Once again the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium issue is hanging by a political thread. It seems as though some legislators are concerned that if electronic pull tabs do not raise enough money to cover the state’s $398 million obligation for the proposed $975 million Minneapolis stadium, that Minnesota taxpayers would be left holding the bag. Now is the right time to be concerned about that possibility, not after the state signs a contract with the Vikings.
Friday’s deadline at the Legislature placed the future of the stadium in question. House Speaker Kurt Zellers was non-committal when asked if he would do what it takes to keep the stadium issue alive. It seems that this lack of visible support by the Speaker of the House has left the whole stadium issue in limbo. That coupled with the fact that lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for this session in a month has caused concern among Vikings’ management.
“Zellers said the stadium proposal is seriously flawed, but he added it was ‘way to early’ to declare the project politically dead at the Capitol this year,” the Maple Grove lawmaker told the Star Tribune.
Zellers’ lack of enthusiasm did not cast a net of enthusiasm among stadium supporters.
What’s the main sticking point? Is it a guarantee not to use taxpayer funds? No, but it seems to be the major sticking point. It is a point that must be clarified before settling on this major spending bill.
However, there are other problems facing the bill’s passage. There is a lack of enthusiasm on the Minneapolis City Council. It has been reported that a majority of that city’s councilmembers oppose kicking in $150 million. That’s a point that must be considered before continuing at the state level.
It might be wise for all parties to step back from the whole proposal and take the time to truly calculate the cost of supporting a private business in such an expenditure when the finances of the state and most municipalities are not on a sound financial footing.
If the city of Minneapolis and the state legislative bodies are not supporting the construction of a new stadium at the site of the Metrodome, then put it on hold until there is sufficient backing to build a football stadium, whether in Minneapolis, Arden Hills, Shakopee or Duluth.
If it’s just political posturing, then pull back. Let the politicians haggle over the funding sources. It’s better to evaluate every aspect of this spending measure than realizing a mistake was made and have to ask the taxpayers of Minnesota to support a tax increase a few years down the road.