Commerce Committee Hearing on the Vikings Stadium #Wilfare Bill

@DailyNorseman I lost the feed and my Internet. Reading open thread. Did I miss Ed Kohler??? Please tell me no.

I had a chance to testify at the MN House’s Commerce Committee hearing tonight on the Vikings stadium Wilfare bill. Thanks to Rep. Hoppe for holding a professional meeting.

The topic of the hearing was revenue sources. The current bill relies upon revenue from non-existant and unproven electronic pulltabs. They concept here is that kids these days just aren’t that in to ripping open paper pulltabs, but really like gidgets and gadgets, so the money will flow in like crazy if we could only switch to electronic pulltabs. Then, rather than give the windfall to charities, it would be diverted to cover a portion of Vikings fans and Zygi Wilf refuse to pay for the stadium they claim to value.

I testified that:

I am a Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Hennepin County resident so could pay for a new stadium three different ways.

I cited a House research report on the state of pulltab revenue in MN called: 2006-2010: Industry under Stress that shows the decline in pulltab revenues over time. Here’s is that information in chart form:

And a table of ten of those years:

I have a theory that the drop in revenue is due to far more interesting distractions in bars today: Smartphones. I used the following nuggets to attempt to make that point:

20% drop in revenue from 2004-2010
What happened?
June 29, 2007: Launch of the iPhone

2008: 12.8% drop in revenue:
What happened?
Apple launches the App Store. iPhone 3G is launched.

Then talked about the continued expansion of smartphone market share:

2006-2009: Smartphone market penetration more than 15-42% (FCC)
Feb 2012: 50% of Americans own a smartphone (Nielsen)
66% of 24-35 year olds one a smartphone (Nielsen)
2/3 of phones will be smartphones by 2014 (Pyramid research)

I asked the committee if they could get their kid to put down their iPhone to do pulltabs.

And, I stated that a group of people sitting around a table with a pitcher of beer ripping pulltabs may put down their pulltabs if they were each given an iPhone.

And, I mentioned that smartphones are only getting cheaper, so they should continue to grow.

I also asked the committee if they really believed that the Vikings would never come back to the public to ask for a reduction in their lease – pointing out that the team is owned by real estate professionals. Is that a reliable funding source?

That was that.

Then a few dozen Vikings fans who, like me, want to see a new Vikings stadium built (as long as they don’t have to pay for it) spent their evenings insulting me on Twitter. I spent my evening retweeting them. Patrick Phenow got a kick out of it:

Democracy in action.

Shortly after hearing my apparently non-persuasive testimony, the bill passed out of the commerce committee on a voice vote. The first of many hurdles passed in a legislature that doesn’t seem particularly interested in explaining to voters in their new districts why they voted to borrow more than half a billion to subsidize a Vikings stadium before paying back the money that has been borrowed from schools.

There are still many opportunities for the legislature, Gov. Dayton, and Mayor Rybak to lead on this issue by asking fans and local businesses to chip in now to reduce the public’s debt costs.

Rep. Lanning estimates that debt service on MN share of stadium debt @ $42m/yr. 2X what Vikings pay in sales & income taxes today. #wilfare

As the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Morrie Lanning, pointed out during the hearing (which should have generated a record scratch and silence, but didn’t), the state’s debt payments will be around $42 million/yr. That’s around twice what the Vikings generate in sales and income taxes, so we can turn two dollars into one five hundred and fifty million times for Zygi Wilf’s benefit.

7 thoughts on “Commerce Committee Hearing on the Vikings Stadium #Wilfare Bill”

  1. “Shortly after hearing my apparently non-persuasive testimony,”======= I’m sure they were impressed with your novel approach, though, using the iPhone and all. Wasn’t the drop in revenues also around the time of the smoking ban in bars? That’s what is often attributed to the drop in pull-tab sales.

  2. @ed Actually, I think you may have helped the committee pass the deal—even if you didn’t want to do that. They had to hold a hearing and get tired of the typical gadflies who provide input and are invariably ignored. You are not a gadfly. They need citizens like you for political cover, because it allows them to pass whatever they want and then claim political cover in saying that they had an open hearing to gather other points of view. Now, if you had actually had generated some real discussion on your points that probably were new information, I would be really impressed. The facts really don’t matter. The stadium deal is now on the fast track. Tip-boards may be a joke, but it just doesn’t matter.

    FYI. MPR has an article from a local attorney about the Brodkorb mess. She points to the “embarrassment” factor for the GOP. This view is now also being embraced by some knowledgeable attorneys I know. The GOP is scared to death about an “embarrasment” and wants to end the session as soon as possible and get out of town if the ceiling comes in. The testimony you gave was never going to matter, because the deal is basically done, the facts don’t matter anymore and the session is going to end early to avoid Brodkorb spillover. Dat’s the way it is probably going to be.

  3. @Rat, I thought about that. The smoking ban was a 1-time thing (not exactly) but the drop in gross revenues has continuted to fall.

  4. @Rick, it sounds like Parry is the roadblock in the senate. He’s not running for senate again, and is probably interested in burying the bill so he can campaign against Walz for the US House seat.

  5. @Ed. If you go back several months, Parry and Brodkorb were real close buddies. Brodkorb agreed to manage Parry’s run for Congress when he stepped down as the GOP deputy chair. Then after the ethics hearing it is Parry who tries to shield reporters from talking to the ethics chair, Fischbak(?). I don’t think Parry has any role in ethics but he apparently found some reason to intervene.

    Now given that background, it is not inconceivable to think that Parry is causing trouble on various matters in order to get the Senate GOP leaders and Ludeman to agree to a settlement with Brodkorb. The stadium might just be a bargaining chip.

    Maybe you and Parry should align your efforts to stop Wilfare!!!!

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