The always worrisome mix of professional sports and public financing has hit a major snag in the Minnesota Legislature. A Vikings stadium bill has stalled in both the House and Senate, with Democrats and Republicans questioning whether a football stadium is a defensible use of tax dollars, especially given the wealthy status of Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf and the state's budget problems.
It appears the stadium issue is dead for the year. A general election will take place this fall before lawmakers again address the issue in 2013. We're sure candidates will be answering questions about the stadium, given public dislike for the idea.
On the flip side of the issue is the reality that the Vikings may choose to talk to suitors in other cities, such as Los Angeles, which is without an NFL?franchise. The Vikings say their current home - the Metrodome - cannot compete with other NFL stadiums in terms of profitability. The Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires this year.
To show their commitment to Minnesota, the Vikings are willing to pay $427 million for a new stadium. Under the plan stalled in the Legislature, the state would put up $398 million, through taxes on expanded gambling, while the city of Minneapolis would chip in $150 million. This is a good deal for the state, but it's not clear if it's good enough to convince lawmakers and their constituents.
We believe that given the way stadiums have been built over the past several decades, it is not possible for a city (or state) to hang onto a professional team without participating in stadium financing.?If one's view is that a pro team (and stadium construction) boosts the economy, then the Vikings stadium plan is not unreasonable.