Is public opinion on Vikings stadium changing? Maybe a little, according to unscientific Fair surveys

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.

For full inspection, the House surveys back to 1997 can be found here. This year’s poll is here. (PDF)

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.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/08/2010 - 02:54 pm.

    How is it that all 3 of the leading gubernatorial candidates are supportive of public involvement in a new facility for the Vikings, when 2/3 of those polled are opposed?

  2. Submitted by John Eidel on 09/09/2010 - 12:17 pm.

    How about posing the following question: “Would you support allowing slot machines at Canterbury Park in order to help pay for a new Vikings stadium?” My vote would be yes.

  3. Submitted by Michael Ernst on 09/09/2010 - 01:09 pm.

    To me, the only thing worse than promoting an unscientific poll as newsworthy is doing so KNOWING that an unscientific poll is not newsworthy.

    If you have to write this story, let me suggest this more appropriate title: “Majority of Fair-Goers that Stop by the House of Representatives Booth Oppose Public Money for a Vikings Stadium”

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/09/2010 - 10:40 pm.

    This is not research, it’s a wast of time. We all know that the only way they got the Twins stadium built with public money was by finding a way around the referendum. Voters will never approve these pro-sports subsidies if given a chance. The problem is that most adults realize that these welfare programs for billionaire owners and millionaire players are simply inappropriate.

  5. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/10/2010 - 10:37 am.

    I’d recommend that all three candidates read Dave Zirin’s new book on sports or at least his article, “What Owners Owe Us,” in the August edition of The Progressive. Of owners, he says in part —

    “Owners are uniquely charged with being the stewards of the game. It’s a task they have failed to perform in spectacular fashion.

    “In fact, with barely a sliver of scrutiny, they are wrecking the world of sports. The old model of the paternalistic owner caring for a community has become as outdated as the typewriter. Because of publicly funded stadium construction, luxury box licenses, sweetheart cable deals, globalized merchandising plans, and other ‘revenue streams,’ the need for owners to cater to a local working and middle class fan base has shrunk dramatically.

    “Fans have become scenery for television broadcasts.”

    We built the Vikings a perfectly sound structure in which to play their fewer than ten games a year. If the Dome doesn’t fit the kind of stadium its owner wants to fill with those who can pay extremely high prices for tickets, why should those who cannot afford those tickets pay for it???

  6. Submitted by William Jewell on 09/13/2010 - 11:37 am.

    MOA Stadium, jobs, no tax money

    A Sports and Event Stadium at Mall of America, the worlds most famous mall, allows for the sale of naming rights at $200 Million perhaps by Apple or Google and lays the grown work for a no tax money stadium that will bring in 10 million new tourists a year for 25,000 new jobs and $75 Billion in new revenue, see more at vikingbuzz(dot)com and call Governor Pawlenty’s Office to help make it happen. William Jewell, Bloomington

Leave a Reply