Vikings Stadium Fans Still Haven’t Found Their Checkbooks #wilfare

A guy who thinks that it’s the state and city’s responsibility to heavily subsidize his entertainment – John G. Morgan, of Burnsville – wrote an op-ed for the StarTribune that the StarTribune published. Morgan writes a counterpoint to the anti-stadium (ah-hem, pro-Vikings fans finding their checkbooks) arguments he’s heard.

Here’s a counterpoint to his counterpoints:

“The NFL is a dying league.”

Wrong. The NFL is the most popular sport for at least the 30th year in a row.

If it’s such a popular sport, why does it need to rely on billions in public subsidies every year?

“Exorbitant ticket costs.”

While there certainly will be expensive seats, many will be $50 or less, about midrange for entertainment options. Many concerts cost well more than $100 to attend these days. It costs more than $30 just to see a small production at the Ames Center for the performing arts in Burnsville, where I live.

I totally agree with this one. The tickets are far too cheap. They should include a $100/ticket fee on top of today’s prices to allow fans to cover the public’s stadium obligations.

“Nonprofits, charities, cities and otherwise worthwhile causes lost funding due to the stadium.”

Just flat-out false. There is not, nor has there ever been, a connection between funding a stadium and not funding roads, schools, hospitals, charities, etc. By the way, how many millions do the team and players contribute to charities every year?

It has been brought to my attention that public money collected to subsidize Vikings fans is not fungible. Yes, this makes no sense, but don’t let that stop a StarTribune op-ed from being published.

How many millions do the team donate to charity every year? Millions? The Vikings don’t even contribute a million to their primary charity per year. Seriously. We’re converting $30 million in taxpayer dollars per year into less than $1 million for sick kids. You know what would work better than that? Devoting more tax dollars to sick kids rather than subsidizing Vikings fans in Burnsville.

“The Super Bowl won’t bring anything to our city other than headaches.”

Again, saying it or believing it doesn’t make it true. A Super Bowl would bring tens of millions to the local economy.

Superbowls have costs and benefits. Just look at what the last Superbowl did for Minnesota’s economy! Wait a second. We didn’t hear much about what it did for our economy during the last stadium debate. Strange, eh? By the way, have you watched that halftime show?

“Neighbors of the new stadium, who will live near an empty, hulking behemoth for about 350 days a year.”

I’m pretty sure of two things: (1) These people knew about the stadium before moving across from it and (2) no one forced them to do so.

At least he’s willing to admit that NFL stadiums do nothing for a neighborhood.

“Rich out-of-staters like the Wilfs don’t deserve to be further enriched on the public spigot.”

Yes, because they’re the first out-of-state entity ever to receive a subsidy. Sheesh. At least the public will get a return on this one.

I saw a lot of “The government wastes money on all kinds of things, so us Vikings fans deserve our share of waste too!” arguments during the stadium debate. As you can imagine, they normally came from people who consider helping people with nothing wasteful government spending.

Again, it’s amazing that the StarTribune would publish an op-ed with an unsubstantiated claim like “At least the public will get a return on this one.” That doesn’t seem to pass the reality check. Perhaps the StarTribune was thinking of their own return when they read that?

“Most Minnesotans didn’t want this stadium.”

Again, simply not true. A vast majority didn’t want to lose the Vikings. The issue was how to pay for the stadium, not whether it was needed or wanted. The majority favored a penny-a-drink tax or some other common-sense, statewide solution.

The vast majority of of Minnesotans didn’t want to lose the Vikings until asked to pay to keep them. Were Vikings fans knocking on doors at the state capital offering to help pay for it? Nope. They were lobbying to have other people cover the costs for something they claimed to value.

I, like most Minnesotans, would probably support a penny-a-drink tax if it went toward improving the education of young Vikings fans so they don’t grow up to think that subsidizing the NFL is the government’s role.

“I’ll remember that stadium when I spend my money and when I vote.”

The same thing was said about the gutsy people who made Target Field happen, and they subsequently were re-elected. Target Field is a gem and a smashing success, regardless of whether the same can be said of the team that plays there.

A case can be made that some Minneapolis city council members lost their seats due to the stadium vote. RT Rybak said that, rather than holding a referendum on the Vikings stadium – as required by the Minneapolis city charter – voters should use the next mayoral election as their referendum. Then he decided not to run again for mayor. And, the city voted for a candidate who voted against the stadium while a candidate who voted for the stadium finished way back.

As was suggested by the comment by US Bancorp President and CEO Richard Davis that led to Friday’s letter, it’s time to get over it. Or at least bring facts to the argument.

He brings up a good point. Bring facts to the argument. That could have been done in that op-ed but he through out easily challenged statements instead.

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