The Vikings Stadium Bill Could Hurt the United Way

The Greater Twin Cities United Way is under stress these days. With high & extended unemployment and underemployment in the Twin Cities, United Way offices have been working hard to make sure our fellow Twin Cities residents have some food on the table and a roof over their head. As the United Way explains it:

Food shelves used to provide emergency support for those in need. But as the economic downturn has continued, food shelves have become a regular source of food for hungry families, children and senior citizens. As food needs increase, hunger relief programs are struggling to meet the demand.

With that said, how could it possibly be a good idea to build a racino to fund a new Vikings stadium? Surely, that would increase the number of people in the Twin Cities suffering from gambling addictions. Jobs would be lost. Families not fed. Houses forfeited back to the banks.

And, for what gain? To help raise $300 million to pay for a stadium for Zygi Wilf’s private sports entertainment company, the Minnesota Vikings. To me, this sounds like a transfer of wealth from people suffering from an addiction to one of Minnesota’s largest corporate welfare queens, Zygi Wilf.

I decided to ask the United Way about this on Facebook:

I’m curious to find out if the United Way has a position on the proposed racino to fund a Vikings stadium. It seems like a racino would lead to gambling addiction, broken families, and more stress on the Twin Cities United Way.

Greater Twin Cities United Way kindly responded:

Thanks for asking, Ed. Greater Twin Cities United Way has no official stand on this piece of legislation.

They didn’t explain their reasoning behind not having a position. I don’t know if it’s a case avoiding political issues in general, not seeing a big enough impact on their clients to bother, or seeing more upside from Vikings related donations (financial, player appearances, etc) than a downside from dealing with more broken homes.

I would hope the United Way understands that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

18 thoughts on “The Vikings Stadium Bill Could Hurt the United Way”

  1. If it hurts families, it’s gotta hurt pets worse. The Humane Society should be alerted about the new Viking stadium/racino proposal and its possible affect on puppies and kittens.

  2. Not only pupies and kittens…………..our lakes and rivers fish population.
    What are football/vikings fans gonna do when they Vikes move away? they are gonna fish. this may be the catalyst for extinction of walleye, northerns and crappie. Do you want that on your hands? I think not….go to savethevikes.org to
    easily contact your legislaters to keep the Vikes in MN and save our fish.

  3. “our lakes and rivers fish population”

    Actually Joe has a point–
    http://ricecreek.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={982A78A7-C308-496B-9F42-F1392F1572A8}

    For those of you keeping score at home, the Rice Creek Watershed District happens to include the Arden Hills site and most of the best fishing to be had in the east Metro.

    Oh, and Rice Creek provides most of the drinking water to St Paul.

    It would be a bummer if their drinking water (including the drinking water at the State Capitol, and of course the Viking Stadium) was contaminated, wouldn’t it?

    But I’m sure keeping the team in MN would be worth it, right?

  4. Oh, I should add this to make it easier for people to put 1+1=2, Vikes+SuperfundSite=Polluted Water–

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Cities_Army_Ammunition_Plant

    “The site was added to the National Priorities List as a Superfund site on September 8, 1983.[2] The soil, sediments, groundwater, and surface water surrounding the plant were contaminated with base neutral acids, metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, cyanide, and explosives.”

    So…how much will construction here cost again?

  5. I don’t have much to back it up, but I’m of the contention that since a casino is merely four walls and a lot of flashing lights, if people are suffering from any “harmful effects” it’s mostly from what they decide to do in there, and not the building itself. It’s the old argument behind what become known in the city as “problem houses” The houses aren’t the problem, it’s the people who live in them.

    And though my interest in a Vikings stadium is not nearly much as the what has become Target Field, I have to admire the efforts of savethevikes.org and their fight to save the team they love. I don’t recall an comparable outfit for the Twins. For them, it’s probably not about the owner or the players or some principle (for lack of a better word), but a team that’s been a part of their lives.

  6. @Rat, I have a hard time respecting an organization that so blatantly lies about their reliance on corporate welfare for their entertainment wants. Asking the state to create an entirely new revenue source in the form of a casino so the state can turn over the money to Ziggy Wilf is ridiculous. And, pretending that the state NEEDS a NFL quality stadium for indoor running, inline skating, and baseball practices is absurd.

    Perhaps we disagree on whether the state should play a roll in protecting people from vices. Do you think the upside of a casino outweighs the social costs? Having spent time in Las Vegas and downtown Detroit, I have my doubts.

  7. One of the more nuanced downsides to the Vikings leaving is that the cadre of community leaders in this city who are supposed to see to it that things like that don’t happen would come out looking like The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight. You know who they are. The 100 people who run affairs in the (small town) city and talk to each other every day on the telephone. A major Fail like that would not auger well for Minneapolis. And it manifests itself in ways we do not yet know and I hope we never do.

    The plan should have been in place, and the votes lined up long ago.

    Call it welfare, call it a ham sandwich, I don’t care. You don’t let a pro football team walk out the door and go somewhere else without some consequences.

  8. @Rat, I’m not familiar with the coalition you describe. Could you be more specific?

    I’d like to think that our elected officials could come to us and day that the Vikings were asking for a handout at a time when we’re already strapped trying to fill potholes, repair exploding highways,and educate our children. a politicianwity somewhat decent communication skills should be able to explain that it is not in the best interest of taxpayers to provide corporate welfare for entertainment.

  9. savethevikes.org

    we can sit here and debate back and forth until the moving trucks back up to winter park.

    corporate welfare or not we need to keep the vikings in minnesota. at the metrodump or in arden hills.
    all the blowhards saying let them go will be the first ones crying the blues about their artsy fartsy funding being cut when the state loses the revunue from the vikings.
    the morons in st paul keep yacking about “creating job”. put 13,000 construction workers to work building the new stadium and whatever other developments come up around the arden hills site.
    lets clean up the largest superfund site in mn and develop this property.

    savethevikes.org

  10. Like Rat said above, I guess I can admire the passion of the savethevikes.org folks, but it seems too passionate so that it has overcome their better sense and judgment.

    They have only one real argument that they come back to ‘we need to keep the vikings in Minnesota’…not realizing this is not a given, and it should not be done at all costs, nor born by average citizens who derive no value from ‘keeping the vikings in Minnesota’.

    If the savethevikes.org cannot conceive of a MN without Vikings, then they had better start private fundraising, like–
    –bake sales are always good,
    –book sales are big with grade schools,
    –frozen pizzas are hot with the local sports teams,
    –auctions are a favorite of that artsy crowd.
    With the SOV.org passion, I can only imagine these sales will soar statewide for this effort.

    Public funding and general taxes need to provide for public infrastructure, not pro sports entertainment.

  11. @Joe, you seem to be suggesting that there is a net positive revenue impact from having the Vikings in town. If that was truly the case, wouldn’t that be the argument the Vikings would make to justify investing in their business? Furthermore, if there was a net positive return on the investment, wouldn’t private investors be lining up to get a piece of that action? Clearly, this is a money loser. How much? The Vikings and savethevikes.org don’t have the maturity to say. Do you?

  12. @The Other Mike, if the SaveTheVikes.org negotiating tactics are:

    1. Please stay.
    2. Pretty please.
    3. We’ll give you whatever you want.
    4. Heck, we’ll even build a brand new casino and give you the profits. Seriously, whatever it takes to help you make money off of us, we’ll do it.

    There is a good chance that we’ll be on the losing end of the deal.

    Being able to say “No, this is a bad deal” is a sign of maturity that the SaveTheVikes.org corporate welfare crowd shows no sign of possessing.

  13. “is a sign of maturity that the SaveTheVikes.org corporate welfare crowd shows no sign of possessing.”

    I don’t know that that’s true, but for the sake of argument, let’s say that’s the case. So, what?

    It was the case with me for the Twins. I’ll admit it, they’re my team. I wanted whatever it took to keep them here. It was entirely personal. Call it immature if you want.

    I read something on twitter where you said “I’m Pro Vikings” Are you, really? I read the same thing in the runup to the Twins Stadium deal. “I love the Twins” but…But, I’d watch them leave before I parted with 3 cents on a $20 bar tab.

    That always rang kinda hollow to me.

    Public/Private partnerships, Ed. They happen all the time. Next time you ride Amtrak, remember that. I know it’s not entertainment, but the government is financing non-essential transportation.

  14. @Rat, I’ll call spending “whatever it took” of other people’s money to support your own entertainment immature, fiscal irresponsibility, and corporate welfare. Three cents on a $20 bar tab isn’t much money. The debate is whether it’s justifiable to have that money go to support a private company that’s in the business of sports entertainment. Surely, if we are going to increase revenues, we could think of something that would create more, better paying, longer term jobs than building a stadium to replace a stadium.

    I really don’t understand why it’s difficult to understand that I can be both pro-Vikings and anti-government welfare for Ziggy Wilf. For entertainment tonight, I went to an event at the Aster Cafe then had dinner at The Craftsman. I like both places. You could even say that I’m a fan. But that doesn’t mean that I think the state should open a casino and give th profits to either of those operations to run their business or for capital improvements.

    Public/private partnerships can be great. Helping a business get off the ground makes sense. That is NOT the case with the Vikings. Or, if it is, it certainly hasn’t been demonstrated to be the case by the Save the Vikings welfare lobbyists.

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