There are times, when it comes to this Viking Stadium, that I feel like I'm just hollering into a wind. Never mind that I run into a lot of people who feel the same way I do, or that there are lots of blogs who know what crap public financing for stadiums is...the local sports and major media just sees this as something that "has to happen" because if it doesn't, Minnesota will really, really regret it.
I feel like I've clearly made an argument for why a northern suburb stadium site that is currently a SuperFund site, has a total lack of Public Transit and will cost taxpayers over $600 million dollars in various forms is not such a great deal. Let me say that part again--over Half A Billion Dollars from taxpayers from Ramsey County and the State of Minnesota. Not redirected funds. Brand new taxes. And hey, if you are not reading this in Minnesota, you may have forgotten that one of our Goddamn bridges fell over a few years back. Again, as a taxpayer, I'm all for more taxes, if it goes to things like bridges not falling over, or schools not getting shut down. But I'm just a CRAZY LIBERAL. Apparently, the only thing everyone in the sports pages of the Star Tribune wants to be taxed for is a new stadium for their incredibly mediocre football team. And the national media (well, ProFootballTalk) agrees.
A lot of this narrative over the Vikings has been, "Hey, you better give them what they want, because if you don't, that incredibly successful bastard in Los Angeles is going to poach this team from you." The Vikings are apparently going to move to Los Angeles and play in the LA Colosseum until that new kick-ass stadium is built. That's the assumption. Hell, it's taken for granted by places like, again, ProFootballTalk. Here are some not at all biased quotes:
Mike Florio, PFT: "If the Vikings ultimately can’t get a new stadium in Minnesota, it won’t happen because they didn’t try....With the team’s lease at the Metrodome expiring after the 2011 and with L.A. potentially poised to host a team in the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum as soon as 2012, the Vikings could choose to be coy. To their credit, they’re doing what they have to do to ensure that they’ll remain in Minnesota for another 50 years, or more. Whether the folks in Minnesota are willing to do the same thing remains to be seen."
Mike Florio, PFT: "Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins, was built in part through a local contribution that came without a public vote. That key facet of the deal, incorporated into the package by the Legislature, enabled the plan to avoid near-certain doom at the hands of the electorate. A similar strategy is planned for the new Vikings stadium, with a one-half cent sales tax in Ramsey County imposed on the people without the people having any say in the matter. If one key state senator has any say in the matter, that won’t happen...Whether or not this latest development constitutes political gamesmanship, the powers-that-be in Minnesota may soon have to resort to political games on Sundays in the Fall, because there won’t be any pro football games there unless they get this thing figured out."
Not to be overly repetitive, but when the pro-stadium people keep repeating bullshit, I have to repeat the obvious differences--Target Field was roughly HALF the cost of this stadium. It was built in Minneapolis, where bus riders and train riders could get to it. The tax needed for it was a 1/3 of the tax proposed for this Vikings stadium. The Twins are, this year aside, a successful franchise. The Twins didn't float their bill in the midst of an economic crisis. The differences are far more plentiful than the similarities. The one similarity that is accurate is the proportion of public/private financing...in both cases, it is about two to one. Differences include the fact that the Twins are bringing people downtown 81 times a year, and the Vikings are attempting to get people to a SuperFund site, where nothing is, eight times a year, and are asking for more public money than the entire cost of Target Field. Those are Obvious Differences, yeah? Do I need to holler that? Because it seems really, really obvious.
And let's consider for a moment, that glowing Valhalla that the LA crew have planned that will lure the Vikings away. It is hasn't been built yet, of course. But consider this--if it is built, it will be largely private money that builds it. The Vikings are going to leave Minnesota because they can't get $600 Million from the public, and move into a privately-owned $1.5 Billion stadium? I've got a feeling that that lease is going to be EXPENSIVE. And LA crowds are fickle. There's probably more money to be made signing a 2-5 year, super cheap lease in the Metrodome, with the promise that those new funds go to bridging a gap in the current deal. No way, for example, should the public pay for anything like 60% of the new stadium. I'm thinking more like 30%, tops.
Here's a question, that fellow blogger Andrew Wice keeps asking when I post about the Vikings Stadium Issues--if the Vikings took their $400 million, and upgraded the Metrodome, would they be OK?
I'm guessing they would be quite well off, but this isn't about doing well, this about keeping up with the Jerry Joneses. They don't want a $400 million fix-up; they want a Billion Dollar Boondoggle. And the press seems to think they deserve one.
Just watch old man Sid Hartman discuss how easily he and Bud Grant got to the new site, and how convenient it was (presumably, there were not 80,000 other people trying to get there when he tested out the route). Oh, and by the way...Sid Hartman has been an ownership stooge for longer than you've been alive.