Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vikings Stadium: Definitely Not A Matter of When

I'll admit, the title of this post is meant to be another in a series of reminders that Peter King was full of excrement when he said on national television that it was of "when" not "if" the new Vikings Stadium would be built.

The Vikings stadium funding bill came to the legislature after month upon month of wrangling and it exited with the grace of an act getting chased off the stage at the Apollo by the Sandman. The reason why the newest variation of the Vikings Stadium bill is failing is pretty simple--the State's plan for funding is pretty terrible.

I know that not every state in this fine nation has embraced the most ridiculous version of gambling out there--Pull Tabs. If you have never played Pull Tabs, please allow me to describe. Essentially it is a combination of lottery tickets and slot machines. You buy some tiny cards that have tabs (that you pull) revealing whether you are a winner or a loser. Obviously, more often than not, you are a loser. The original Pull Tabs are called "Cardboard Crack" among those in the know for a reason.

But actual pull tabs are not part of the funding bill. Electronic pull tabs are the future, and the funding source of the almost $400 million that the State of Minnesota is being asked to pay. So, in an effort to avoid actually getting anyone to pay any sort of tax, the sponsors of the bill decided, "Hey, why not just grab some of those degenerate gambler dollars?"

Minnesotans have a high tolerance for the taxing or screwing over of degenerate gamblers. We don't think twice about the totally awesome commercials from last year for the Vikings Scratch Off that starred John Randle; we rarely even ponder the free charter buses cruising poor neighborhoods taking the elderly to various Indian Casinos.

But there's a problem with that money on a couple of fronts. The first, most basic one is that a pull tab investment, technically, is supposed to go to a charity, not a private stadium (politicians and sportswriters can call it a People's Stadium, but it ain't). It's pretty lax, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty convinced that the pull tab machine I used to play at a bar that will be unnamed was funding a charity that was probably a front for the IRA. But all the same, that machine had the name of a nonprofit over it. Not a sign that said, "Play here and fund a stadium."

The second problem is that the numbers seem rather bogus.  Here's MPR:

"The Spring Lake Park Lions Club sells pull-tabs at four sites in Spring Lake Park and Blaine. They do about $5.9 million in annual business. They're the seventh-largest charitable gambling operation in the state.

The projections for Vikings stadium funding have the Lions sales more than doubling to $11.8 million annually."

Also, please note their description: charitable gambling. Vikings don't count, last time anyone with a brain and/or without a boner for their legacy checked.

Which is why the Vikings Stadium bill debuted and was swept off the stage so quickly today. Consider this exchange, reported by Mike Kaszuba (a reporter doing yeoman's work)  in the Star Tribune:

Sen. Julie Rosen, the chief Senate stadium proposal sponsor, conceded that negotiators were scrambling to come up with a backup plan in case charitable gambling revenue fell short. 

The financial uncertainty came amid criticism from charitable gambling organizations that want more tax relief in the legislation, which could further reduce the state's take. "In the event that not enough people gamble, what is the backup plan?" asked Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake Park, who has co-authored a rival proposal to give the Vikings only a state loan for the project. 

"We're working on that," said Rosen, R-Fairmont.

I'm sorry, but could a plan for a stadium be more clearly put together with duct tape and chicken wire? I mean, the main sponsor of the bill is just now "working on that" problem in which the projected gambling revenue is clearly bogus and still hasn't been agreed to by the agencies that actually collect the money?

I'd say that maybe I'm exaggerating with that duct tape thing, but...

And now, here comes the City Pages to say a bunch of things we've been saying here but the City Pages took their time to research and write. Read it. It is a devastating take down not just on this Taj Mahal of a stadium in Minnesota, but for almost every other stadium argument coming up. Our Friend Neil at Field of Schemes (who literally wrote the book on this shit) thought the City Pages argument important.


Andrew Wice said...

Not sure exactly what a "state loan" is but if it's a loan from the state which will be paid back by the stadium's owners at something above inflation ... couldn't that work?

Ownership is on record for saying how many gobs of money will come rolling in, once the new stadium is built. Is it impossible to make them put their money where their spewhole is?

With creative accounting, MN could find the money to bankroll building the stadium. Then the Vikings could have, say, ten years to pay the money back. I just don't understand why the people of MN are obligated to pay for building a private business's main attraction of income.

Geoff Granfield said...

You will not ever know the clump felt inside of your throat when your manager notifies you the government is garnishing your paycheck. I continued pondering how this could arise. Every two weeks the cash were obtained and I felt helpless, since I disregarded all the notices and opportunities until now. Do not hesitate to overcome your tax debt.

pay per head service said...

well this Stadium issue has became a big deal, isn't it?? they would avoid all this drama by simply giving up on the idea of a new stadium