Mark Dayton and Zygi Wilf were meeting yesterday. I can only imagine the epic amount of stammering going on:
The governor convened the meeting of Ramsey County officials, team owners Mark and Zygi Wilf, legislative sponsors of a stadium bill and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale. After two hours, all emerged from the closed-door meeting preaching optimism, but looking borderline grim.
The hang up continues to be road funding:
The Vikings and Ramsey County offered a plan Monday that would seek state and local grants to cover half the cost. The rest would come in the form of a cash advance either from a Ramsey County bond issue or an interest-free state loan. The bonds or the loan would be paid back through fees and surcharges at the new stadium.
Dayton, however, said state grants for roads would count against the $300 million limit. The governor also said he would prefer something more direct than the “piecemeal financing” road proposal. He insisted that no state general fund money would go to the stadium, but other than that, “I don’t rule anything out. … If we can get a federal grant, great.”
A few thoughts. First, Dayton hates to “piecemeal” anything. That’s been his excuse for holding the state hostage with the government shutdown and why he vetoed virtually every budget bill that the Legislature passed. So it’s hardly surprising that he’s taken this stance on the witches’ brew of funding that the Vikings and their eager rubes partners from Ramsey County have offered.
Second, why would anyone expect a federal grant of anything to help build a football stadium? Dayton seems to be pulling that notion out of the air, or someplace else that we’d rather not contemplate.
Third — given the amount of fees and surcharges that are contemplated to build this thing, you have to wonder how anyone is going to be able to afford to go to a Vikings game. The face value for the ticket of the last NFL game I attended was $83. One could easily imagine the cost of a ducat at the new place, with all the surcharges included, to be somewhere north of $150. Now add in the $40 parking and you’re talking about a pretty expensive afternoon. Perhaps there’s a market for this, but I’m wondering where it is.
The Star Tribune article mentions a supposed legislative deadline of Friday. That’s probably negotiable, but the hour is drawing late. The question remains: how valuable are the Vikings to Minnesota?