Publicly funded pedestrian bridge at Vikings stadium under fire

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority

Is $6 million even worth counting at this point? Stribber Janet Moore reports, “Its $6 million cost pales in comparison to the $1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium nearby, but a publicly financed pedestrian bridge at the Downtown East light-rail station is provoking protest from critics, many of whom say the team should foot the bill. … Light-rail operator Metro Transit, a division of the Met Council, said the bridge would ‘provide safe post-event pedestrian movements’ — especially during Vikings games. The ridership goal is 40 percent of attendance (capacity for Vikings games is about 65,000 fans). In addition, officials at the authority point out, the stadium also will be used for more than 400 events annually.”

The controversy over a Charlie Hebdo poster advertising a forum at the U of M has flared back up. Maura Lerner of the Strib says, “After initially demanding that the posters be taken down, university officials quickly rescinded the ban, calling it a mistake. Then, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigated and advised the dean of liberal arts to disavow the use of the offending image and ‘use your leadership role to repair the damage’ it caused in the Muslim community. Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law, said she was taken aback by the U’s response. ‘There is no question in my mind that this [poster] was protected speech,’ Kirtley said.”

Also on campus, a U of M student has reported that she was sexually assaulted in her dorm room early Sunday morning. Alex Friedrich at MPR says, “University spokesperson Tim Busse said the 18-year-old freshman was on her way to the bathroom when two men approached her. ‘They came up the stairs, said hello to her, and initiated the conversation,’ Busse said. He had no details on their conversation but said they offered to walk her back to her room. Once there, one of them threatened her with a knife and then both sexually assaulted her. On Monday afternoon, the woman reported the assault to campus police, who are now investigating.”

With that in mind, check out what Susan Du at City Pages reports. “Last week, [DFL Sen. Erin]  Murphy attempted to tack an amendment to a Minnesota House of Representatives higher education bill that would inform college rape victims of the availability of free emergency contraception. She also proposed an amendment to a health and human services bill that would require secular businesses to offer prescription contraception in employee health plans. … Both provisions were booted during debate, with Reps. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) and Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) questioning the relevancy of contraception to the bills under discussion. The health and human services bill governs health plans’ drug coverage; the higher education bill includes an article on how colleges should respond to sexual assault on campus.” Now, if Murphy had appended language promoting silencers on assault rifles … .  

A couple of Greater Minnesota electricity executives have thoughts on the fairness of solar and wind power producers not paying for grid maintenance. In a Strib commentary they write, “This legislative session, consumer-owned utilities are advocating for reform to a law we believe is inherently unfair to the majority of our customers. Small-scale wind and solar producers, known as distributed generators, currently sell their excess generation back to the utility at retail rates (the price at which the consumer-owned utility sells electric power to customers). When distributed generators produce as much energy as they use, they don’t pay anything for the cost of operating the electric grid that they rely on when their wind or solar installation is not producing energy. These costs are built into the electric rates paid by utility customers; if a distributed generator is compensated at the full retail rate, the generating customer is not making any contribution toward the cost of operating the grid; those costs are shifted onto other customers. We believe this is unfair … .”

Also on the same page, veteran urban development writer, Steve Berg writes, “Despite all the acrimony over costs, delays, routing, and now what looks like engineering ineptitude, calling it quits on light rail in the corridor, or converting it to a rapid bus line, would be the wrong thing to do. Here’s why: This is a mega-project aimed at the long term. Twenty years from now, no one will remember the cost. Even so, there’s a good chance that the overrun can be erased by, among other things, lopping off the last three stations, at least temporarily. That would trim the route from 16 miles to 12 while restoring the project’s momentum … .”

The bud is like ripening, dude. In the PiPress, Bob Shaw takes a tour of one of the state’s new authorized pot farms and says, “A year after the Legislature legalized the manufacture of marijuana-based medicines, the two companies are growing and cultivating plants, fine-tuning doses and converting their product to the more medicine-like forms the state allows since the law bans smoking the plant itself. … Because of the quasi-legality, doctors can’t prescribe it. They can only certify that a patient has a condition that can be treated with marijuana — such as certain cancers, glaucoma, AIDS, seizures and some terminal conditions. Those patients will be listed in a statewide registry, allowing them to buy the drugs. Kingsley estimates the cost per patient will be between $300 to $500 a month.”

Governor Dayton gets another shout out from the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn. “So far, the test in Kansas of conservative economic principles has largely been a failure. As we read in the Tribune’s Perspective section Tuesday, large tax cuts and other austerity measures in recent years intended to spur growth have instead resulted in swollen deficits, credit downgrades and public schools having to close early because they’re out of money. In contrast, the test in Minnesota of liberal economic principles has largely been a success. As we will read today, tax and spending increases in recent years have resulted in a budget surplus and a robust economic climate that’s the envy of the state’s Midwestern neighbors. … In contrast, PolitiFact reports that Wisconsin is facing a $2.2 billion shortfall in its upcoming two-year budget. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas appears to be $800 million short for fiscal year 2016.” And that with all our millionaires in … oh, you’ve heard that one before?

Bullet … dodged. Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes, “Despite staunch opposition from Republicans, the DFL-controlled Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointments of Adam Duininck as chairman of the Metropolitan Council and state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. Dayton’s choices of 38 other department heads and members of state boards and commissions sailed through the Senate on voice votes with no audible opposition. But Duininck and Rothman drew partisan broadsides. Noting that Duininck is a former DFL fundraiser and married to Dayton’s chief of staff, Jaime Tinscher, Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, called his appointment ‘cronyism.’”

And why did this take so long? Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR says, “A bill banning the sale of soaps and other personal care products containing plastic microbeads has passed the Minnesota Senate on a bipartisan vote. Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the ban in a 48-15 vote. The measure also has bipartisan support in the House, where it passed as part of a larger spending bill. State Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said microbeads are a big problem in Lake Superior and end up in the fish people catch.”

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Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/06/2015 - 08:30 am.

    Pedestrian bridge

    Well to begin with has Tom Bakk made a promise about it, which the rest of us are obliged to keep?

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/06/2015 - 09:26 am.

      Tom Bakk reaffirms that the DFL is fundamentally responsible…

      …for the Vikings stadium giveaway,

      …which of course leads to the Super Bowl tax giveaway (BTW, who authorized THIS?),

      …which of course leads to the pedestrian bridge giveaway,

      …which of course leads to the (lately) so-called Yard or The Commons or the People’s Park, or whatever the latest phoney-baloney name has been given to mislead the public into thinking it has anything whatsoever to with public ownership or public interest,

      …which of course leads to ______________ (fill in the blank, Tom Bakk !! Don’t forget your place. You’re just an errand boy here.).

      Brian has asked whether it’s worth even counting. This is like asking: “Your government is corrupt – shouldn’t you just get used to it ??”

      Our public officials would like nothing better than to see the public go to sleep about this public corruption, measured in billions.

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/06/2015 - 08:46 am.


    Can we see a list of the alleged 400 events per year at the Zigi Palace? When 10 people paid $5 to roller blade around the Metro Dome concourse they called that an “event”. For all we know it will be an event if the building engineer shows up for work.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/06/2015 - 10:31 am.


      I noticed that, too. It’s pretty basic arithmetic to realize that this means more than one event per day.

      Are the counting birds flying into the glass?

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/06/2015 - 12:25 pm.

        A little birdie told me the claim of 400 events was made…

        …by the MSFA, most likely in collaboration with the folks who estimated the income from the pull-tab bonanza, probably with the help of the Star-Tribune, and then I figure Lester Bagley may have weighed in, too.

        These are the highest quality information resources available about any matters involving the Vikings stadium – at least any that you will see in print.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 05/06/2015 - 03:26 pm.

        Not to defend the stadium

        but the Dome was used nearly every day, even well into the night. High school sports, lacrosse, Legion ball and tournaments of every kind filled the schedule over there. 400 events isn’t a stretch at all.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/06/2015 - 04:12 pm.

          Under the Dome

          Remember that, for much of its existence, the Dome was used for baseball as well as football. There were also a number of years when it was the only, or one of the few, large event venues in town (I remember one year when the boat show was held there).

  3. Submitted by ALAN BELISLE on 05/06/2015 - 09:28 am.


    Here’s an easy way to avoid wasting tens of millions of dollars on the SWLRT. Build it on the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT route. That is the former rail line that has been lying in wait for LRT since 1988. The rail bed is already owned by Hennepin County, is paved with crushed limestone, has less than 5% grade throughout, and runs all the way from Hopkins to Chanhassen, some 13 miles. If we had the will to do it, we could start laying track there tomorrow. All we have to do is overcome the NIMBYs near it and the politicos that want the rails to run past their favorite spots.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/06/2015 - 09:34 am.

    Measuring economic health

    People who have declared the economics of Kansas a failure, compared to Minnesota, for example, are missing the point.

    “As we will read today, tax and spending increases in recent years have resulted in a budget surplus and a robust economic climate that’s the envy of the state’s Midwestern neighbors.” Oh really? The only thing that’s robust in Minnesota is government.

    From Forbes: “The tax cuts in Kansas have been breathtaking. In 2012, at Brownback’s urging, the legislature cut individual tax rates by 25 percent and repealed the tax on sole proprietorships and other “pass-through” businesses. It also increased the standard deduction (though it eliminated some individual credits as well). In 2013, the legislature cut taxes again. It passed a measure to gradually lower rates even more over five years. By 2018, the top rate, which was 6.45 percent in 2012, will fall to 3.9 percent. It also partially restored some of the credits it eliminated in 2012.”

    So what happened after all those tax cuts? State tax revenues collapsed. Yeah? So?

    Instead of the wringing of hands and comparing the financial health of state government, most people would rather concentrate on the financial health of their family. In fact, I know more people who have moved from here to Kansas than vice versa.

    Bottom line, when attempting to ridicule an economic model, don’t assume everyone is rooting for the government to score a windfall at the expense of the taxpayers.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/06/2015 - 01:55 pm.

      And you wonder why your people never get elected?

      You simply use tax rates as the sole measure of success? It’s clearly you who misses the point. But let me put it into terms even you could understand. Let’s cut the tax rates to zero. Let’s not have roads, or schools or police or fire. In the Dennis Tester World, that would be an overwhelming success story. And it would truly be Dennis Tester World, because it would only be inhabited by you and your fellow Tea Partiers. No one else would even bother to visit.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/06/2015 - 03:16 pm.


        Walker and Brownback were re-elected. Walker was elected 3 times, counting the attempt to recall him. Somebody is happy about something.

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/06/2015 - 10:08 am.

    I’ll Forgive the Pedestrian Bridge

    If the Wilfs, et al, actually put up a winning team to go with the new stadium,…

    but, as has been the case everywhere else,…

    they’ll likely field a team akin to the “Cleveland Indians” team attempted by their owner in the movie “Major League,”…

    in the expectation that the new stadium will fill itself, regardless of the team on the field,…

    because it IS new,…

    and they’ll only have to spend the money to field a decent team about five years down the road,…

    when the stadium will still be new enough, that, if they field a decent team,…

    they’ll be able to sell the franchise at MASSIVE profit to themselves,…

    (and early in the life of the expensive contracts of the players they’ve hired),…

    a profit achieved at the expense of the fans and citizens of Minnesota, and the taxpayers of Hennepin county,…

    In which case, if the Wilfs sell in under five years, they should be made to retroactively pay for the bridge out of the profits they make when the sell the franchise.

  6. Submitted by john herbert on 05/06/2015 - 10:10 am.

    I’ll remember Steve

    Sorry Steve but “lopping off” stations does not erase an overrun, it just postpones and magnifies the deficiency. Plus, if I am still alive twenty years from now I will be paying the bill.

    Perhaps this project just does not work financially in either the short or long run and we do not continue to spend and commit good money for a less than reasonable return.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/06/2015 - 12:02 pm.

      Steve Berg is the same guy who asked, “Anybody still think…

      …Target Field was a bad idea?” Seriously, he did so, and right here on MinnPost. He did so in his enthusiastic rah-rah-rah-ing in support of massive public subsidies for the Vikings stadium.

      So Mr. Berg figures everyone who howled their objections will forget, forget, forget – the same way Steve Berg suggests that over time, you will forget getting screwed over in more wasted public monies. In fact, he recommends it !!!

      There is an ongoing value in funding projects the public supports. Our public officials might consider at some point that extremely controversial projects, like the SWLRT, will poison the well.

  7. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 05/06/2015 - 10:21 am.

    The Vikes have cash

    Per the Vikes’ own PR newswire:

    March 27, 2015 – The Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf family committed an additional $19.5 million toward the new stadium to go into the overall stadium budget and will be directed toward items like plaza enhancements, food service equipment, event level space build-outs for game day entertainment and staff, retractable seating upgrades, a Club Purple deck that overlooks downtown Minneapolis, among others.

    In April they also managed to “find” $1.2 million extra to build 15 additional norsmen suites.

    So, yeah, they can pay $6M for a stadium-specific bridge to somewhere (that I doubt will get used much unless fans are forced there by the cops.

  8. Submitted by elliot rothenberg on 05/06/2015 - 11:26 am.

    freedom of speech

    Professor Kirtley is absolutely correct. Students have a First Amendment right to express their views by the poster. Unfortunately, at many institutions of academia, obeisance to the dictates of political correctitude takes precedence over freedom of speech.

  9. Submitted by Tom Reinan on 05/06/2015 - 12:00 pm.

    Battle of the Anecdotes

    Dennis, I am aware of a family that left Kansas and I don’t know anyone who moved there recently, so I guess the anecdotal evidence is a wash. I’ll update if I become aware of any more movement.

    What is most interesting to me about the conservative experiments that are going on in Wisconsin and Kansas, compared to the progressive experiment happening in Minnesota are these points:
    – After 6 years in Kansas and Wisconsin, none of the good things that were supposed to happen, have happened;
    – After 3 years in Minnesota, none of the bad things that were supposed to happen (people and businesses fleeing to low-tax states, economic stagnation) have happened.

    None of this proves anything, except that conservative prognosticators lack credibility.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/06/2015 - 01:39 pm.


      on what you mean by “good” and “bad.” Both Walker and Brownback won re-election so somebody is happy.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/06/2015 - 03:22 pm.


        For them. Not so much for anyone else.

      • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/06/2015 - 03:38 pm.

        An interesting benchmark

        Please, Mr. Tester. Re-election is the measure of policy success? If we use that standard, presumably you’re equally pleased that Mr. Obama has been a success, as has Mr. Dayton.

        I have relatives in Wisconsin (they have no desire whatsoever to move to Kansas) who are less-than-happy with Mr. Walker’s policy choices. Anecdotal “evidence” is generally not very convincing, from you or from them.

        In the meantime, by numerous objective measures, the “trickle-down,” “supply side” economics practiced by Mr. Brownback in Kansas has been an abject failure. So much so, in fact, that Mr. Brownback has had to do a little backpedaling on some of his statements predicting economic and social success. When schools close early because they’ve run out of money, it’s not – or at least should not be among those who like to call themselves civilized – something in which to take pride.

  10. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 05/06/2015 - 06:44 pm.

    Net domestic migration, MN v KS & WI, 2010-2014

    Summary: All 3 states consistently lost population to domestic migration. Kansas lost the most in numbers (1.9x that of Minnesota) and had the highest rate of loss (3.6x that of Minnesota). Minnesota fared best in both amounts and rates in 3 of the 4 single-year periods and has done the best during the past two most recent years.

    Minnesota -3,347
    Wisconsin -6,240
    Kansas -9,043

    Kansas -5,151
    Minnesota -8,891
    Wisconsin -9,455

    Minnesota -2,238
    Wisconsin -7,854
    Kansas -12,632

    Minnesota -6,696
    Wisconsin -9,931
    Kansas -13,804

    Total, 2010-2014
    Minnesota -21,172
    Wisconsin -33,480
    Kansas -40,630

    RATES (per 1,000 inhabitants)
    Minnesota -0.63
    Wisconsin -1.09
    Kansas -3.16

    Wisconsin -1.65
    Minnesota -1.66
    Kansas -1.79

    Minnesota -0.41
    Wisconsin -1.37
    Kansas -4.37

    Minnesota -1.23
    Wisconsin -1.73
    Kansas -4.76

    Total, 2010-2014
    Minnesota -3.93
    Wisconsin -5.85
    Kansas -14.09


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