Clock ticking for the Vikings | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Clock ticking for the Vikings

OTHER OPINION: STADIUM

Posted: April 11, 2011 - 8:10pm

After a decade of debate, the Vikings stadium proposal will likely be decided — or mostly decided — this legislative session.

It’s a debate that needs resolution.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, has taken the lead on the plan and is to officially introduce it to lawmakers. The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome is coming to an end and the team says it will not renew it without a stadium deal in place.

The outline of the bill includes a new stadium with a roof and a projected $900 million price tag. The state would provide up to $300 million from an assortment of new fees and taxes.

The bill appears to have the key elements that may provide for grudging support from many lawmakers and the public.

Most important is what the bill doesn’t have — money from the general budget.

The public share of costs instead would come from a variety of fees, including a sports memorabilia tax, stadium naming rights, a lottery game, a pro football player income tax surcharge and a luxury box tax.

It would also provide for the local governments where the stadium is located to levy a local half-cent sales tax to cover more costs.

Placing more of the financial burden on the counties contiguous to a new stadium makes sense. They, not businesses or taxpayers in Duluth or Marshall, will most benefit from a new stadium.

The legislation as written won’t be the final framework. Negotiations will now begin and different ideas for public funding will be proposed.

Many taxpayers are justifiably reluctant to help a billionaire pay for a stadium, no matter how much they may like the Vikings. But most also agree that losing the team would be a significant blow to the state.

But the eleventh hour is here and lawmakers need to make the tough choice on whether they will or won’t support a new stadium.

—  The Free Press