As a Vikings deal begins to unfold, Rep. Jeremy Kalin has some pointed questions about any stadium concept.
About three weeks ago, the Chisago County DFLer sent a letter to Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf wondering about the sustainability of high school sports while the Vikings seek public funding for a new stadium. Kalin released the letter today.
Kalin serves on the House Local Government Division scheduled to hold the first hearing on the Vikings Stadium bill Tuesday. Kalin is considering offering an amendment to any stadium bill that would include funding for high school sports.
On April 12, Kalin wrote to Wilf:
“Last spring, the Minnesota House Local Government Division held an information hearing on the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission’s latest economic development impact study. That study looked at the potential economic impact of constructing a new facility for the Minnesota Vikings that could also accommodate other events, including the dozens of high school sports championships contested currently at the Metrodome.
“While that economic impact study showed the potential to create hundreds and hundreds of construction jobs, the Commission released it in the midst of the deepest economic crisis in decades. Minnesota continues to face long-term budget deficits that are requiring serious reconsideration of our state priorities. I know that I am not alone in opposing diverting current general fund dollars from schools or nursing homes to support a new Vikings facility.
“However, as problem-solvers, I don’t believe that legislators, including myself, have a full grasp of the cost of the status quo. I hope you will help me and other legislators, particularly members of the Minnesota House Local Government Division, better understand the costs of not solving this particular problem. As we address our state’s challenges for the long-term, we have to consider all our options, including doing nothing in 2010 or in 2011.
“I hope you can answer for me the many questions that would arise should we decide not to act on this problem, this year. If not the Metrodome, where might the Vikings play after the Metrodome lease expires? Absent the Vikings lease, where might the Minnesota State High School League host its many tournaments and championships? Without Vikings revenue, how could the High School League pay for the use of the Metrodome or other facility?
“While I understand that you have publicly committed not to move the Vikings team from Minnesota, I also understand that you could sell the team to another ownership group that could leave Minnesota for another host community. Given the economic collapse, what is today’s market value of the franchise? Have any of the other often-mentioned potential alternatives made formal or informal inquiries or offers to you or other members of the Vikings leadership team?
“The Vikings bear the name “Minnesota” for good reason. They are a statewide asset. As such, any potential solution to the Vikings facility challenge should go beyond job creation and provide specific benefits to all parts of our great state. As I pointed out in last February’s hearing, some school districts in Minnesota are in such deficits that they are considering the unthinkable — eliminating school-sponsored activities, including the athletic competitions that today culminate in state championship battles at the current Metrodome facility.”
So far, Kalin’s office said, Wilf hasn’t replied.