars was just that. These days it’s just so much pocket change, which is why holding a referendum on that amount today is silly. When St. Paul is spending over $250 million on the Union Depot restoration (to be sure, over half that is coming from the federal government) it’s ironic to see how much opposition there is to another piece of public infrastructure that’s in the same ball park money wise.

    • Submitted by Mark Mathews on 05/09/2012 - 02:27 pm.

      This is a good point about the Wild situation with the Excel. Also, I agree it’s the league’s themselves that drive this stuff. I would say that if we decide not to build this stadium, then we had better pass legislation that would prohibit and public funds being spent to construct a football stadium or freshen up Target Center for a prosepctive team to come back in. I would think this would be a no-brainer given the track record of what has happened in other cities.

  14. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 05/07/2012 - 10:55 am.

    The next vote

    After the Twins Target field vote, all of the Hennepin County commissioners were reelected. All of us opposed to this Vikings stadium boondoggle have to oust as many of the pro-stadium people as possible, which is the only way to begin to end this blackmail that occurs regularly on a national level.

  15. Submitted by James Hamilton on 05/07/2012 - 12:19 pm.

    Yes, “Monday could be a new beginning for NFL football”

    in the USA, but only if Minnesota says ‘no’. It could mean the end of public subsidies for NFL stadia around the country, for the simple reason that there aren’t enough markets to absorb those teams that would threaten relocation. Knuckle under and we perpetuate a business model predicated on feeding at the public trough while owners, players and related businesses reap the rewards.

    If we refuse to pay for a new stadium and the Vikings leave, so be it. I’d rather spend $600 million on long term jobs than a few short term construction jobs, or construction jobs throughout the state as we rebuild deficient infrastructure.

    I received this from my state representative the other day, a woman apparently reluctant to tell her constituents where she stands: “The Vikings stadium remains an unresolved issue at the State Capitol. The proposal has taken shape, though changes within and about it shift regularly. So far neither the House nor Senate has taken an up-or-down vote on the Vikings stadium proposal, though leaders in both legislative bodies have now signaled a vote on the proposal on Monday. I am grateful for all of the input from the citizens, supporters and opponents, in our district. It helps me contemplate the pros and cons of the stadium.” She’s not responded to my reply: “I’m sorry to see that you didn’t include your stand on the Vikings stadium. I assume that you are prepared to vote for public funding. Correct?” Too busy considering the merits of the bill, no doubt.

    A party regular, I fully expect her to fall in line with Gov. Dayton.

    • Submitted by Tom Clark on 05/07/2012 - 01:48 pm.

      If sports subsidies end

      they’ll end for the NBA and NHL first and not the NFL, since the NFL is the gold standard for being considered a “major league” city instead of a cold Omaha or warm Winnipeg.

  16. Submitted by Wayne Swickley on 05/07/2012 - 12:37 pm.

    Re: Rain Gauge

    The hypertext isn’t set up right on the AccuWeather link.

  17. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/07/2012 - 02:12 pm.

    If just one city and state would stand up to the NFL….

    everything would change for stadiums around the country. Saying no to a new stadium would be the biggest sports news in the country and every other city with a similar situation would take heart. For many years NFL ticket prices, stadium prices, player salaries, in game advertising rates and all the rest have increased way faster than the inflation in the rest of the economy. That would come to a halt if just once someone said no. Won’t happen here though because the fix is in.

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