It’s interesting to see how much the reporting on the Vikings stadium bill has improved now that the Vikings corporate welfare stadium bill has passed the MN House and Senate.
In general, stadia neutralize the space around them and kill the city- as an urban construct.
Patrick Reusse, writing for 1500ESPN less than 24 hour after the bill passed, has an impressive piece looking at how much the public was fleeced by the Wilfs. Bob Collins calls Reusse’s after the fact reporting “journalistic malpractice”:
From Reusse’s column:
We in the Twin Cities sports media were so amped up over getting a new stadium for the Vikings and thus maintaining them as a subject to write and talk about that not much time was spent looking at the financial realities.
Nick Coleman points out the problem with Reusse’s piece (Reusse also writes for the StarTribune):
Reusse closes his piece on 1500ESPN by pointing out that the Vikings are probably only putting $27 million of their own money toward the construction of the $975 million stadium:
Add it up – naming rights, license fees, NFL grant _ and you have $450 million of Zygi’s $477 million. That doesn’t seem to be much suffering for a fellow now being depicted as the patient martyr of stadium negotiations.
That’s something we never saw in the StarTribune. And, something people chanting “BUILD IT! BUILD IT!” clearly didn’t understand.
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer’s letter to colleagues explains how much the public got hosed over in the conference committee. The House and Senate both passed versions of the Vikings stadium which then went to conference committee to reconcile the differences.
But, that’s not what happened.
Both bills heading in to conference committee were better bills for the public than the bill that came out. Instead of a regression toward the mean, we saw the public’s regression toward a private business owned by a New Jersey businessman:
Usually bills get better when they come back from a conference committee.
This time, it got worse. Additional pork for St. Paul and Minneapolis was added, a shocking data privacy for the Vikings was included, the funding mechanism of the pull tabs continued, the percentage to charity got smaller, no user fees included and the general fund continues to be at risk of bailing out this project in the future. In addition, the “new” $50 million the team is “adding” to their portion is offset by the team getting the naming rights instead of the state. The Wilf family also got back in their exclusive rights to a Soccer team for the next five years or so. Quite an amazing package for the owners.
I realized that this was a set deal between the Vikings, the Governor and the bill authors and that no matter the amendments or arguments, it would get done. They had enough votes to force it through.
This is becoming a classic NFL scam. Get the media to focus on the up-front construction costs, while ignoring the real money in a stadium deal. The public will receive nothing from naming rights, concessions, parking, user fees tied to tickets, suites or merchandise. But, the public will have the opportunity to pay for the stadium, to maintain the stadium, and to continually upgrade the stadium to NFL standards. Minneapolis takes a huge hit on this, with $675 to $890 million in stadium obligations over 30 years.
Esme Murphy blogged about the change in public sentiment regarding public financing for a stadium:
Somewhere in the haze of the past few months of the Vikings stadium debate, I heard someone say if legislators really thought people wanted a Vikings Stadium that they would vote for it.
I honestly can’t remember where I heard it, or who said it. But I kept thinking about it. It was so simple, so basic, so true. And in the end, it was why I was convinced that there was not a chance of a stadium bill getting through the legislature.
A couple of months ago, if you mentioned the topic on the radio, the phone calls and the texts were overwhelming in anger and opposition. But in a remarkable and fundamental turn around, public opinion began to shift and ultimately lawmakers began to soften.
Albert Breer with The NFL Network explained (on May 11th, of course) how gullible MN legislators and Governor Dayton were regarding the Los Angeles relocation threats:
The league is no closer to returning to the nation’s second-largest market. And the truth is, there’s a good chance the NFL is still a long way from returning to a city it vacated — twice over — 17 years ago.
The league actually has found L.A. to be a profitable market from a TV standpoint if it’s simply fed the best games week to week, which happens because there isn’t a local club to stop that from happening.
Supporting the public financing / corporate welfare package was surely easier for people who didn’t understand the terms of the deal. In fact, it seems like Vikings fans who paid close attention to the debate still don’t understand what the public has given Zygi:
To me, that’s the real failure of the media on this issue. When people disagreeing on an issue can’t at least agree upon the facts surrounding that issue, the media has failed the public.