As expected, the political left and right have been brought together at the state Capitol over the Vikings’ stadium. And, as expected, both left and right oppose any subsidy.
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, and Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, held a news conference this morning to announce their left-right proposal to save the Vikings at no cost to taxpayers.
They want to give the Metrodome to the team.
But even as they were making this offer, they seemed to understand it wasn’t going anywhere.
“We offer this proposal not as a perfect solution but one that reflects fiscal responsibility and fairness for both the Vikings and the people of Minnesota,” Marty said. “Rep. Runbeck and I recognize that the Vikings initial reaction will not be favorable, but we believe that when they conduct an honest assessment of the situation, they will understand the fairness of the proposal.”
Marty was correct. The Vikings reaction was not favorable.
Shortly after the legislators’ news conference, the team issued a statement calling the offer “a non-starter. … the facility no longer works for the team.”
If nothing else, however, the proposal shows how difficult — maybe impossible — for the Legislature to come to any sort of agreement on a subsidy package for the team.
Marty pointed out that at a time when grass-roots movements on the right (Tea Party) and the left (Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots, such as OccupyMN) oppose corporate bailouts, it’s foolish for the state legislators to consider the sort of deals the Vikings seek.
The half-cent sales tax that Ramsey County commissioners have proposed as the county’s portion of a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills is record-setting, Marty said.
“Despite the Vikings’ attempts to make their Ramsey County deal sound like a run-of-the-mill, routine proposal, this would be the biggest taxpayer subsidy of any sports team in history,” Marty said.
With interest over the years, the Ramsey County sales tax would amount to more than $600 million, Marty said.
Runbeck was just as adamant in her opposition.
“We truly do want the Vikings to remain in Minnesota, but it’s time to end the cycle of taxpayer funding of shrines to professional sports that are used for 10 to 12 games a year.”
The big question, of course, is whether pols such as Runbeck can have it both ways by keeping the Vikings but avoiding taxpayer funds.
Gov. Mark Dayton was asked about the Marty-Runbeck proposal at a news conference earlier this week.
He said he hadn’t heard of the plan, at that time, but calculated that the Metrodome has an assessed value of between $18 million and $36 million. The team is seeking more than $600 million in public subsidy. That would seem to represent a substantial dollar gap.
Minnesota Public Radio reported that Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, was floating the idea of using Legacy funding from the recent outdoors/arts constitutional amendment to help fund a stadium.
That trial balloon was being shot full of holes by both hunting and arts organizations, which benefit from the 3/8 cents sales tax voters opted for in supporting the amendment in 2008.
At the time of the amendment campaign, there was no mention that funds might end up being used to support a pro sports team.
Dayton is to meet with legislative leaders on Monday to see if any progress has been made in finding an answer to the Vikings’ claims of a stadium need.