Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Mar
2012
29

Majority of Minneapolis City Council Approves Portion of Bill to Pay for New Vikings Stadium



Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has announced that he has the support of a majority of the Minneapolis City council to go forward with approval of their portion of a larger bill that would have the city, state, and Minnesota Vikings franchise collectively pay for a new football stadium. The state legislature has been waiting to see how the situation in Minneapolis develops before continuing with a bill, already in the system, during the small amount of time left in Minnesota’s legislative session. Speaking with Governor Mark Dayton at a press conference, Mayor Rybak said, “Is it time to build it? I think it is.”

“And if we can now get the Legislature to move, that will mean we can finally go forward with a stadium that will be a home for the Vikings, for professional soccer, for amateur sports, and will finally put more than 7,500 people to work.”

After crafting a plan that would pay the city’s upfront share of $150 million by reallocating funds from a pre-existing sales tax, the city council is now on board although the language of the bill was meant to circumvent city charter language that calls for voter approval of any stadium spending over $10 million.

The legislature, which is having some trouble gaining majority support, plans to pay their $398 million share by expanding gambling to include electronic versions of the pull tabs sold by charities throughout the state. But those charities are upset with their share of the projected profits and some politicians are unwilling to gamble that a contentious income source like gambling will bring in the exact amount needed.

Republican Rep. Joe Hoppe, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said despite his support for the stadium he is against the “backup fund” desired by some legislators on the fence.

“I have always liked suite taxes and ticket taxes,” Hoppe said. “People look at their tickets and know right what the money’s for, and I think people are generally supportive of that.”

The team, which would pay a $427 million upfront stake, needs to get their stadium situation in order soon or find a new place to play. A new stadium would keep the Vikings in Minnesota for the next three decades. The alternative is the Vikings being lured to Los Angeles to play at the proposed Farmer’s Field which, like the Vikings proposed stadium will be built under a Project Labor Agreement that would bring 20,000 construction jobs to Southern California.

Farmers Field, which was approved by a unanimous vote of the Los Angeles City Council last year, would be privately funded and operated by the entertainment conglomerate AEG after repaying $195 million in initial city bonds. The PLA put in place for Farmer’s Field would guarantee local hire and embolden union apprenticeship programs in the area. It would provide economic stimulus to the area and spur growth due to rising property values.

In response, Piedmont Brown, President of the Ironworkers of Los Angeles, said that development around the stadium would also be a jobs engine.

“If that stadium goes, that’s going to be a lot of valuable property … you’re going to get 10 more hotels,” Brown said.

Brown also said the NFL would be a big draw for sports enthusiasts’ eager for the return of professional football.

“People are hungry for a football stadium here,” he said. “After you build the facility, people are going to continue to come and the revenue is going to continue to go in a more positive direction,” he continued.

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