Is there a mood change among voters about a publicly funded Vikings stadium?
Maybe a tad bit by one admittedly unscientific measure.
Times change, questions change and the numbers are changing, but one thing is certain: Every year there will be a State Fair in Minnesota, and just about every year lawmakers will seek citizens’ opinions on stadium funding. That’s because since about 1993 — from Target Center to Twins to Gophers to Vikings — a stadium issue has been on the legislative plate.
The unscientific polls suggest there’s still wide opposition to public financing of a Vikings stadium, but the percentages of opposition seem to be down from previous years.
Eden Prairie-based stadium expert Tony Spadafora, who has been trying to convince the teams and political leaders of various public-private partnership plans for years, has done the research. Using the House of Representatives unscientific surveys from voters who wander by the House booth at the Fair, Spadafora went back more than a decade to examine the results over the years.
This year, the question was: “The Minnesota Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season. Should public dollars be used to help pay for a new facility?” No voters amounted to 66 percent of the nearly 10,000 who participated, 25 percent said yes, and 9 percent were undecided.
Remember that 66 percent number. Despite a large majority still opposed, it’s as positive a reaction to public funding as just about any similar question has earned over the past dozen years.
Last year, the House asked a different question: Should any public financing for a new stadium be subject to voter approval; 63.5 percent said yes.
In 2007, folks were asked, “Should public financing be used to help fund a new football stadium to house the Minnesota Vikings?”
Answer: 81.4 percent said no.
In 2001, the question: “In general, do you think the state should provide support, through interest-free or low-interest loans, to professional sports teams desiring to build new facilities?”
Twenty-six percent said, “You betcha,” while 67 percent said, “Hell no.”
In 1999, the question was “Should the state contribute funds to help pay for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings?” Nearly 78 percent of Fairgoers said, “No way.”
In 1997, in the midst of the first major Twins ballpark debate, the question was: “ Should the state take an active role in preventing professional athletic teams from leaving Minnesota?”
Even with that somewhat innocuous question, 70 percent of the survey takers said, “No,” to state action on pro sports.
So, 66 percent this year is a boost for the Vikings.
By the way, the Senate conducted a survey, too.
The question at this year’s Fair: “Is it important for the Minnesota Legislature to resolve the Vikings stadium issue before their lease expires at the end of the 2011 season?”
Only a third of those surveyed said yes.
Here were the options:
A. Yes, because the team will likely be sold or relocated. 33.0% (1,939)
B. No, the team will likely remain in Minnesota. 26.2% (1,543)
C. This issue is not important to me. 35.5% (2,087)
D. Undecided/No opinion. 5.4% (315)
We’ll have to wait until January to begin to see where real public opinion stands.