Look, there are a lot of things I dislike about the idea about getting tax increases passed by the people who are going to get taxed. I've seen education referendums that cost practically nothing at all, because too many people thought something, "Why should I pay for some kid's education, when it isn't even my kid?" But I've read the studies that show that no investment pays off like education. And I've read study after study that shows that the $1 Billion Dollar Stadium does not pay itself back, just because of All The People congregating and bars selling more booze and all the stuff that Stadium Builders want to argue. Especially if you put that stadium in the middle of nowhere, which is what the Vikings are trying to do. The proposed site isn't as far from downtown DC as the FedEx Field is, but it ain't exactly downtown, either.
Here's the real truth, Ruth, and I don't think I've seen it summarized as succinctly as I have at Field of Schemes (who continue to be brilliant), but here's my own quick paraphrase--"There's only one way for $1,000,000,000 dollar stadiums to be profitable, and that is to have a lot of free money." If that's the only way for them to be profitable, then they are, by definition, a bad investment.
Here's the kicker--I think they actually could be a decent investment, if corporations like the Vikings were not such pigs at the trough. The Vikings are seeking $600 million in free money, on the argument that if they take their ball and go to Los Angeles, they will be taking a sizable taxable economy away. But really? How many bar sales and beer sales and hot dog sales does it take to make up 600 million dollars? I'm guessing it takes a lot of $6 Coors Light and $4 hot dogs. Let's see--one beer and one hot dog, $10. Even if that went all went back to the investors, we're still talking 60,000,000 hot dogs and beers. That's a lot of cheap beer and sketchy hot dogs.
If I were in the mood to call the Vikings on their horsepucky, and I was running a municipality from which they were trying to get 300 million dollars from, I'd say something like this, "Yes, we will fund you--we will loan you $300 million, and we will come up with very generous terms--something like $10 million a year, plus interest. We will write a bill up that the money you pay us can only be spent on education and infrastructure. The interest we will charge will be nothing compared to what you would get at your average bank. Everyone wins!"
And everyone would. Instead of the community having a tax forced on them, that community would see an investment opportunity. The Vikings would get their new fancy place to play (which they don't need, but that's another story!). Minnesotans, long proud of not being like places like Dallas, Texas, could continue to be proud of that fact. And the Vikings would just have to carve up some room in their budget to pay back a loan, which based on the money they gave Brett Favre, they have financial wherewithal to do. If you've got $17 million to pay to a guy who did nothing for you, you've got $17 million to pay back to the people who make your team go (i.e., fans).
But that's not at likely to happen, because the NFL doesn't like even the hint of public ownership, the Vikings Ownership thinks that whatever Dallas and the Minnesota Twins get, they should get (despite the lack of championships/competence), and let's face it, the Vikings think they can make Minnesota fans blink. They are wrong, but they do think that.
*(try to spot the person under 58 years old in the room. He is there, I think!)