Governor Dayton likes to use the term “The People’s Stadium” to refer to the more than half a billion dollar gift to Zygi Wilf’s private business. To illustrate just how bad of a deal this is for the public, let’s look at how the treatment of one downtown block under the Vikings stadium bill violates the Minneapolis City Charter. Check out “The People’s Parking Ramp” in the red section of the StarTribune’s stadium plan infographic:
See the parking ramp?
As I understand it, that parking ramp would hold 2,500 cars. It costs around $20,000 per car to build a parking ramp these days, so that ramp will cost around $50 million to build. Based on the breakdown of costs between public and private financing of the project, the public would spend around $25 million so Vikings VIPs can park a block closer to the stadium. Based on the city and state’s shares, the City of Minneapolis would be paying $7.9 million to build this parking ramp for Zygi.
By the way, that’s a public subsidy of $33 per parked car per game for 30 years (including pre-season games).
But, it gets worse. Zygi Wilf owns that parcel of land. Currently, Wilf pays taxes on that piece of property: $42,144.04 for 2012. Hennepin County’s property info site shows this:
Under the terms of the current bill, that land would shift from taxable to tax-exempt. By removing that land from the tax rolls, the city’s remaining taxpayers would have to make up a $1.7 million property tax shortfall from that one parcel of land over 30 years. And, that’s based on the land NOT being developed. Taxes would clearly be higher if it was developed into to something other than the surface lot it is today (parking ramp, commercial building, residential, mixed-use, etc.).
But, it gets worse. Today, many Vikings fans park in lots or at meters owned by the city. Under the terms of the proposed Vikings stadium bill, Wilf would get to keep the parking revenues generated at the lot we helped build (and let him use tax free). If we even assume an average cost of $15/car being shifted from public parking to The People’s Parking Ramp, that’s up to $37,500 in lost parking revenue to the public per game, $375,000/yr, or $11,250,000 over 30 years (without even taking inflation into consideration).
Again, the City Charter regarding public financing for pro sports stadiums:
Section 13. – Putting Professional Sports Facility Financing Before the Voters.
The City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Community Development Agency, or any city department, agency, commission, or board, shall use no city resources over $10 million dollars for the financing of professional sports facilities without the approval of a simple majority of the votes cast on the question, in a ballot question put to the public at the next regularly scheduled election. City resources are defined for these purposes as: Tax increment financing, bonds, loans, land purchase or procurement, land or site preparation, including necessary infrastructure such as roads, parking development, sewer and water, or other infrastructure development, general fund expenditures, sales tax or other taxes, deferred payments, interest free or below market interest rate loans, the donation or below market value sale of any city resources or holdings or any other free or below cost city services. The ballot question shall not be put before the public in a special election, in order to prevent the costs associated with special elections. (11-4-97)
$10 million is the cutoff for requiring a referendum. As I’ve shown above, the City of Minneapolis would be contributing:
- $7.9 million toward construction of The People’s Parking Ramp
- $1.7 million in lost property taxes on a parcel of valuable downtown real estate by shifting it from taxable to tax exempt.
- As much as $11.25 million in lost municipal parking revenue by giving Zygi Wilf all of the parking revenue generated at The People’s Parking Ramp (which he operates property tax free).
Even without including Minneapolis’ contribution to the stadium’s operating costs, the city’s contribution to this professional sports stadium plan is more than double the amount triggering a referendum under the City Charter.
If you add up the property tax revenue from all of the land that will become tax exempt, it triggers the City Charter. And, as shown above, how one parcel of downtown land is being treated should trigger the City Charter.
If Kevin Reich, Sandy Colvin Roy, and Don Samuels’ word is good regarding their position on the City Charter, this is a no-brainer. The city is giving away millions in property taxes, millions to build a parking ramp, and millions in municipal parking revenue. Even if you are willing to accept Rybak’s argument regarding who controls the convention center taxes, the City Charter is still violated at least twice under the terms of the current stadium plan.