How Do Cities Say No to #Vikings Stadium Proposals?

Ramsey County Commissioner, and #1 Vikings Stadium Welfare supporter at the county level, Tony Bennett, was busy this summer spamming cities with information on the Arden Hills stadium proposal. In addition to a stadium in Arden Hills, he was pitching a plan for a convention center in Arden Hills that would compete with the Minneapolis convention center and the St Paul convention center (in his own county!). Few county commissioners have the gall to ask for hundreds of millions of dollars of their own county’s money to pillage business from one part of the county to another. Commissioner Bennett is a purple tainted exception to that rule.

While pimping his purple plan, he included a “Draft Resolution For City Councils Supporting Vikings Stadium” so cities he solicited wouldn’t have to think for themselves. It’s a smart way to lower the bar for cities, thus making it easier for them to support you. Here is the draft he sent out:

DRAFT RESOLUTION FOR CITY COUNCILS SUPPORTING VIKINGS STADIUM

Supporting construction of a Vikings Stadium and related development in Arden Hills.

WHEREAS, the ________________ City Council recognizes the social and economic value of
the Minnesota Vikings Football Team to the State of Minnesota; and,

WHEREAS, to preserve the Minnesota Vikings as a valuable State amenity, the
________________ City Council understands the desire to find a solution to the Vikings’ stated
interest in developing a new stadium; and,

WHEREAS, a proposal has been put forth by the Minnesota Vikings and the Ramsey County
Board of Commissioners to construct a new stadium in Arden Hills on the site of the former Twin
Cities Army Ammunitions Plant (TCAAP); and,

WHEREAS, stadium construction will provide 7,500 construction jobs and the project will
support a total of 13,000 full and part-time jobs; and

WHEREAS, private development of nearby properties, both on the TCAAP site and across the
northern suburbs, will generate new jobs and ongoing positive economic impacts for the region;
and,

WHEREAS, much needed transportation infrastructure improvements will be part of the project;
and,

WHEREAS, the public is protected by the agreement between Ramsey County and the Vikings,
including provisions that the Vikings cover all cost overruns on stadium construction and will pay
for all municipal services including police, traffic, fire, and trash removal; and,

WHEREAS, even with the proposed 0.5% sales tax increase, purchases like a hamburger and
cup of coffee would still be less expensive in St. Paul (8.125% with proposed 0.5% tax) and
suburban Ramsey County (7.625% with proposed 0.5% tax) than in Minneapolis (10.775% with
current food and beverage tax).

WHEREAS, a study shows the stadium project will lead to $145 million in direct annual
spending by fans, the Vikings, the team’s employees and players, visiting teams and the NFL;
and,

WHEREAS, the redevelopment of the TCAAP site has been an important priority for northern
metro communities for decades;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the ____________ City Council supports the work
of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners to build a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ______________ City Council encourages the
Governor, the Legislature, and other interested parties to support this project

That’s a pretty decent WHEREAS’d statement, eh?

The problem here is that many of the cities Commissioner Tony Bennett sent this to do NOT support the stadium plan he’s pimping. So, what do cities do when given a draft resolution proposal that they DON’T agree with? They rework it.

Here is what St. Paul did with it:

The Saint Paul City Council voted 7-0 on July 6, 2011 to oppose the imposition of a 1/2 cent sales tax for construction of a Vikings Stadium in Arden Hills. The text of the resolution is below:

WHEREAS, the Saint Paul City Council recognizes the social and economic value of the Minnesota Vikings Football Team to the State of Minnesota; and,

WHEREAS, to preserve the Minnesota Vikings as a valuable State amenity, the Saint Paul City Council understands the desire to find a solution to the Vikings’ stated interest in developing a new stadium; and,

WHEREAS, a proposal has been put forth by the Minnesota Vikings and the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners to construct a new stadium in Arden Hills on the site of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant (TCAAP); and,

WHEREAS, to finance the construction of this facility, the Ramsey County Board has proposed the imposition of a ½ cent sales tax collected in Ramsey County in an amount sufficient to generate $350 million; and,

WHEREAS, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, of the County’s 12,000 taxable businesses, 52% are in the City of Saint Paul and 47% of the County’s taxable sales come from Saint Paul businesses; and,

WHEREAS, the city’s portion of this $350 million ($165 million) contribution in sales tax would be akin to raising the city’s current property tax levy by 173% approximately 17%, an amount the city would never consider imposing to pay for our basic services; and,

WHEREAS, at a time when the city is facing significant cuts to essential services due to proposed reductions in Local Government Aid (LGA), the City Council asserts that our number one policy priority is the funding of basic municipal functions including police, fire, parks, library services and public works which should be provided at a reasonable cost to all taxpayers; and,

WHEREAS, it is unfair and inequitable for the residents and businesses of Saint Paul to be asked to bear a disproportionate financial burden for the construction of a State and regional amenity, particularly when the benefit to Saint Paul taxpayers is tangential at best;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Saint Paul City Council opposes the imposition of a ½ cent sales tax in Ramsey County to support the construction of a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Saint Paul City Council encourages the Governor, the Legislature, the Ramsey County Board, the Minnesota Vikings and other interested parties to consider options for constructing a stadium that minimize risk to the taxpayers, limit the level of public subsidy (particularly for the host community), and promote a fair, multi-jurisdictional participation for a State-wide amenity.

I think the City of St. Paul’s position on the Arden Hills Vikings Stadium position is pretty darn clear. Strike one (a BIG whiff) for Tony Bennett.

Here is what Roseville’s city council did to Commissioner Bennett’s draft Vikings welfare proposal:

Opposition to Ramsey County Half-Cent Sales Tax for Viking Stadium

WHEREAS, the Roseville City Council recognizes the social and economic value of the Minnesota Vikings Football team to the State of Minnesota; and,

WHEREAS, to preserve the Minnesota Vikings as a valuable State amenity, the City Council understands the desire to find a solution to the Vikings’ stated interest in developing a new stadium; and,

WHEREAS, a proposal has been put forth by the Minnesota Vikings and the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners to construct a new stadium in Arden Hills on the site of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant (TCAAP); and,

WHEREAS, to finance the construction of this facility, the Ramsey County Board has proposed the imposition of a half-cent sales tax collected in Ramsey County in an amount sufficient to generate $350 million; and,

WHEREAS, at a time when our city is facing significant cuts to essential services the City Council asserts that our number one policy priority is funding basic municipal functions, including police, fire, parks and public works which should be provided at a reasonable cost to all taxpayers; and,

WHEREAS, it is unfair and inequitable for the residents and businesses of Roseville to be asked to bear a disproportionate financial burden for the construction of a State and regional amenity, particularly when the benefit to Roseville taxpayers is tangential at best;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Roseville City Council opposes the imposition of a half-cent sales tax in Ramsey County to support the construction of a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills; and,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Roseville City Council encourages the Governor, Legislature, Ramsey County Board, Minnesota Vikings and other interested parties to consider options for constructing a stadium that minimize risk to the taxpayers, limit the level of public subsidy (particularly for the host community), and promote a fair, multi-jurisdictional participation for a State-wide amenity.

The motion for the adoption of the foregoing resolution was duly seconded by Member, and upon a vote being taken thereon, the following voted in favor thereof: and the following voted against the same: none.

WHEREUPON said resolution was declared duly passed and adopted

A unanimous decision in favor of saying no to public welfare for the Vikings Stadium.

Ramsey County has 508,640 residents. The City of St. Paul has 285,068, and Roseville has 33,660, so those two cities alone account for nearly 2/3 of Ramsey County’s entire population.

The Vikings claim that they’ve found a “Local Partner” in Ramsey County, but how can that really be the case if two of the largest cities in Ramsey County have rejected the Vikings in no uncertain terms? (By the way, “local partner” is the Vikings’ preferred term for “secondary source of welfare after what we’ve asked the state for so we don’t have to ask the state for a bigger check than what Wilf is willing to chip in”.)

Or, we could look at what Ramsey County Commissioner, District 3, Janice Rettman, wrote to the other Ramsey County commissioners regarding the stadium proposal in May:

May 19, 2011

To ALL who have contacted me regarding the Vikings’ stadium:

Thank you so very much for sharing with me your comments, thoughts, insights, opinions and passion
regarding the proposed Vikings Stadium at Arden Hills and the proposed Ramsey County involvement.

I am sending this letter to everyone as an update.

By resolution (2-15-11) (vote 6-1), Ramsey County became an active player in the effort to finance and
construct a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings professional football team. The current bill(s) in the
legislature provides for a number of options under which the state and local governmental partner could
finance their portions of the cost.

Two members of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners have been negotiating with the owners of
the Vikings and have proposed that the local portion be paid with a .5% general sales tax.

While this may be an easy way, I believe there are additional options for both the state and the county
that are being taken out of discussion or granted to the Vikings without the benefit of public review.
Equally I believe that Benefit-Based Financing Options offer a better financing option than the 1/2
percent Ramsey County only sales tax
.

In other words I believe that those who use it pay for it. Those who benefit pay for it.

Some of the benefit-based options I have looked at include parking revenue, advertising, parking lot
naming rights, and a stadium food and beverage surcharge
. I believe these options help create the
benefit-based financing plan the governor and many citizens have sought and I whole-heartedly agree
with. They also could provide sufficient revenue to pay for the county’s portion without a sales tax.
However, these options are currently NOT in the “Pay Playbook” at the legislature nor in the
Ramsey County and Vikings proposals. For example, all of the parking revenue right now will be in
the Vikings financial score sheet.
(See Charlie Walters “Don’t Print That” from the Saint Paul Pioneer
Press, May 15,2011).

I am strongly in favor of the Vikings staying in Minnesota. I also believe the Vikings should pay for one
half of the financing including infrastructure improvements. In addition, any contract or term agreement
sheets must include language that all jobs created and retained, including construction and service jobs at
the stadium, must pay prevailing wages and benefits.

My request is that you encourage decision makers to keep these mechanisms in or amend any legislative
bill(s) to include them as the stadium plan moves through the process. Specifically, for example, Ramsey
County should be permitted to collect all revenue from stadium parking facilities which is much of the
“new money” in the move to Arden Hills. With the inclusion of these financing items we can have a
thoughtful and thorough discussion at the local level before choosing the best revenue source for Ramsey
County citizens should the location be at Arden Hills.

Thank you again.

Janice Rettman
Ramsey County Commissioner, District 3

By putting the needs of her constituents ahead of Zygi Wilf’s, she’s not going to win much support from purple tainted fans, but I think Commissioner Rettman will be just fine come election time defending her position in favor of the needs of Ramsey County residents over the wants of a private business owner in New Jersey.

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