The Vikings Stadium Debate Rolls On #Wilfare

The number of words being generated on the web regarding the stadium debate is reaching an all-time high. If Zygi Wilf was only able to extract a dollar per word from authors, he may have his profit margins fully subsidized by now.

Here are a few of the more interesting things I’ve seen lately:

The Pioneer Press has published a series of short videos from an interview with Ramsey County Commissioner, Tony Bennett where he tries to explain why the heck Ramsey County residents should be their county’s future on a business that’s only open 8 days a year. It doesn’t go well. Here is one quote from Commissioner Bennett from that piece (click here to watch the full video series):

“Unfortunately, when they drew the lines for counties, Ramsey County is the smallest county of 87. It is the second large in population with over a half million people. Hennepin County – you could put probably 6 or 7 Ramsey Counties inside of Hennepin County. They have the population. They were able to do the Twin deal; same amount – roughly the same amount of money total, but for 0.15 vs .5% [in additional sales taxes for 30 years]. In order for us to come up with that kind of money for bonding, which is roughly $28 million per year for 30 years, we need to do a 1/2 cent sales tax.”

Keep in mind that Vikings fans like to talk about how the team brings in $20 million per year to the state. Now, notice that Bennett explains that the cost to Ramsey County would be $28 million per year. That’s just the cost to Ramsey County. That’s not even counting the annual cost to the state to pay interest on the $300 million Wilf is demanding from the state to help subsidize his business’ profit margins. has an interesting look at extracting money from gamblers, then diverting it to the Vikings to help improve Zygi Wilf’s profit margins. The article brings up some interesting points:

Such a move could bring in an additional $230 million a year in charitable donations a year, advocated claim.

Money that likely would have been spent in the state anyway is spent on gambling. That’s not new money for the state. It’s just a different revenue source.

Younger people respond more positively to electronic versions of pull-tabs, for instance, than pull-tabs in traditional paper form, advocates argue.

Ah, we’re not extracting enough gambling revenue from younger people. Something needs to be done about that. Especially if it means that we can redistribute money from young people to help improve Zygi Wilf’s profit margins.

Beyond this, making these electronic games available would help the tavern industry, hurt by the recent state-wide smoking ban, advocates claim.

We really do need to get around to replacing one unhealthy addiction with another in the State of Minnesota. Especially if doing so allows us to divert money from gambling addicts to an NFL franchise owner to help him improve his profit margins.

Republican state Senators David Hann and Dave Thompson made some news by going on record that they can live with the Vikings leaving if Zygi Wilf decides that Minnesota isn’t the place for him if the public won’t borrow $650,000,000 to help him increase the profitability of his NFL franchise:

“We don’t want them to leave, but if they’re going to leave I guess that is going to happen,” said Sen. David Hann, a Republican who led a news conference by a bipartisan group of lawmakers fighting efforts to expand gambling to help pay for a new stadium. The lawmakers said their opposition extends to using all forms of taxpayer money.

Added GOP Sen. Dave Thompson, an assistant majority leader: “I have to do what I believe is right. I wouldn’t be making the Vikings leave. It would be the ownership of the Vikings making a decision to leave if they do and the NFL allowing them because they don’t get what they want.”

Charles Mahrohn at Strong Towns Blog makes a very strong case for while it’s idiotic for the public to subsidize a stadium plan that wouldn’t leverage the public’s previous and current investments in roads, bus routes, LRT and train lines:

Here’s my question: where’s the public’s return? Minnesotans have made these investments counting on the private sector coming in and capitalizing on them. If we don’t get billions of dollars of new private sector investment around these light rail lines, how are we going to make that public investment pay off? If we don’t fill in these empty or low-use lots we have and get all our vacant condos and retail space in productive use, how are we going to afford to maintain all this stuff we’ve already built?

Spending public dollars to divert private-sector resources to a remote location while leaving a huge hole in the middle of billions of dollars of prior public investment would not just be counterproductive, it would be an enormous self-inflicted wound. If the private sector wants to invest private money to develop the Arden Hills site, there should be no objections. For public dollars, however, we need to be far more judicious.

Thomas M. Mengler from the St. Thomas School of Law took at look at the social costs of extracting money from the poor to help subsidize the profit margins of an NFL franchise owner in a recent piece in the StarTribune:

How ironic that a short distance from the Occupy MN protests, some government leaders have launched into high gear to approve a supposed revenue stream that respected empirical studies suggest will be anything but.

These several studies indicate that a downtown casino could disproportionately burden the city’s poor, increase felony crime and impose greater costs, not increased revenues, on the city, the county and Minnesota.

If support for this casino is linked to a new Vikings stadium, then the working and jobless poor will pay much more than their fair share for professional football.

He went on to mention:

Gamblers with annual incomes less than $10,000 spent almost three times as much on gambling as those with incomes of more than $50,000.

What’s bad for the poor is very good for Zygi Wilf’s profit margins.

Brad Parker at LA Progressive points out that the downtown Los Angeles stadium group, AEG, is just a bit to the right politically. As in Phillip Anschutz or Anschutz Entertainment Group is the 34th richest guy in the USA, an active funder of gay discrimination, an anti-science intelligent design supporter, and an oil man who sits on the board of the American Petroleum Institute, who works to keep our air polluted, ozone levels high, and children’s asthma at all time highs:

Beyond all of that lies the larger looming and most perplexing question of why are Los Angeles and California Big Wigs in the Democratic Party so anxious to get further into bed with Tea Bagger Billionaire Philip Anschutz and his AEG corporate colossus?

Has it been lost on them that Anschutz, along with his Billionaire Boyfriends, the Koch Bros., is actively supplying millions of dollars of his personal fortune to destroy the Democratic Party and the United States Government? And adding insult to injury, that Anschutz derives a large portion of those heinous funds from his ownership interests in L.A. Live and Staples Arena? Now that, dear readers, is a “Deal with the Devil!”

Considering that Zygi Wilf tends to contribute to left leaning candidates for office, including Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Paul Wellstone, it doesn’t seem like Wilf would want a guy like Anschutz as a landlord. By the way, the Los Angeles plan calls for a privately financed stadium where the private company, AEG, would dictate many of the terms to the NFL franchise owner. For example, AEG already has a stadium corporate sponsor lined up, unlike the deal here where Wilf is demanding that the public build a stadium that the public would own, yet he would still profit from the naming rights.

The Dakota County Tribune got a take from Republican state Rep. Pat Garafalo regarding how much of a priority using the public’s money to subsidize an NFL franchise owner’s profit margins is to him:

In general, the lawmakers are not keen on Gov. Mark Dayton’s idea of calling a special session in November to address the Vikings’ stadium.

House K-12 Finance Committee Chairman Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, views the state budget as taking priority over stadiums and indicated the latter could wait to be addressed until lawmakers return to the State Capitol in January.

Garafalo was easy on Wilf compared to Mary Kiffmeyer:

“The state doesn’t have $300 million sitting around in a slush fund for use for anything,” said Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, referring to the amount of state contribution the various stadium proposals anticipate.

The National Football League is big business, Kiffmeyer argued, questioning whether the state should get involved at all in a private business.

“By the way, we’re talking about millionaires and billionaires here,” she said of the big money people involved in the NFL.

Kiffmeyer views Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf as not yet putting up enough of his own money for a new stadium.

And, finally, Minneapolis’s 2nd Ward City Councilmember, Cam Gordon, wrote an excellent blog post explaining his take on public funding for an NFL stadium:

Stadiums are not effective ways to create jobs or economic development. They are not good long term investments – just look at the continuing drag the Target Center places on the City. They are not good ways to improve underdeveloped parts of our city – just look at the sea of surface parking lots surrounding the Metrodome.

The whole thing is worth a read. Here is one more exerpt that hits on the twisted priorities politicians are taking by even considering using public money to subsidize Zygi Wilf’s NFL Franchise’s profit margins when there are real problems to solve with any public dollars we can find:

If there’s an openness to new revenues, there are 50 things I’d rather fund than a new football stadium. We are laying off essential City staff. A significant number of the staff who have done the real work to move forward the Homegrown Minneapolis initiative – one of the Mayor’s top public policy priorities – face layoffs, potentially limiting the amount of progress we can make in the next few years. We’re laying off firefighters. We might be pulling back from support for necessary and valuable programs like Restorative Justice and the Domestic Abuse Project (the Mayor’s proposed budget zeroes out both programs). The Police Department’s Crime Prevention Specialists – a real commitment the City currently has to community policing – are at risk. Our efforts to fight homelessness are being completely swamped by the need generated by the Great Recession.

And, before Vikings #Wilfare fans once again accuse me of being anti-Vikings, let’s keep this in mind:

@nikblondiew If that fan base pooled their money, they could pay for the stadium. Checks for $11,000 each would do it. #vikings #wilfare

If Vikings fans, including the more than 50,000 season ticket holders, aren’t willing to write checks to help Zygi Wilf pad his NFL franchise’s profit margins, why should the public?

If season ticket holders would stop being so cheap, Zygi Wilf could break ground on his dream of having a 21,000 car parking lot in Arden Hills where he could charge exorbitant parking rates to the Vikings fans that helped make Wilf’s dream come true.

3 thoughts on “The Vikings Stadium Debate Rolls On #Wilfare”

  1. I was pleased yesterday to hear Governor Dayton say that there will be no local taxation in Ramsey County without a referendum. I’m sure this was a body blow to Commisioners Bennett and Ortega who were so eagar to sell their community out to Wilf and the rest of the NFL rich boys club.

    Hopefully my neighbors in their districts will cause their heartbreak to end by kicking their butts out of office next time around…they deserve nothing less for trying to “better” their community by selling it out.

    As the debate rolls on, though, I struggle with the other options on the table. I would like the Vikings to stick around, and I recognize that some (hopefully minimal) amount of public money will need to be spent to do so. The idea of a sales tax in Ramsey County was, obviously, disgusting. While sales taxes are based on consumption they are also horribly regressive and disproportionately affect poor people. I appreciate you bringing that up here, and I’m very happy that it’s (apparently, hopefully, fingers crossed) off the table once and for all.

    But the casino issue is another thing for me. Why? Mainly because spending money at a casino is a choice. I am, of course, discounting the other issues like policing, court costs, treatment programs, and all that. But at the core, a person either chooses to gamble or they don’t.

    While the facts and studies are clear that lower income people spend a greater amount of their income on gambling and are hurt more by addictions, I can’t make the choice for them to gamble or not gamble. If they choose to gamble, that is fundmentally their choice. Yes, it might affect me indirectly through extra community service expenses, etc, but it’s not my choice and I can’t stop them. Eliminating the option just because it might hurt them more than it hurts me feels very…I don’t know…heavy-handed. Like saying “you are not smart enough to save yourself here”.

  2. Let’s say we agree on the choice issue and therefore we both feel that a casino is an appropriate source of government revenue. Even then, why is that revenue exclusively designated for Zygi Wilf?

    If we’re going to approve the creation of a new revenue stream, then that revenue ought to be sent back to the state’s general fund. Instead, Zygi wants this money earmarked for him before the Vikes put a shovel in the ground.

  3. @Jeff….totally agree with you.

    Send it to the general fund, then make a choice on how to spend it. Everyone knows we have a lot more pressing priorities than building a stadium for a guy from Jersey.

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