Vikings Stadium Funding Proposal: Collect Taxable Scalping Revenue

I’m pro-Vikings stadium, but anti-corporate welfare, so I’m trying to figure out a creative way to help get a new stadium built for the Purple. Here’s one idea: tax the revenue generated fro scalped tickets.

For example, 2011-12 season tickets run between $28-$128/game. But, here is what great seats (the ones closer to $128 each) are currently going for on StubHub.com:

Vikings vs Lions StubHub Prices

Some quick math tells me that $290 is more than $128. That one screenshot shows 43 seats selling for nearly $7,000 above face value. That’s 43 out of 5,969 tickets currently on sale for that game. Which game? The Detroit Lions!

Here’s the deal: Seats like the ones listed above are often purchased by businesses, then deducted from taxes as an entertainment expense. It’s yet another way that Zygi Wilf’s welfare queen enterprise is subsidized by the state and federal governments. But, I have a decent hunch that the tickets sold on StubHub are often NOT reported as income.

It doesn’t seem like it would be particularly difficult to determine who is scalping tickets they’ve taken tax deductions on. And, it seems like StubHub would make it pretty darn easy to figure out how much unreported income is being generated on those no-longer-entertainment-expensable tickets.

Well, Vikings fans, what do you think? Could we find a few million dollars a year by going after sports tax cheats?

This seems like something true Vikings fans, like Cory Merrifield at SaveTheVikes.org would support, since true Vikings fans use their tickets themselves rather than selling them on StubHub.

The one downside to this is that the tax cheating isn’t really a Vikings stadium issue but a general fund issue, so we really should try cleaning up this mess to improve our state’s budget, THEN talk about whether corporate welfare for Zygi Wilf’s is justifiable.

Zygi Wilf Wants Welfare Queen Equality #vikings

It’s great to hear the Minnesota Vikings’ Zygi Wilf admit that it’s more important for him to receive welfare than it is for the citizens of the State of Minnesota to have a say in whether Zygi qualifies for welfare.

Well, I guess he didn’t exactly say that. Instead, he said that Ramsey County should cover his welfare checks in the same way that Hennepin County covers the Twins’ welfare checks:

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said the same should occur for the Vikings’ stadium proposal. “We would like to be held on the same playing field as the Twins,” Wilf said to reporters after a very brief question-and-answer session with audience members at the St. Paul Rotary luncheon.

Asked if he thought a referendum would fail, Wilf said he couldn’t say.

And, Wilf wouldn’t say whether taxpayers would go along with his personal welfare proposal because he didn’t want to go on record as THAT much of a welfare queen. There are times when it’s better to keep your mouth shut.

But, Rochelle Olson did manage to get Ramsey County Commissioner, Tony Bennett, to go on the record with a referendum prediction in the very next paragraph of her article:

But Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett told the 100-plus Rotarians at the luncheon that any referendum, including the sales tax for a stadium, would fail “in this climate.”

To me, it sounds like Commissioner Bennett is saying, “Sure, Zygi Wilf is a welfare queen, but he’s OUR welfare queen. Sure, he lives in New Jersey, but we should STILL force taxpayers to subsidize his private entertainment business. Sure, there are other locally owned businesses, actual general welfare issues like education, healthcare, and bridge maintenance that we could better invest our limited resources in, but Zygi really wants our money so we should give it to him.”

It makes me wonder who Tony Bennett is really representing in this attempt to redistribute wealth to outstate wealthy.

Fund Vikings Stadium with Vikings Gambling?

Deets commenter, eric z, has come up with a creative way to get Vikings fans to pay for their own stadium: Let them gamble in their seats:

My stadium proposal is more modest than putting public money into it directly, or allowing Racino and putting proceeds into it as indirectly subsidizing it.

Wholly private sector – free market. Let Zygi build it, his dime, but then let him make book on NFL games, among those attending. He could have quarter by quarter betting on the Vikes home games, or possession by possession. A trifecta if you get the scores correct at end of each of the first three quarters.
Net yardage difference on a pair of changes of possession, with the house taking all if either team scores a touchdown or field goal.

During the week betting on injured players. Odds of a Harvin headache being a heartbreak, etc. Betting on whether the photos were really of Favre.

In half a year The Z’d recoup his costs of building the stadium, and he could make a fortune subleasing or franchising his enfranchised bookie rights to the tribes. They could even name him an honorary tribal member – something few New Jersey natives achieve in Minnesota.

Eric may be on to something there. If gambling is the only way to extract cash from the public for Zygi Wilf’s corporate welfare project, extracting that from gambling Vikings fans makes sense.

Vikings Stadium Corporate Welfare and Klout Scores: @savethevikesorg

Over the past month, I’ve been kicking out some Tweets about the Vikings Stadium corporate welfare proposals that folks like Save the Vikings are pushing. Stuff like this:

Zygi Wilf's Corporate Welfare

Over that time, I’ve noticed that Klout has found me more Klout worthy. For those of you not familiar with Klout, it’s a site that tries to quantify if anyone is paying attention to your tweets. For example, here is a comparison of my Klout score vs. @savethevikesorg. I’m in red and @savethevikesorg is in blue:

Comparing Klout Scores with @savethevikesorg

Next is the Klout Network comparison, which is a measure of how influential the people are who follow you:

Klout Network Comparison @savethevikesorg

Next is Klout Amplification, which looks at how often people retweet what you tweet, together with how influential the people who retweet you are:

Klout Amplification Comparison with @savethevikesorg

And, finally, True Reach, which takes a shot at measuring how many people are actually paying attention to what you’re tweeting about:

True Reach Comparison with @savethevikesorg

I don’t have a solid explanation for why my Klout is increasing while Vikings Stadium corporate welfare lobbyist, Cory Merrifield’s in dropping, but I’m willing to take a guess:

  • As people become more aware of the possible cuts to higher education, special education, and healthcare, spending public dollars on a stadium for a private company makes less and less sense.
  • As the public prepares for a state government shutdown, providing corporate welfare to a guy in New Jersey is the least of their concerns.
  • As the public learns that the seating capacity for the general public would be nearly the same in a new stadium, while the tax deductible suites for corporations would increase from 98 to between 120-150, they start to wonder why they should be paying for this rather than the Vikings or the corporations who’ll benefit most.
  • When the public ponders paying to build 21,000 parking spaces in the suburbs for use 8 times a year, they start to wonder what’s happened to our government’s fiscal responsibility.

It’s certainly not a lack of passion that’s hurting the Vikings Stadium corporate welfare lobbyists. It comes down to public priorities vs. private greed.

Update: A Twitter user going by the handle @VikingsStadium1 thinks this post sucks:

@VikingsStadium1 on Deets Post

Coincidentally, that Twitter user has a relatively new account and has described themselves as “not Kevin” if you know what I mean.

An Honest Conservative Viewpoint on Vikings Stadium Welfare

Here is an example of a conservative opinion with the intelectual honesty to call the Vikings stadium welfare proposal what it is. This comes from a discussion on KFAN’s RUBECHAT:

I am conservative and a huge football fan….and am conflicted. Generally speaking, I do not favor the government mixing with private business. The poster that cited studies that building a new stadium is not a great investment….this is true, serious economic studies have this finding. If we wanted to go the socialist rout and have the govt support business (like the Japanese), we would be wise to invest in manufacturing type industries that export out of MN….that is how you get the best bang for your buck.

The stadium is not a great investment economically, but if we build, on principal I think the support for it should come from taxes on the immediate region in which the staduim resides, ideally user tax of some sort. People outside of the metro should not be on the hook for this….unless they go to the game (attend, local hotel, restaurants, parking, etc). By the way, I live in the metro.

1. He admits it’s a bad deal.

2. Explains better investments.

3. Calls taxes taxes rather than PR spinning them as something else.

4. Suggests that he is willing to pay more for a team he supports.

Refreshing stuff.

A @savethevikesorg Communications Failure

Here is an example of the woefully misinformed tweets I’ve been receiving lately from Vikings fanboys:

@Diggz19 On The Vikings Plan

Does this guy really believe what he tweets?

How could he be so misinformed?

I get the impression that @savethevikesorg’s information isn’t getting across to serious Vikings fanboys, who assume that the Zygi Wilf and the Vikings MUST be planning on paying for more of the stadium than they actually are.

This might help explain why some Vikings fans are so confused when I call the current stadium bill corporate welfare. If the plan was simply to LOAN money to Zygi Wilf, I wouldn’t be calling the guy a welfare queen. Sure, the terms may be better than he’d get from banks or private investors (where he’s certainly welcome to go today), but at least the plan would be for him to pay his own way over time.

Sadly, that’s not the plan at all.

Giving a Vikings Corporate Welfare Superfan a Break

There is no question that a dude named Kevin that I’ve recently wrote about on this blog is a huge Vikings fan. In fact, he’s so huge a fan that he’ll literally spend hours and hours trying to convince Vikings stadium corporate welfare skeptics that they’re wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that. I certainly appreciate a good debate.

Kevin got a bit out of control last night. He went beyond debating an issue to downright idiotic ranting. He even bragged that he was doing exactly that to a fellow Vikings corporate welfare fan on Twitter. So, I decided to show off a few examples of just how ridiculous he was being in the wee hours of last night. Examples include irrational financial justifications, incomprehensible rambling, and impersonating me within the comments of my own blog.

Based on the comments I’ve received, some of you think it was childish of me to point out Kevin’s childish behavior. Frankly, that seems kind of strange since the tweets I posted came from his public Twitter account (which he later deleted [The entire account. Not just a few tweets.]).

But, considering that he’s a young dude who’s not officially tied to any of the corporate welfare solicitation organizations like Save The Vikings, I can see how it’s sensible to back off on the bludgeoning.

So, Kevin, have fun on Twitter, but know when to say when.

Vikings Corporate Welfare Questions for @nicolelindaman

I had a change to run a few questions past PR pro and Vikings corporate welfare booster, Nicole Lindaman while I was in Peru. She describes herself on Twitter like this:

Govt./media relations consultant. Conservative. Web designer/social media fan. Avid hunter-sports enthusiast! Consultant for www.savethevikes.org. Go #Vikings!

Being a self-described Conservative, I figured that she would be on board with figuring out non-government financed ways to pay for a new stadium for the Vikings. Here is what I asked:

Asking for a Non-Welfare Stadium Bill

Nicole’s response:

Nicole Lindaman Thinks I'm Talking to Her Like a Liberal

So I looked at the plan. The plan proposes $590 million in taxes to publicly subsidize the $920 million cost for Zygi Wilf’s stadium (that $920 million figure doesn’t account for the cost of road construction associated with this project):

$590 Million in Taxes to Support the Vikings

Now, admittedly, this proposal does not refer to all of those cash extractions from the public as taxes. Some are referred to as fees. Either way, they are ways to extract money from the public to pay for a private business’ infrastructure. Apparently, that’s the key to calling oneself a conservative while proposing new taxes on the public. (BTW, NRSC = National Republican Senatorial Committee.)

So, I asked again:

Requesting non Taxpayer Financed Stadium Bill

She responded:

Nicole Lindaman Doesn't Like Being Called a Welfare Queen

She also responded to this one:

Can You Be Pro Sports Without Being Pro Welfare?

Her response:

Admission that Welfare Is the Answer

I found that refreshing. While Nicole Lindaman claims to be a Conservative, she was willing to admit that welfare for the Vikings may be required to keep the team. It’s a pragmatic approach that solves a want but not a need. However, I wouldn’t call it Conservative to admit that you’re willing to throw public money at a private company that’s perfectly capable of building their own entertainment facilities, or using the one that’s already paid for. Or, does Nicole’s definition of conservative mean picking winners rather than letting the market decide?

We also differentiated on whether the term “welare queen” is an appropriate description for Zygi Wilf, a guy who is begging for $600 million dollars in public financing:

Zygi Wilf Welfare Queen? Yes or No?

I also asked Nicole about taxpayer funding for the stadium. I thought this would be a pretty clear question:

Taxpayer Funding for the Vikings Stadium

She has a kind of a point there. A really sleazy point. Rather than asking the state to raise taxes to pay for a stadium for Zygi Wilf, the Save the Vikings crowd is asking the state to create an entirely new source of revenue: a Racino. Then, the Save the Vikings crowd is asking the state to give the profits from said Racino to the Vikings. See? Not a new tax. It’s simply a redistribution of wealth from the elderly and gambling addicts to Zygi Wilf.

Sure, this same tactic could be used by the state to raise new revenue for the general fund, but the Save the Vikings crowd has decided that they deserve it more than public universities, special education students, and people without health care. This isn’t exactly a lie on Nicole Lindaman’s part. It’s just misleading PR talk.

I learned a bit more about where Nicole Lindaman stands on the issue when she retweeted this Tweet from @savethevikesorg’s Cory Merrifield:

Nicole Lindaman Retweets Pro Racino Position

Again, Nicole Lindaman claims to be a conservative while supporting a position that’s out of line with the MN GOP’s own position on gambling expansion. As a reminder, here is the MN GOP platform’s position on gambling:

Limit the Influence of Gambling in our State
We seek to eliminate all state-sponsored gambling and oppose any expansion of gambling in Minnesota. In regards to casinos already in place, current gambling laws should be changed so that Minnesota is allowed to tax profits and revenue of tribal casino gambling in the state.

Apparently, it’s okay to support gambling in special cases, such as when the money goes to Zygi Wilf and not to Native Americans.

During my conversations with Nicole, I was also tweeting with @mnsotapop, who feels that the public costs of a stadium are justified as long as they publicly subsidize the cost of him bringing his son to a pro football game. I thought that was ridiculous. He asked me what I thought were justifiable public expenses, to which I responded with “healthcare, infrastructure, and education. Not entertainment welfare.” Nicole Lindaman decided to respond to that tweet:

Nicole Lindaman Likes Corporate Welfare More than Healthcare

I responded to that tweet with this:

Health Care vs Corporate Welfare for Zygi Wilf

And that’s the last I heard of Nicold Lindaman.

What did I learn from this? That there are people who are willing to support a millionaire’s dream of becoming a billionaire, no matter what the cost to the average citizen of Minnesota.

No Corporate Welfare for Vikings Stadium @savethevikesorg

It turns out that you can really piss off the corporate welfare crowd with Tweets like this one:

Responding to the Corporate Welfare Crowd

I may be a bit too fiscally conservative for Save The Vikings Lobbyist, Cory Merrifield’s taste. Personally, I think that private companies with access to private capital should rely upon private capital for capital improvement projects rather than bending the public over a barrel.

It would be hard to think of a worse idea that having the public pay for a building that is only useful to one private company. What’s the point in owning such a building? Doesn’t that put the public in a position of being held hostage by a private company?

More succinctly, if spending a billion dollars on a new stadium was a good investment, private investors would be all over the opportunity to be involved. We’re currently living in a time where finding a decent yield on any investment can be difficult. In this climate, if private investors STILL aren’t interested in touching the Vikings stadium deal, you know that the public is being asked to throw money at a horrible financial transaction.

@SaveTheVikesOrg Defends Josh Hewitt #Vikings

Cory Merrifield from @SaveTheVikesOrg is standing up in support of Josh Hewitt:

@SaveTheVikesOrg Defends Josh Hewitt

Here is an example Josh’s work on Facebook where he’s been busy lobbying legislators on supporting corporate welfare for the Vikings. This happens to come from one of Sen. John Pederson’s pages, but the message is fairly consistent wherever Hewitt spams it on behalf of Vikings welfare queens:

Josh Hewitt Lobbying for Corporate Welfare

Apparently, Vikings fans would be devastated if the Vikings left, but no so devastated that they’re willing to use their own money to pay for a new stadium. Instead, Hewitt is lobbying for public dollars to be used for a private sports entertainment enterprise.

Ticket Surcharge?

Vikings fans like Josh Hewitt and Cory Merrifield could cover the cost of the stadium with a ticket surcharge. All they’d have to do is sell 60,000 seats per game for 8 games per year for 25 years with a $50 per ticket surcharge. Surely, fans would be willing to pay that. Right? No? Oh, maybe that explains why Josh Hewitt is lobbying for corporate welfare rather than simply paying the true cost associated with a new stadium.

Recently, Josh Hewitt has switched to more of a hardball approach to corporate welfare begging legislators on Facebook:

Blaming Legislators for Not Supporting Corporate Welfare

You see, under “Save the Vikings” stadium bill logic, if you don’t support giving hundreds of millions of dollars to the Vikings, it will be your fault if they leave.

No, it certainly wouldn’t be the fault of the Vikings, who could potentially find a market more willing to provide a public handout.

It’s absolutely not the fault of Vikings fans who are unwilling to pay ticket prices that would support the Vikings plan.

It’s definitely not the fault of Vikings fans who are unwilling to invest their own private money in this private business.

No, the fault would fall to legislators attempting to show an ounce of fiscal restraint during tough economic times.

At least, that’s my understanding of Save the Vikings corporate welfare logic.

PS: If you’ve read this far, you must be one of my four readers.