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Rybak continues stadium blitz as council votes Thursday and Friday

With the Minneapolis City Council poised to vote, the mayor is trying to assure he’s still got the seven votes needed for passage.

With the Minneapolis City Council poised to vote this week on the city subsidy for the Vikings stadium, Mayor R.T. Rybak continues to ask for public pressure to assure he’s still got the seven votes needed for passage.

A council committee, of all 13 members, will vote Thursday, with a final vote of the full council on Friday.

The Minneapolis imprimatur is one of the final hurdles for the the $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis, on the Metrodome site, and Rybak says that even though he doesn’t like the economics of professional sports arenas, that’s the way life is in the big city, and Minneapolis has to deal with it.

Opponents — and there have been six on the 13-member council — don’t like that the Legislature overrode the city charter requirement for a vote on stadium spending, and that while the Legislature lightened the state’s subsidy load by requiring an additional $50 million from the Vikings, the city’s still stuck with its $150 million up front share of construction costs.

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With interest, the city’s contribution could be $600 million, opponents say, and that’s money coming from the city for a state-wide asset.

But in a message to residents today, Rybak argues that the stadium deal has gotten better for the city:

Now I don’t like the economics of professional sports; no one does. But we got involved because if we hadn’t tried to solve this long-standing problem, it would have gotten solved without us. That’s why we were at the table — to make sure Minneapolis got a good deal. And we got an even better one.

How is that? He counts the ways:

  • For our 21% share, we will get a new, publicly-owned, $1-billion investment downtown that will create 11,000 construction-related jobs and 3,400 permanent jobs, and support thousands more hospitality jobs. And it will be open for public use for 355 days a year.
  • Think about it: a private business is paying the majority of the cost for new public facility that they will use only 10 days a year for the next 30 years.
  • And we’re getting this major new investment for no new taxes. Only existing sales and user fees — which are already paid by everyone who visits, lives or works in Minneapolis — are being used for our share of the Vikings stadium. No new taxes. None.
  • We will get a share of the profit, called “clawback,” if the Vikings are sold within the next 20 years — a deal that is potentially worth between $15–110 million to Minneapolis taxpayers. At first, only the State would have benefited from the clawback — but we fought for Minneapolis to get our share, too. And we won.
  • For the first time ever, we will control existing, State-imposed hospitality taxes that are paid by everyone who spends a dollar in Minneapolis, whether they’re visitors, residents or just work here during the day.
  • In the past, Minneapolis never had practical control over these taxes: the State collected them here and dictated how they could be spent.
  • Now, however, Minneapolis will control these hospitality taxes, providing us with billions over the next 30 years not just for the stadium, but to meet our top priorities: renovating the Target Center and making sure the Convention Center will keep drawing visitors (and their money) to Minneapolis for the next generation.
  • It helps us meet our other top priority, too: slowing the growth of property taxes. That’s because we can now use these widely-paid hospitality taxes, instead of property taxes, to fund Target Center.
  • We fought for years to control these taxes, with no luck until now. This is a historically significant change with positive, long-range implications for Minneapolis.
  • Also for the first time ever, Vikings games will be subject to a ticket tax. Twins and Timberwolves fans already pay this fee, so it levels the playing field for them. And it will generate at least $1.5 million a year directly to Minneapolis that will support core services like public safety and offset property taxes.

Rybak urged supporters to call their council members. Those against the deal likely will be doing that, too.

Two Cities blog, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul City Halls, is made possible in part by grants from The Saint Paul Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation.