Are Minnesotans Willing to Let the Vikings Leave over #wilfare?

Rick brought up an interesting scenario in the comments of a previous post:

@Ed. As an isolated question, the vast majority doesn’t want to provide Wilfare.

If it becomes a matter of providing Wilfare or losing the Vikes, I think that the legislature is sensing that Wilfare option has the least backlash.

He goes on to explain that we should steer the state’s wealth through gambling in order to redistribute it to Zygi Wilf’s private business. But, the question he raised is worth pondering.

When polled last month, 68% of Minnesotans stated that a stadium should be entirely privately funded. 68%. There are few issues where Minnesotans share such a high level of agreement.

The scenario Rick posed was not polled.

But, let’s think about this. Is one expected to believe that Minnesotans who’ve stated that Zygi Wilf should pay for his own stadium privately don’t understand the stakes? I think they do, and don’t think the Vikings provide enough value to justify giving away the public’s money to maintain the status quo.

This becomes blatantly clear when we look at the lack of financial support Vikings fans have shown for this Vikings stadium plan. While they are interested in spending other people’s money to build a stadium in order to subsidize their season tickets, they have not expressed an interest in subsidizing Wilf’s private business beyond what they pay for their tickets. Which tells me that even season ticket holders don’t see enough value in a new stadium to justify building one.

If the 53,000 season ticket holders of the Minnesota Vikings aren’t willing to come up with less than $10,000 each (which they could finance over 30 years for less than $75/month) why should non-fans be forced to make up the difference?

28 thoughts on “Are Minnesotans Willing to Let the Vikings Leave over #wilfare?”

  1. I do not support any state, county or city money going to fund a new stadium. If it were put to a vote I would vote no. I may be in the minority here but I would be willing to see the Vikings leave rather than support Wilfare. The team itself has honestly not proven itself worthy of the new stadium.

  2. Is the $75 a month ($150 or more unless you enjoy going to football games alone) over and above the price of the season tickets?

    This question gets to the nub of it. I think most people are against public funding for these ventures, but are not nearly as single-mindedly opposed as Our Host, and might find a certain combination of sources of private and public funding palatable. And a survey question as in “do you oppose public funding for the Viking Stadium” is still sort of a debate on public funding for a stadium as a concept.

    I think if asked Are Minnesotans Willing to Let the Vikings Leave a good portion would just say: build the damn thing so we can all move on. But if this tiring exercise drags on and on, I would half like to see the owner of the team up the ante and publicly say he was entertaining offers to move the team, or sell it to someone who would. Tunes would be changed.

  3. @Rat, I don’t think the owners have explicitly threatened to leave because:

    1. They don’t have a better option. The Los Angeles plan is far worse than what Dayton is offering in Wilfare.

    2. The NFL has teams in far worse shape than the Vikings, so if a team were to move it would not be MN.

    While some people in MN probably are willing to give their money to Wilf to make the stadium debate go away, others are likely willing to give their money to Wilf if he promises to go away.

  4. @Rat. Yes. That’s the money fans would need to come up with to make up for Wilf’s own financial shortcomings. So, yes, in addition to what they’re paying for tickets today. Fans do not seem any more interested than Wilf in paying for a new stadium.

  5. Ed keeps relying on the poll number of 68% opposed to public funding for the Wilf’s. This number is interesting but not necessary enlightening. The best polling question is “would you support public funding for a Vikings stadium if it was the only means of keeping the Vikings in MN.” I suspect the answer is closer to half and half.

    The two most influential DFL politicians in State are Dayton and Rybak and if they agreed with Ed, they wouldn’t even bother to touch the stadium issue. Nor would Senjem or a bunch of other GOP leaders. Ed is either a visionary or offbase….pick one or the other.

    We really don’t know what options the NFL has at this point. They have made an effort to tone down the speculation about LA. As far as the Wilf’s go, they probably have options as well and I suspect they might consider selling the team if they are stuck in the existing Dome with a team that produces no cash flow and the franchise appreciation potential expires. So far, there has never been a willing MN buyer waiting in the wings except for Denny Hecker.

    There are a few stadiums in the NFL that are worse off financially than the current Dome, but very few. One is in SF and they are getting a new subsidized stadium. Jerry Jones of the Cowboys let it slip out that he and other owners are disgusted with subsidizing the current Dome in a market that can support a better stadium. NFL economics are not well understood by folks outside of the system. Some 40% of the revenue from Vikings tickets is given to the NFL shared revenue pool and Ed’s novel idea about assessing each ticket holder $75 per month goes into the sharing pool as well. Ed doesn’t get it.

  6. @Rick, I have a hard time believing that Minnesotans don’t understand the potential consequences of endorsing fully privately funded stadium solutions. As I see it, Minnesotans understand the value the Vikings bring to them, and have decided that it’s not enough to warrant using public funding to support. And Vikings fans have made it clear that they are unwilling to spend their own money to subsidize Wilf’s bottom line.

    The question you posed should be posed to Vikings fans. Not to the general public.

  7. @Ed. What planet are you on? How did all the stadiums we have get built??? Did Minnesotans stop any from being constructed?? Why is the current deal any different? The Twins got public subsidy and the State loves it. Why would the Twins deal be accepted and the Vikings blocked? You have no factual basis for your statements.

  8. “How did all the stadiums we have get built???”

    –so Rick…how many profitable stadiums have been built since 2007?

    You keep insisting the ‘rubes of MN’ don’t understand the NFL model…I say they understand it quite well, and while they could hold their noses for a 200 million, multi-purpose stadium, they reject a BILLION dollar, single-use one.

    Times have changed Rick my friend and it is the NFL that needs to get out more.

  9. @Rick, the Twins deal was done by Hennepin County, who doesn’t have the charter restrictions the City of Minneapolis has. The county has not expressed an interest in providing corporate welfare to Zygi Wilf.

    I think it’s safe to assume that the state would love a new Vikings stadium as well. As they complain about the state of schools, potholes, healthcare, and bridges in the state. It’s a want. Not a need. And a want that those who claim to want it aren’t willing to pay for, so not even much of a want, eh?

  10. @Ed. You are right in that, so far, Hennipen county hasn’t gotten involved but Ramsey county wanted in on Wilfare and even got Dayton on board for awhile.

    Then Dayton got cold feet in the possibility of having to battle MIGA which would probably be affected if Arden Hills is built. Your buddy Mayor Rybak jumped in with the pulltab idea, which may have some big variables and unknowns. Had Rybak not injected himself, we might well be on a course to a Ramsey county sponsored Wilfare which would compare to the Twins stadium AND you would have to come up with yet another EXCUSE.

    The other issue is you keep talking around in circles that if the Vikings stadium is subsidized then this NECESSARILY means schools and other social service programs won’t get funded. Of course you never noticed how the 2011 budget got balanced in the legislature without any Vikings controversy. The schools are funded by whatever our legislators believe is required. I seriously doubt that school funding will be screwed down anymore because of the Vikings. Also many local school projects get shot down by local voters who don’t value education. It’s sad, but not related to stadium financing.

    You have no idea how much the legislature might be willing to subsidize as it hasn’t come up for a vote. What voters might agree to–when the deal is either a go or no go isn’t yet tested.

    And I presume that you are pretty much with the Other Mike and his nutty ideas because you haven’t indicated otherwise.

  11. @Rick, Ramsey County’s charter requires a vote to raise taxes to pay for a stadium. It’s not a deal breaker. Just bring a proposal to Ramsey County voters that’s actually good for Ramsey County and they’ll vote for it. But, if the proposal is to have Ramsey County borrow $300 million or more to subsidize Wilf’s business, it won’t have the votes because it’s NOT good for Ramsey County. There is also an active petition drive with thousands of signatures working to create a charter amendment similar to what Minneapolis has on the books since some elected officials, like Bennett and Ortega, don’t seem to be getting the hint.

    The legislature balanced the budget by borrowing billions of dollars from schools. That money has not been paid back.

    Some school levies do get shot down. But, if you put a school levy and a Vikings stadium on the ballot, what do you think would have a better shot at winning support from voters?

    I have an idea, since there is a bill to review.

    Assume whatever you’d want. Looking at your assumptions about Schiff, Hodges, Ramsey County, the shutdown budget, and education vs. stadiums, I assume that your assumptions could use some validation.

  12. @Ed. At this point we don’t know what is going to happen in Ramsey county and your faith in possible petition a charter is out on a limb at the minimum. I shot down your reason for saying the Target center was so different from the Vikings deal and you sidestepped it.

    What Schiff’ has said is on the record. Hodges admits she her position is ideology–and she has that right and is clear about it—but how does that really differ from Inflexible TParty folks who dig in their heels?? She just shut off the debate–and refuses to talk about the Vikings.

    The state shutdown is a matter of record and shows how highly the legislature valued the schools compared to Dayton ‘s idea to increase taxes on the rich. No doubt that action reinforced your confidence that the legislature will always act in your interests and will always reflect your values too.

    I have not heard of any politician announce that if the Vikings stadium is subsidized and approved, the state will NOT fund any specific program. Have you? Please do tell us about it!!!

  13. The Ramsey County anti-wilfare folks have already collected more than 7,000 signatures. With less than 15,000, they can get a charter amendment on the ballot.

    As I pointed out, but you seem to have missed, the Target Center is different because it’s currently paid for with Minneapolis property taxes. Efforts to shift that burden from property tax owners to some other group are good for the city.

    Hodges ideology differs from Tea Party people in that the TP crowd things there is no roll for government while Hodges thinks government can make people’s lives better, but making one guy in New Jersey’s life better at the expense of hundreds of thousands of Minneapolis residents is not good public policy.

    The shutdown shows that groups that won’t agree to raise taxes or make significant cuts are going to have a hard time coming up with more than half a billion dollars for a stadium without raising taxes or making significant cuts.

    Perhaps you’ve forgotten that some politicians have said that they would be willing to raid the Legacy Fund in order to give money from the arts to Zygi Wilf. The current bill is opposed by charitable gambling operators because they are concerned that earmarking pulltab revenue for Vikings season ticket subsidies would hurt youth sports and nursing homes like Catholic Eldercare, who depend upon charitable gambling revenue today.

  14. @Ed. Interesting to note that your point about Target center doesn’t object to public funding— you seem to be ok with that aspect as long as the burden is shifted from Mpls property tax payees to another source. Pretty feeble defense on your part.

    My statement about Hodges is that she openly admits her opposition is “ideological”–her words not mine—and she stops the discussion there. She will not discuss it. That is exactly the same blockade tactic Obama and moderate GOP leaders have experienced with the wing nuts of the right. When the debate is shut off–we all lose. Hodges apparently doesn’t value open discussion and debate–except when it suits her interests to do so.

    I fully agree with you on the problems with the charitable gambling matter and I think it would be more productive to spend your time on thus issue rather than whine about personal seat licenses or stupid statements by Merrifield. At this point in time, even the Strib–which is very conflicted on the Dome site–is reporting that charitable gambling might be the provision that hangs the deal for 2012. There are a lot of legislators and councilfolk who don’t want to vote and the charitable gambling issue is a GREAT EXCUSE to do nothing.

  15. @Rick, Target Center is an existing problem worth dealing with. Not a justification for creating another problem.

    Hodges seems to have a strong sense of right and wrong on this issue. Perhaps that’s based on her experience with previous projects that have gone bad? Regardless, if a person believes that providing corporate welfare to NFL teams is bad public policy, it’s up to the wilfare queens to come up with an argument that can change her mind. Or, just finance the stadium privately. Crazy talk, I know.

    I don’t see how the Vikings are going to be able to extract more than half a billion in borrowed money out of the public. When fans are unwilling to support their team through PSLs, why should non-fans make up the difference?

  16. “GREAT EXCUSE to do nothing”

    Here is the greatest excuse to do nothing–
    (source = wiki)
    Metropolitan Stadium – Construction cost = US$8.5 million ($72.7 million in 2012 dollars)
    Metrodome Stadium – Construction cost = $68 million ($164 million in 2012 dollars)
    TCF Bank Stadium – Construction cost = US$303,386,606 ($329 million in 2012 dollars)
    Target Field – Construction cost = $545 million ($581 million in 2012 dollars)

    And yet–
    ZygiWorld Stadium – Construction cost = $975 million (before inevitable cost overruns)
    –will the NFL entertainment value be 13.4 times better than it was at Met Stadium? Only if Scrambling Fran has been cloned.

    Reason #2 of course is because the NFL is past peak.

  17. @The Other Mike, spending time waiting (aka: doing nothing) while the Vikings and Vikings fans ponder that nothing is preventing them from breaking ground on a new stadium today but their own greed. It’s smart to fold when dealt a bad deal.

  18. @Ed

    Yet another idea of yours that seems to be of no significance to the the Stadium bill—city charters. So what if there is a petition signed in Ramsey county. I just doesn’t matter.

    Quoting MPR today:

    St. Paul, Minn. — There’s nothing new about the proposal to circumvent the Minneapolis City Charter to build a new Vikings Stadium. In fact, the state Legislature routinely overrides local governments and their charters.

    “[The Minneapolis City Charter] has been waived, in the last 20 years, umpteen times,” said stadium bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, on MPR’s Morning Edition.

    The Charter requires a citywide referendum before Minneapolis can spend more than $10 million to finance a professional sports facility. The stadium bill introduced Monday simply says the charter doesn’t apply.

    end of quote

    Ed, you need to clean up your debate tactics and get some better material.

  19. @Rick, back when Koch was running the Senate, she specifically mentioned that Ramsey County residents deserve to vote if their taxes would be raised for Zygi Wilf’s benefit.

    The Minneapolis City Council has specifically cited the Minneapolis City Charter as something that should be honored.

    Members of the legislature have specifically cited the Minneapolis City Charter as something that should be honored.

    While both charters could certainly be violated for Zygi Wilf’s benefit, raising taxes on city or county for the sole purpose of providing corporate welfare to a man who wants but doesn’t need it is a tough sell.

    It’s beginning to look like the Vikings and Vikings fans’ best chance of breaking ground this year is to pool their own money rather than continuing to beg for private entertainment subsidies.

  20. @Ed. WOW. Did you just invoke Amy Koch as the crux of your argument???

    You seem to be grasping at anything possible that keeps you in a state of denial.

  21. Rick-‘You seem to be grasping at anything possible that keeps you in a state of denial.’

    I know you are, but what am I?

  22. Ha…sorry Rick, but really, you alley-ooped, I had to slam it down.

    Cleansing breath…Rick my friend, you have misplaced the debate. This is not about Ed, or me, or any of the mechanisms of predatory or political process.

    This is about the NFL, which is–
    1–Predatory to its fans and communities, and
    2–Past peak.
    3–A use of public resources that no longer has ROI.

    Focus my friend, then please take a stance on the issue, it will help the discussion. Thanks!

  23. “So, yes, in addition to what they’re paying for tickets today. Fans do not seem any more interested than Wilf in paying for a new stadium.”=========== I can understand that. $10K, and twice as much if you buy two season tickets, is still a lot of money to me. So I can fathom their reluctance.

  24. @Rat. Tickets prices will go up for the premium seats, but Dayton is making the Wilf’s agree to selling some portion of seats at “affordable prices” — yet to be defined.

    According to a just released article on CityPages, the Wilf’s expect to get some $75 million of their outlay from Ed’s “personal seat licenses.”. You can bet that if the Wilf’s could get 100% from them –they would. Ed wasn’t the first to think of this revenue source–it just doesn’t have the same potential in MN as compared to NYC, Dallas, or SF.

    You can be assured the Vikes will milk the fans for the maximum possible and probably raise the price of a beer to 10 bucks as well.

  25. @Rat, the difference between Rick and me is I think Vikings fans should reduce the public’s burden thru PSLs rather than enrich a NJ businessman while MN is making debt payments.

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