Letter to Legislative Colleagues from Sen. John Marty Regarding Vikings Stadium #wilfare

MN Senator John Marty is making a last ditch effort for common sense to prevail on Vikings stadium financing:

Dear Colleagues:

By this time, it is likely that most legislators know how they are voting on the Vikings stadium issue. However, prior to the floor votes, it is important that we recognize the amount of public money that we are expecting our constituents to pay to subsidize Mr. Wilf and his fellow investors.

As I pointed out previously, the Senate legislation that passed out of the Senate Committees last week is equivalent to a taxpayer subsidy of $77.30 for every ticket for each of the 65,000 seats, for every Vikings home game, for the next 30 years.

Some have questioned whether that is a fair way to measure the subsidy when the stadium will be used for high school sports and other events. But the reality is, as Ted Mondale stated, “The whole reason we’re doing this is so the team can make money.”

Using the numbers that were developed by Ramsey County for the Arden Hills proposal last fall, annual ticket revenues for the Vikings in the new stadium would total $90 million; the ticket revenues for all other events were estimated to total only $2 million/year.

In other words, Vikings ticket revenues would be 45 times as great as all other stadium events combined!

You don’t need a billion dollar stadium for monster trucks or high school sports. This legislation is here only because the Vikings want it. It truly is a $77 subsidy for every ticket, at every game, every year.

This $77/ticket subsidy doesn’t count the property tax break that this legislation gives to the Vikings – the people who can afford to lease a suite at $250,000 for ten games are exempted from property taxes, while Minneapolis homeowners and renters are struggling with increasingly large property taxes. That property tax exemption is worth an additional $25 million/year, which is an additional $750 million public subsidy in over thirty years.

Some legislators seem to be fooled by the many phone calls and emails generated by the Vikings lobby, demanding that we fund the stadium. One Senate member claims his emails are running 100 to 1 in support.

Is the public’s consistent, strong opposition to public funding of sports franchises weakening? When the Star Tribune (despite its financial conflict of interest related to land ownership near the stadium) has produced three polls in the last three years showing public opposition ranging from about 2 to 1 opposition to 3 to 1 opposition, don’t trust the Vikings lobby “grassroots” campaign as reflecting public opinion.

Obviously, there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. But when the state has borrowed so much money from schools, and many of our constituents are struggling to afford healthcare, it is likely that many people will chafe at the idea that we are spending $77 in public money to subsidize a highly profitable football team so that Mr. Wilf and the Vikings “can make money.”

Let’s create construction jobs by addressing the multi-billion dollar backlog of repair and maintenance of our public infrastructure instead.

This stadium subsidy is not a good deal for our constituents. Thank you for your consideration of this information.

Sincerely,

Sen. John Marty

As of 3:20pm the Vikings stadium financing plan has been improved by $105 million thanks to Rep. Garafalo. That’s a good start.

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