Vikings fan in Minnesota have commenced the process of contacting legislators who oppose the effort to build a new stadium. Several fans have forwarded to PFT the responses from the members of the Minnesota House and Senate.
Here’s an email that a reader received from Senator Scott Dibble, a Democrat whose district includes portions of Minneapolis. We present it without comment or reaction, but merely to illustrate the views being articulated by one of the persons who has been asked to come up with a plan — or not — for building a new stadium.
“I share your unease about the Vikings’ threats to leave Minnesota, but I remain concerned about spending scarce public resources on a project that is too expensive, could be largely privately financed, and adds no net new economic activity to our region or state (as has been repeatedly proven by economic studies of sports stadium subsidies),” Sen. Dibble writes. “The Vikings have asked for the single largest taxpayer subsidy for any professional sports stadium in recent U.S. history, while at the same time refusing to disclose financial information that is required of all other projects receiving taxpayer money. Elected officials are accountable to safeguard public dollars, making the Vikings’ refusal to negotiate in a forthright manner unacceptable. This monopoly industry, filled with millionaire players and billionaire owners, should be more forthcoming with all of us if it wants $600 million in public money. We do know is that the Vikings and its owner will receive over $80 million per year just on broadcasting rights. That will jump to over $150 million per year under the contracts that begin in 2014.
“The current price tag of the stadium is too high. A stadium could be built for much less, the Vikings could increase their share of the cost, and the business community could step up to help with financing. Other NFL markets have built stadiums with 70-90% private financing. The proposed stadium in Los Angeles (which is, in fact, many years from being built, if ever) is being 100% privately financed.
“Any scheme that involves expanding gambling of any sort is wholly inadvisable. Minnesota would just be making the same mistake that other states have, creating a new dependence on gambling taxes that have proven to be unreliable and insufficient to offset the added costs from gambling associated social problems and crime. Furthermore, no new net revenue is created from this source. The only economic result is that the already fixed amount of entertainment dollars people spend in our region and state are shifted around.
“I remain a strong supporter of public investments that actually expand prosperity and improve economic productivity: education, early childhood, research, infrastructure, health, the environment, and workforce development. I would be willing to consider a compromise on this matter is if the debate over paying for a stadium would open up the political and policy potential of making investments in those things that would make a real difference for our future.”
We’ll ask the Vikings and the NFL for a response to the email from Senator Dibble, specifically as to the contentions that: (1) the Vikings have refused to disclose financial information; (2) the stadiums that have been built with 70-90 percent private financing.
Regardless of the back-and-forth, the reality is that the situation is being pushed to a head — if enough of the legislators share Senator Dibble’s views, professional football will possibly leave Minnesota.