Five More Questions: GOP Sen. Roger Chamberlain: We got ‘rolled’ by the Vikings

Courtesy of Senate Media Services
Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain distinguished himself from the legislative pack by being one of the very few elected officials making sustained criticism of the rush to concede to the NFL’s standard, taxpayer-heavy paradigm for stadium financing.

Editor’s note: Five More Questions is an occasional series by Brian Lambert that follows up on people and events in the news.

As for the Vikings stadium deal, realists will say it’s all over but the shouting, and that even shouting isn’t worth your time. It is what it is and it is done.

The team, the governor and the Minnesota Sports Facility Authorities have all assured the public the stadium will begin construction this November … under the terms of the deal negotiated by them.

It’s an arrangement that obligates Minnesota (and Minneapolis) taxpayers to a $498 million “contribution,” as the principals like to describe it, and allows the team owners, the Wilf family of New Jersey, to use a loan from the NFL and revenue from the stadium itself to cover more than 90 percent of their … “contribution.” (The precise details of the NFL loan — such as the interest rate and duration —are not publicly known.)

But before the history of the agreement is re-written, we sought out second-term Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain. He represents a chunk of the north metro that includes North Oaks, Dellwood, Lino Lakes and a slice of White Bear Lake.

Chamberlain distinguished himself from the legislative pack by being one of the very few elected officials making sustained criticism of the rush to concede to the NFL’s standard, taxpayer-heavy paradigm for stadium financing.

We met in a North Oaks coffee shop, and I posed these five questions to Chamberlain:

MP: From time to time we still hear fiery vows to somehow re-litigate this deal in terms more favorable to taxpayers. Is that just empty bluster, or do you see a possibility of legislative action in the next session?

Sen. Roger Chamberlain: Well, my personal opinion is we should take the whole thing down to the studs and do it right. And we should do it because it’s a mess the way it is. We’re tapping general funds [one-time cigarette tax money and revenue from closing business loopholes] to pay for it. Those of us who were opposed to this believe that is the right thing to do.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings
Chamberlain on stadium deal: “My personal opinion is we should take the whole thing down to the studs and do it right.”

But the reality, especially in an election year, is that most people want this to go away, be settled and the ink to dry. They don’t want lawsuits flying around. Their attitude is: “Build the stadium and let’s move on.”

The thing is, it didn’t have to be this way. The San Francisco 49ers have a model that doesn’t rely as heavily on taxpayers. [The stadium authority there will recapture the lion’s share of naming rights and seat license revenue.] Atlanta has a better plan for its new stadium.

5 More QuestionsMP: But in an election year, wouldn’t a drive to reclaim the naming-rights money and the personal-seat-license cash for the taxpayer end of the deal have populist appeal?

Chamberlain: Well, that’s an interesting point. But you’d still have to get it through the committees to change that piece of it. And that would be tough. Sen. [Julie] Rosen wants to run for governor, and she certainly doesn’t want this thing opened up again. And the Wilfs have made it clear that that money is theirs, and my guess is the NFL would object as well.

MP: The NFL’s influence over this deal seems to have been pretty substantial. Nevermind the commissioner, Roger Goodell, flying into town and all the local folks trying to squeeze into the same photo-op with him. What I always thought remarkable was that the threat of the Vikings moving to Los Angeles was accepted as an inevitability by the governor and other legislators.

You were in meetings with some of these people — what conclusive evidence did they ever have to believe that the NFL would move the team?

Chamberlain: They had no conclusive evidence. We, on the other hand, had much more conclusive evidence that there was no chance in hell they were going to move it. I mean here’s Los Angeles, the second-biggest city and TV market in the country, and Oakland [Raiders] left. And there was clearly no appetite in California for a new taxpayer-subsidized stadium, and it would cost the Wilfs a lot just to get the team out there.

But as you know, Gov. Dayton said he didn’t like the deal but was resigned to it because, “This is the way these things are done.” He accepted what the league was saying. And by that time, the deal had been sweetened to cover the Xcel in St. Paul, and there was the big push from construction unions and quite a few big-time corporate leaders.

All that gave Dayton some leverage. He was the governor. And on our side we had some people who kind of wanted to hang out with the cool kids, so they went along with it, too.

MP: You’re in politics. You know the crazy places irrational thinking can take people. Did you ever have a conversation with colleagues about how the emotional attachment people have to football — and the specter of losing a football team — was driving this incredibly expensive deal? I mean, the thought of being held responsible for “losing the Vikings” seemed to terrify politicians.

Chamberlain: It is crazy. But no, nobody ever sat down and talked about it in that way. Maybe because we had people driving this thing from inside our leadership caucus.

I was assistant majority leader in the second half of this thing. I talked to [then Senate Majority Leader Dave] Senjem face to face. I talked to the governor face to face. And I learned the hard way that that doesn’t mean anything. In fact, it meant nothing.

There would be other meetings where we wouldn’t be invited. We would be told, “Well, we have this task force and this is the way this is going to go.”

I think [leadership] was determined not to change anything about the deal before they came to the Legislature. I think they waited until after caucus time to stick their necks out. Because at caucus time, people were really upset about it. They sure were on our side of the aisle, and Democrats were, too. So [leadership] waited until March, then they called it a “crisis” and something we had to get done.

But they would never set down with [those of] us [who opposed the deal] and discuss it. Leadership, the Vikings, Julie Rosen and the authors of the bill knew what they wanted when they came in. They were never interested in changing what they had.

And I’ll tell you something. Before the 2012 session, we did a whip count of our caucus on the issues we wanted to deal with, right? Dead last was the stadium. But we had someone on the leadership team who said, “Let’s not tell the members about this.”

Worse was that they didn’t have anyone on that task force representing the 70 percent of the people who opposed the deal. They tried to insult me by saying, “You know, Sen. Chamberlain, we had a task force and nobody said anything.” And I said, “Well that’s because you never asked any of the people who don’t want to pay for it. Apparently you missed them.”

gydesen
MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Chamberlain: “They saw a target. They’re smart, they’re tough, they’re savvy and they found some saps up here who could be rolled and they rolled them.”

But you have to give the Vikings credit. They locked up every print media and every broadcast media in town. Even our conservative stations didn’t do much with it, because the Vikings were running ads. They had people locked up.

MP: Let me ask you this: As a Republican with, I’m assuming, a pro-business affinity, don’t you have at least a kind of grudging admiration for what the Wilfs pulled off here? I mean, out of almost a billion dollars, they’ll put in somewhere around $20 million to $30 million of their own money and accrue an equity bonanza. That’s pretty sweet.

Chamberlain:  Well, that’s a great question. But I’ll add one caveat. Am I pro-business? Yes, but I’m more pro-doing what’s right. Am I always on the side of the Chamber [of Commerce]? Heck no. The Chamber comes in sometimes and says, “We need you to vote this way”, and we will say, collectively, “No. It’s a bad vote. It’s a bad bill. It’s a bad thing.” The Business Partnership, the same thing.

And those two organizations are complicit in this whole stadium debacle. So, as for me, if they have something good that comes up, I’ll support it. But in this thing, you see them representing their interests.

As for the Wilfs and a grudging admiration? I do. I really do. They saw a target. They’re smart, they’re tough, they’re savvy and they found some saps up here who could be rolled and they rolled them.

The Wilfs were a very tight operation. As I said, they had the media locked up and they had leadership locked up. They got leadership elected, I have no doubt. Senjem was elected for gaming, and once he’s in that spot, they have a clear run. After that, they set it up and got the bill done the old-fashioned way. They made promises to the Democrats for the Xcel and hoped Republicans [like Senjem in Rochester] would go for it for civic centers and whatever else.

They did it right. They did it tough. They played the L.A. card. They had a few hundred Vikings fans down [at the Capitol] and created this aura of a huge populist uprising if they didn’t get a stadium.

 So was it brilliant and crafty? Absolutely. But it’s always easier when you first get leadership on board ignoring those of us who represented the 70 percent opposed to it.

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Comments (28)

  1. Submitted by Leonard Foonimin on 10/25/2013 - 09:36 am.

    An excellent account

    of a black chapter in state history. The Wilfs are like the pirate Blackbeard, excellent at villainy yet still villains.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/25/2013 - 10:34 am.

    Reconstruction

    How about we take the whole thing down to the studs and throw it in the dumpster? This thing was a bad idea from the word go and should not be built on the backs of the public. Citizens should not be in the business of subsidizing billionaires. Full stop!

    If the stadium is such a great investment, then let Wilf fully fund it himself and capture all the revenue from it. Other than a few roads and sewer lines there should be zero public investment in this project.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/25/2013 - 10:54 am.

    Sentences

    “It’s an arrangement that obligates Minnesota (and Minneapolis) taxpayers to a $498 million “contribution,” as the principals like to describe it, and allows the team owners, the Wilf family of New Jersey, to use a loan from the NFL and revenue from the stadium itself to cover more than 90 percent of their … “contribution.””

    I have seen versions of this sentence a lot and always wondered about it. First off, the Vikings got a loan to pay for a capital expenditure. This is a fairly common practice. Many people get loans to buy their house, and no one seems unduly shocked. Does the fact that the loan comes from the NFL make a difference? Depends on the details of the loan, r. eally’ it is possible that the terms are favorable to the Wilfs such that it constitutes a subsidy in part. But what of it If there is a subsidy, it may very well have reduced the Wilfs asking price for what they have to sell, Vikings football. In any event, what matters to the public is the asking price itself, not how the Wilfs arrived at the figure. As for the matter of the revenues paying for the stadium, where else would the money come from? The tooth fairy? Again using revenues to pay the capital costs of a business was hardly a practice invented by the Vikings. In effect the complaint seems to be that the down payment is too low. But any down payment here is nothing more than revenue generated from some other business of the Wilfs. The purpose of a down payment is to secure a loan, and this loan seems secure.

    We paid nearly a half billion dollars to keep the Vikings here. Is this a good deal or a bad deal? Hard to say, but one place to start is to ask the question that never seems to be asked: How much in out of pockets are you personally paying as your share of that half billion dollar check we wrote to the Wilfs? Is watching the Vikings on TV 16 days a year worth that to you?

    • Submitted by Jim Camery on 10/25/2013 - 12:07 pm.

      Because it’s not really a ‘loan,’ it’s in lieu of

      The word ‘loan’ is wrong — The NFL supplies the cash and the payments that the Wilfs (and McCombs) have been making toward the NFL stadium fund are redirected back to the stadium. The Wilfs will be making payments, but they would have been paying the same in an NFL fee anyway. And yes, this has been spelled out many, many times, but somehow the local journos go with ‘unknown’ rather read the very long and complicated agreement.

      I think it’s fair to say, though, that it’s not the citizens’ business if the non-public part comes from the Wilfs or NFL or TV or whatever.

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 10/25/2013 - 01:23 pm.

      Hiram: Out of pocket,

      I am estimating that as Minneapolis residents my family will pay about $10,000 for the “official” state/city shares. More broadly, we are at risk of paying much, much more if our property value and the city’s quality of life plummet as a result of the financial millstone that has been hung around our necks & the permanent occupation of prime economic/civic space by this behemoth & its surrounding empty spaces. There is nothing in the tacit consent of residents to municipal governance that encompasses this level of risk assumption for this sort of enterprise with these sorts of partners.

      I do not watch the Vikings any days per year and believe that professional football is destructive to civic life. I recognize that my view is extreme & that most view it at worst as simple entertainment. However I always found it most noteworthy that in the several years in which the Vikings and the Sports Authority pushed for the deal, there was never a single poll to say what percentage of Minnesotans attended Vikings games, or watched them on TV, or cared at all if the Vikings stayed or left. Had the results of such a poll been favorable to the Vikings, they would have been paraded unceasingly. The dog that didn’t bark, if you will. So to answer your question, I would guess that many more folks than might be expected wouldn’t even get to your question about how much it is worth to watch the VIkings on TV.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/26/2013 - 07:07 am.

        Too much

        “I am estimating that as Minneapolis residents my family will pay about $10,000 for the “official” state/city shares.”

        If that’s the case, I would say that’s way too much. Probably enough to serve as an incentive to move out of the city. My own view is that if taxpayers are to be asked to pay for the stadium, the burden should have been imposed state wide, not on the residents of Minneapolis, who get little more in benefit from a stadium than residents of Duluth or Lake of the Woods for that matter.

        • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/26/2013 - 02:09 pm.

          “if taxpayers are to be asked to pay for the stadium”

          That’s the essential corruption here – we WEREN’T asked. In fact, despite the citizens of Mpls attempt to make sure they WERE asked, a charter amendment demanded a plebiscite on projects of this kind over a certain dollar amount.

          It was the venal and weak-minded elected representatives, in their certainty that the people would vote this monstrosity down, who bent themselves and the law out of shape to avoid that plebiscite like the plague.

          We haven’t been asked. They have shoved it down our throats and handed us the bill.

          These elected representatives are absolutely NO BETTER in their ethics and value system than the Wilfs themselves. That includes the Governor, the leaders in the Senate and the House who rammed it through the Legislature.

          A special mention has to be made, in case you’ve forgotten their names, of the City Council members who had a chance to stop this betrayal regardless of the powers of the Legislature, and failed their constituents miserably in confusion, venality, and weak-mindedness, putting us in business with fraudsters.

          Here is your roster of those people, who are by their actions, proponents of handouts to billionaires, doing business with fraudsters, and betrayal of the voters:

          Don Samuels
          Barbara Johnson
          Sandy Colvin Roy
          Diane Hofstede
          John Quincy
          Kevin Reich
          Meg Tuthill

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/25/2013 - 11:01 am.

    “I mean, out of almost a billion dollars, they’ll put in somewhere around $20 million to $30 million of their own money and accrue an equity bonanza. That’s pretty sweet.”

    To understand the return, you have to look at the money the Wilfs have invested in the team, and the profits they have generated. One fact to keep in mind is that the initial price the Wilfs payed for the team included a stadium premium, that is, it was based in part on the assumption that the Wilfs would get the revenue stream from a new stadium. When thinking about the return, that’s the way you have to look at it, not more narrowly by looking at the increase in franchise value caused by the new stadium.

    I really have no idea how those figures play out. But without understanding those numbers and the various ways of looking at them, complaining about the stadium in terms of the value received by the Wilfs is just so much hot air and and extremely after the fact political grandstanding.

  5. Submitted by Barbara Gilbertson on 10/25/2013 - 11:27 am.

    Big, ugly boondoggle

    We’ve been scammed. All taxpayers and also season ticketholders. I am a charter season-ticket holder. Something is rotten in the state of Minnesota. My long and ardent love affair with the Vikings is over. Done. Kaput. Finis. And that would be true even if we had a real team on the field. Which…oh, you know.

  6. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 10/25/2013 - 11:33 am.

    Whine line

    This article sounds like KFAN after Monday’s game. Chamberlain is a leader of the GOP; his team was on board too. And now he is ripping his team on both sides of the Capitol.

    Who cares where the Wilf’s get their share? Sounds like they are getting their share from their customers and from the NFL, a corporation of which they own 1/32 share. What is the problem there.

    The San Francisco 49’ers are, in fact, moving down the road to Santa Clara. 52 miles. This City is borrowing over $800 million and supporting their share with a couple of taxes. The city does get the naming rights revenue of $220 million over 20 years. Seems like the Oakland team is going to play there too.

    The metrodome is a dump. It was from the beginning and only got worse as time went on. No one will be sorry when it is gone. It was an embarrassment to bring friends from other states to the dome for any event. The funnest part of the dome was exiting through the air doors!

    Very few people are complaining now that Target Field is here, except for the quality of the team. Mr. Chamberlain was probably against that too!

    It seems inevitable that we will soon be paying $150 million so about a dozen folks in Minneapolis won’t have to look at light rail cars zooming through their backyards. The stadium looks like a bargain compared to that!!

    I look at the stadium as a civic asset that we are getting a private partner to pay half of the construction costs. Maybe that is a glass half-full assessment, but it beats whining about old milk!

    • Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 10/25/2013 - 12:55 pm.

      I disagree

      I don’t think we are actually getting a private partner to pay half the construction costs. What we are getting is a private partner who for a minimal contribution will receive an increase in the value of an asset solely owned by the private partner. My understanding is that with access to a new stadium, the value of the Vikings increases by many millions of dollars. So for tossing in a few million or perhaps even as much as 20 or 30 million the return for the Wilfs is tremendous. While making a profit is a good thing, why should we the public make it happen? The claim that this is an equal partnership is crap and we should all recognize that we have been sold ocean front property in Utah.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/25/2013 - 03:18 pm.

        The key contribution of the Wilfs was in corruption of…

        …state and local politics by their POLITICAL contributions.

        A few millions spent influencing the venal or weak-minded pays FANTASTIC dividends here in Minnesota.

        Calculate the ROI on the 4 or 5 million the Vikings spent & you’ll see you can’t get this kind of return ANYWHERE except in political influence.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/25/2013 - 01:13 pm.

      Stadium

      With half a dozen stadiums in the Twin Cities, I think we have enough “civic assets” already.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/25/2013 - 02:38 pm.

        Excess capacity

        We do have a lot of stadiums in the Twin Cities, and they cannibalize each other’s business. That can be a problem too. It would make sense for them to work together in attracting concerts, for example, but that would probably be an anti trust violation. Adding the Vikings Stadium makes that situation worse.

        We do have stadiums, but what we didn’t have was an NFL style stadium which is basically a machine for printing money attached to a TV studio. No other stadium here serves those combined purposes sufficiently for an NFL team. It would have made sense to build the NFL stadium first and let the Gophers play in it, but the Gopher Stadium isn’t suitable for the NFL’s purposes. It might not be a bad idea to move the Gophers to the Vikings Stadium, and tear down the Gopher Stadium and use the land for something else. For one thing, that would help relieve the cannibalization problem.

  7. Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 10/25/2013 - 11:40 am.

    The stadium is a bad deal

    This interview is spot on. I am still pissed at the DFL legislators that rushed to make this happen. Promises of revenue from pull-tabs has not happened. Some estimates say the Wilf family will only truly invest a few million dollars of their own money. The “loan” from the NFL will never be repaid, just forgiven at some point.

    Frankly, the hype about moving the Vikings is crap. Moving a professional team with over 60 years of history to a new part of the country is a stupid business model. Sure, the first few years in the new city will be good, but when times get tough and the team starts to flounder, will the “new” fans still support the team and fill the stadium? Likely not.

    Of course, it might take a few cities to call the NFL bluff on moving teams and a few teams might move, but in the long run, moving teams is a losing proposition for the NFL I suspect. However, I get that no politician wants to be the one that lost a football team because they did not build a stadium.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/25/2013 - 02:49 pm.

    Moving the Vikings

    “Frankly, the hype about moving the Vikings is crap. Moving a professional team with over 60 years of history to a new part of the country is a stupid business model.”

    The suggestion, rarely made by the Vikings themselves, that they would move elsewhere could have been a bluff. But for myself, I never thought so. Teams with a lot of tradition, a lot of ties to the community, have moved elsewhere without a qualm. The Colts to Indianapolis, the Browns to Baltimore,the Oilers to Tennessee. The fans think in terms of tradition, and history, but the owners particularly new owners do not. One move that was particularly instructive was the move of the Rams from LA to St. Louis. That move showed both that history and links to the community meant little, but so did market size and media importance.

    It’s important to understand that unlike baseball, an NFL franchise can be supported by a small community, Green Bay being the prime example. That means the pool of teams that can vie for an NFL franchise is larger. A number of NFL cities don’t have baseball teams, because they don’t have the corporate support needed to buy a baseball team’s much larger inventory of tickets. But an NFL team has only 8 tickets to sell, a much more manageable package both for corporations and the average fan.

  9. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 10/25/2013 - 02:59 pm.

    Three points

    1.) The NFL loan will largely be repaid out game-day revenues. The visiting team in a NFL game gets a cut of the gate. Under NFL rules, teams receiving loans can repay them using the incremental difference in ticket prices. So, if ticket prices in the new stadium are 15% higher, 15% of the visiting team’s cut can be applied to repaying the loan. The Wilfs are also allowed under NFL rules to apply some of their PSL money towards the loan (instead of the league-wide revenue sharing pool).

    2.) The notion that all it’s going to take is a couple of cities saying no is naive. How did that work in Baltimore? Cleveland? St. Louis? Houston? Every city that has lost a NFL team in the last couple of decades (with the lone exception so far being L.A.) has ended up spending even more to bring the NFL back than they would have to keep the team in the first place. This is a scenario that has also played out in this market, with the NHL. Any “victory” achieved on this front would likely be illusory and temporary.

    3.) Ultimately, the funding mechanism to build the stadium relies insufficiently on the team and its customers. There’s no reason that user fees couldn’t have supplanted or at least supplemented the phantom e-pulltabs revenue instead of tapping other general fund sources.

  10. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 10/26/2013 - 09:53 am.

    New Vikings Stadium

    If they hadn’t have caved in an put it downtown where you will never attract large businesses, they wouldn’t be crying. They have nobody to blame but themselves. They should have purchased the old arsenal. The city of Green Bay got Cabela’s to pay 150 million dollars to lease land from the city so they could build next to lambeau Field. Now Wal Mart wants to build there and is going to pay the same price. The city is asking 200 million dollars for the naming rights and 100 million per gate. Minnesota could have done it here, but it had to go downtown Mpls, where businesses who will pay won’t build.

  11. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 10/26/2013 - 12:37 pm.

    “WE” were rolled by the Vikings?

    Hardly. As a state, we fell over ourselves to roll for the Vikings.
    That’s “roll” as in “Bankroll.” A billion dollars for an event that most people can’t afford to attend!

  12. Submitted by Dan Peters on 10/26/2013 - 11:10 pm.

    Remember who robbed you to pay for this when you vote!

    Gov. Dayton is a politician with whom I most often agree, but I will never, ever vote for him again as a result of this stadium ‘deal’.

    Ditto Mayor RT Rybeck. I know he’s not running for mayor again, but I’m sure his weaselly mug will pop up on a campaign ad again before long.

    We’re going to get hosed on this stadium deal–all we can do now is hold the scoundrels that caused this accountable when we’re in the voting booth.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/27/2013 - 05:29 pm.

      Excellent advice !!

      I voted for Gov. Dayton for years every single time I saw his name on a ballot, but like you, NEVER AGAIN, and for the same reason !

      When Rybak seeks gratification in further public office, we can all remember him for this fraud on the voters, whom he sought to disenfranchise.

      The state legislators who voted for this might seem at first to be the worst of the lot as they betrayed the taxpayers.

      But the worst of the worst are those Minneapolis City Council people named in a post above, the 7 whose votes put the Wilfs at the public trough. They failed so miserably in their public duties, they should routinely be turned away by the voters when they seek public office – ANY public office.

      Note the names of those 7 City Council members – the only way to make sure they do no more harm to the voters is to turn them out of office, and keep them out !!

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/27/2013 - 05:59 am.

    If they hadn’t have caved in an put it downtown where you will never attract large businesses, they wouldn’t be crying.

    I thought they should have put it in Moorehead and let Rep. Lanning’s constituents pay for it. One of the things that most aggravated me about the Vikings Stadium was that it was inflicted on the people of Minneapolis, who while receiving no special benefit from it, were forced to pay for it by out state legislators.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2013 - 06:29 am.

    Vikings game

    Was this what we paid a half billion dollars for?

  15. Submitted by mark wallek on 10/28/2013 - 11:10 am.

    Lying comes naturally

    I remember that the pols were all flapping lips about how the taxpaying citizen was NOT going to be liable for the rich ownerships cathedral. Yet here we are, working hard to make ends meet and have a little something left for a staycation, and the taxpayers are eating a 498 million bill. After working hard to get an extra $1000 together to save my oak trees and keep up my northside residence in the face of continuous betrayal to absentee landlords sucking my neighborhood dry, I feel our city and state “leadership” knows nothing but betrayal. I’d like them to foot that 498 million themselves.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/28/2013 - 12:49 pm.

    Shovels

    The point of much of the financing of the stadium as proposed by the legislature wasn’t actually to fund the stadium. It was to provide some sort of rationalization to the legislature that a funding structure was in place. The drive was to get the whole thing to the point where stadium supporters could say, as Lori Sturdevant said in basically so many words yesterday in the Strib, that it’s too late to turn back. It hasn’t been easy. The stadium financing as envisioned unraveled faster than supporters hoped. We finally found out something about how the Wilfs did business, not though the hard work of an intrepid investigating news media searching for the truth but through the agency of a New Jersey judge.

    .

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/28/2013 - 02:03 pm.

    when the worse thing that can happen is…

    a football franchise moving away, you should always put your public dollars elsewhere.

  18. Submitted by Bob Shepard on 10/29/2013 - 12:52 pm.

    Can we call it Racketeer Field at RICO Stadium?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/10/how-the-nfl-fleeces-taxpayers/309448/

  19. Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/29/2013 - 03:19 pm.

    Thanks Brian

    At least someone still is covering this gigantic public debacle.

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