Tom Bakk on Racino and Vikings Stadium Plans

Back on October 11th, Senate Minority Leader, Tom Bakk (DFL – Cook), talked about the state of a racino and Vikings stadium plan on Capitol Report. I’ve trimmed the episode down to those two topics:

What I find most interesting in Bakk’s comments (at 2:45) is that he thinks it’s important to get a Vikings stadium deal done before we know how crappy the state’s revenue situation will be. In a nutshell, he infers that the budget is going to suck, so we need to spend money that we don’t have now, because we won’t be able to justify it later.

Bakk’s comments on gambling are also quite strange. He says that he opposes a racino because he’s against gaming. However, this is the same Tom Bakk who’s willing to more than double the amount of gambling in the state and earmark the money to Wilf, as the StarTribune pointed out on November 1st:

Bakk said he won’t support a broader gambling expansion, but he supports the pull tab idea to help pay for a stadium and provide some relief for charities.

“We already have bingo, so big deal,” Bakk said. “The charities need some help and this is a gambling proposal I support.”

He “doen’t believe the state should be in the gambling business because it sends a poor message to young people”. But the reason the pulltab industry wants to expand gambling using electronic pulltabs is because they are convinced that it will increase the amount of gambling by . . . young people. MPR addressed that:

Charitable gambling advocates want to see more players like Luke Meyer, hoping interest from the “younger generation” can reverse the downward trend. And technology is the key, they said.

Allied Charities of Minnesota will lobby state legislators this spring to pass initiatives allowing electronic pulltabs and bingo, Wilson said. He said the current games are “not as interesting to a younger generation of players.”

Bakk does a nice job sticking to Vikings stadium #wilfare talking points, such as talking about the percentage of revenue the Vikings are putting in compared to the Vikings. While it’s true that the Vikings are offering a larger percentage of the total stadium costs, they are demanding far more in actual public dollars than the Twins did, since the Twins stadium cost half of what Zygi Wilf wants to spend to build a 21,000 car parking lot plus stadium in Arden Hills.

It’s good to hear Bakk admit that borrowing $650,000,000, then forcing the public to make debt payments on that over 30 years for the benefit of a private business that’s open 10 days per year is not popular. And, he admits that professional sports business models are broken if they have to rely upon hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to make their models work. But, he loses me when he suggests that it’s up to the public to make up for the shortcomings in the NFL/Vikings’ business model.

One thing Bakk doesn’t bother to do is suggest is asking the fans to contribute toward stadium costs. IF season ticket holders aren’t willing to help pay for a stadium, why should the general public? Until Bakk and other legislators ask something – anything – of Vikings fans, we haven’t seen real leadership toward making those who’d benefit most from a stadium pay their fair share.

11 thoughts on “Tom Bakk on Racino and Vikings Stadium Plans”

  1. Did you see the new story about the clause in the lease that might require the Vikes to play an additional season at the Dome?

  2. If Mondale and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission decide to press this clause, it’s the equivalent of a session of 3-Card Monte. If I were the Vikings, I would conclude they’re not negotiating in good faith.

  3. Sounds like the MSFC has made concessions to the Vikings in the past. In this case, they are simply expecting the Vikings to live up to the terms of the contract they signed. That seems like a good faith negotiating on behalf of the MSFC to me. The Vikings? Not so much.

  4. Looks like concession days are over. Maybe the Legislature’s looking for some way to kick this down the road for another year. I can’t see how Wilf wouldn’t see them pulling out this part of a lease and holding it over his head because it snowed too much as an rank insult. I’ve said it before, if I were Wilf, I’d call a presser Monday and say I’m entertaining offers from other cities. I think a pro football team is more marketable commodity, with more ROI, government or private than, say, U.S. made solar panels — which must have seemed like a good idea for federal loans to somebody. I’ll find another state economy to singlehandedly invest $400 mlllion or so and a pro football team. Minnesota? — they can have their several hundred acres of Superfund site. They should clean it up, though. It’s disgusting.

  5. @Rat, the MSFC didn’t just POP this out this week. The end of the StarTribune story states that the Vikings were reminded about this a month ago in writing.

  6. It’s not like the Vikings had a choice after the roof collapsed to play in the Dome or not, or the team sought to play elsewhere fpr no reason. I still think enforcing this clause through an unforeseen circumstance like a snowstorm is an end-run by the MSFC to force them into another year of the lease and not really bargaining in good faith. This can be successfully challenged.

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