After several failed proposals and years of threats to relocate, it looks like the Vikings will be staying in Minnesota. The state Senate today passed a bill that would make way for a $975 million stadium, with the Vikings owners kicking in $50 million—a whole $50 million!—more than they had been saying they could. Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to approve the measure, which would keep the team in Minneapolis for the next 30 years, by which point pro football will have been sued into oblivion and Ultimate Frisbee will be our national pastime.
I’m a HUGE VIkings fan. They’re playing up in Seattle this season, and you can bet that Erin and I will have tickets. I grew up worshiping the Vikings, and, like most Minnesotans, I’ve suffered through four trips to the Super Bowl and four disappointing defeats. So you’d think I’d be happy about the Vikings getting a new stadium deal instead of packing up and heading to Los Angeles, right?
Au contraire, mon ami….
In an era of austerity, when budgets are being cut, when schools are losing teachers and programs to lack of funds, and when it’s become about what we CAN’T do, how is it that we can spend millions of tax dollars on a stadium for a football team? How can this sort of profligate spending be justified when the Vikings already have a perfectly serviceable stadium in the Metrodome…and when, two miles away, the University of Minnesota has a two-year old state of the art outdoor stadium?
What I find so objectionable is that the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota are paying roughly 2/3 of the freight for a privately owned business:
The state will put in $348 million, either from electronic pulltab gambling proceeds or from stadium user fees if that’s not enough.
The city of Minneapolis will put in $150 million in cash plus $189 million over 30 years for operating costs, a total that (counting the cost of borrowing the money, since the taxes to pay for it will be tied up paying off the convention center for the next few years) should come to around $375-525 million in present value.
The Vikings will put in $477 million, plus $327 million over 30 years for operating expenses. The team will get 100% revenue from NFL events, while the city and state will get money from the occasional monster truck rally.
How is it that Minnesota taxpayers are being tasked with subsidizing the bottom line of a private business when schools lay off teachers every year, roads and bridges go unrepaired (the I-35 bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis is just a couple miles from the Metrodome), and so many go hungry and want for health care? Politicians and Vikings management will no doubt extol the benefits to the local economy that will allegedly accrue to the Twin Cities from the new stadium, but will any benefit realized justify the millions of tax dollars being expended to subsidize an NFL franchise? Or is it just that politicians fear the wrath of voters if they were to draw a line of fiscal responsibility in the sand and risk the Vikings leaving for SoCal?
Remember; it’s only socialism when wealth is redistributed to the proletariat. When wealth is redistributed to the wealthy and powerful, it’s called an “investment.”