ECM Editorial: Time is now to vote on stadium

Minnesotans say they treasure the Minnesota Vikings football team, but they don’t want to help pay for a new stadium to keep them.

That’s the dilemma for the Minnesota Legislature that keeps stalling, hoping they can put this decision off until after the November elections.

Meanwhile, the Vikings insist they want a new $975 million stadium and are willing to pay more than $427 million of the cost, as long as someone else pays the remaining $548 million.

The central question, however, is not how to pay for it and where to put it.  The bottom-line is: how important is the Viking team to the quality of life of Minnesotans?

If the consensus of the people is to keep the Vikings because they add so much value to the state’s quality of life, then all the people should help pay for a new stadium that will keep them here.

This burden should not fall on Minneapolis residents alone through the array of taxes they pay now for facilities like Target Field, the Minneapolis Convention Center and Target Center. Nor should it fall on only those who would pay for electronic pull-tabs, as proposed in the latest stadium plan.

The latest plan calls for a $975 million stadium east of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. It would be financed by $427 million by the Vikings, $150 million by Minneapolis through sales and luxury taxes and $398 million by state-run electronic-pull-tabs.

This plan still has to be approved by a reluctant Minnesota Legislature and Minneapolis City Council, who fear the backlash from those who question the Vikings deal when compared to the state’s need to close a budget deficit, to pay for $2.1 billion in withheld payments to school districts and to fund human services.

Since this issue has dragged on for 10 years and a plan has been put together for the Legislature, this is the session to vote it up or down. Waiting won’t lead to a better solution.

Minnesotans want to believe the Vikings will never leave for a city with a modern stadium.  Don’t they recall how the state lost its NBA franchise the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles and the Minnesota North Stars NHL hockey team to Dallas?

Have they forgotten how the state fought and regained new hockey and basketball franchises by having to build Target Center and the Xcel Center?

A major policy question is: should the state continue to fund entertainment venues for its residents with local and state taxes?

Why not? There’s state and local tax dollars in the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Target Field in Minneapolis, the National Sports Center in Blaine, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Mall of America in Bloomington and the TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

The most recent case of public financing is Target Field in Minneapolis where there is a 0.15 per cent sales tax paying two-thirds of the cost. People are raving about this stadium, even as they help pay for it when they buy something in Hennepin County.

A consensus is developing that keeping the Vikings maintains the state’s quality of life and a stadium plan is on the table. Let’s vote.

— An editorial from the ECM Publishers Editorial Board. The Post Review is part of ECM Publishers, Inc.

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