Thursday, May 05, 2011

Hennepin County Says "Thanks, But No Thanks" to Vikings

From the jump here, let me apologize for the sullen silence of this here blog.  It feels like if I'm not posting a Thursday Old School Video, or complaining about the NFL Ownership, or the Vikings Stadium deal, I'm not posting anything.  But the NBA doesn't do much for me these days, and whilst I could write a post about how the Twins need to get healthy, it seems like that is rather unnecessary.  (The Twins desperately need to get healthy though.)  Even the UEFA Champions League has been rather moribund, though that Final--Barcelona vs. Manchester United--is the stuff of soccer dreams, hopefully (May 28th!).

That's my mea culpa--let's get back to bitching about the Vikings stadium deal.

Star Tribune reporter Kevin Duchschere posted an article just a couple of hours ago stating that Hennepin County has pulled themselves out of consideration for the opportunity to spend $300 million dollars they don't have to build their "share" of a new Vikings stadium.

It still strikes me odd that a "no" from Hennepin County doesn't rule out Minneapolis altogether.  The City of Minneapolis could still be in the running, but they prefer the Metrodome site, which opens up all sorts of uncomfy questions about where the Vikings would play for the 2 years it would take to rip down the Dome and build a new stadium on top of its ugly, ugly Teflon bones.

The reason County Commissioner Mike Opat gives, as quoted by the Star Trib in a letter to Governor Dayton, is simple and logical, and again makes me wonder what the Vikings are thinking, when they think this is the time to ask for $600,000,000 in public money:  "In this time of severe cuts proposed to local governments and to the services we provide, it is too burdensome for Hennepin County to act as a local partner for the Vikings stadium."

That wording seems important to me--and something other possible partners (the aforementioned City of Minneapolis, and Ramsey County) need reminding of--when coming up with your budgets, keep in mind that those locales can not count on the same kind of State support that they have gotten in the past, because the Minnesota State Legislature is being run by a bunch of idiots, who are probably cutting services, whilst calling a great writer who has lived here for years "pencil-necked weasel" that they "hate".  Seriously, that happened.

(seriously, have you read American Gods?  Do so.  And thank me at your leisure)

But Opat seems to be rather explicitly reminding the other civic entities in the running for the Vikings stadium that when they budget that $300 million to pay into the kitty that they are also facing budget shortfalls across their entire swath of services to, you know, non-billionaires.    And the City of Minneapolis agrees, actually.  The same article says, "Rybak has said Minneapolis doesn't have the resources to finance one-third of a new stadium, as the current bill requires of a local partner."

So, consider:  local partners threatening to drop out over their presumed price tag.  That's assuming that a pretty unpopular bill in the legislature in which the State of Minnesota puts up another third even passes (unlikely!).  There have been plenty of other hints (or flat-out statements) from potential partners that the Vikings need to pony up more than one-third of the money.  Hennepin County is now out; Minneapolis doesn't sound too psyched, and the Ramsey County location has a ton of issues that go far beyond the price tag.

Clearly, if the Vikings have almost $20 million to dump into Brett Favre's inglorious last year in the league, they should be able to take out a loan that pays $20 million a year for 30 years into their new super awesome stadium.  That right there is $600 million.  And if they can't commit to a mortgage like that, why should the taxpayers of Minnesota?  Sounds like if the Vikings are serious about staying here, they need to up their willingness to show it.  If not, take that mythical free stadium in LA, and enjoy.

1 comment:

Andrew Wice said...

I read & enjoyed "American Gods." It is inappropriate to hate Neil Gaiman.

Can anyone explain why the Vikes need a "new" stadium? Can't they just add the luxury boxes etc they need to the Metrodome?

When my pen runs out of ink, I buy more ink ... not a new pen.