Despite the Vikings' insistence that they want a new stadium in Arden Hills, Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak has been spending his city's extremely limited funds on drafting three expensive plans to bring a Vikings Stadium to one of three locations in and around downtown Minneapolis. Rybak is joined in this effort by City Council President Barb Johnson, who is the only councilmember aggressively shilling for a Vikings Tax.
All three proposals share the same funding scheme, which is a 'pick your poison' choice. One funding route would rely on a 0.35% Vikings Sales Tax on all taxable items purchased in Minneapolis, plus a 1% Vikings Tax on lodging. The other funding option is to put a casino in the notorious 'Block E' in downtown Minneapolis, where the City made a costly bet about a dozen years ago on a mixed-use retail development--and mostly lost as the site has been unable to keep prominent tenants.
The casino would pay a $20 million license fee and then 5% of gross gaming revenues would go to the stadium through 2020, decreasing to 3% of gross gaming revenues thereafter.
Rybak says his plans are better because all of his schemes include $100,000,000 for a Target Center renovation that he has been shilling for all year, and also "secure the future" of the Convention Center as well. Rybak also touts the fact that his plans are less expensive than Arden Hills--mainly because Minneapolis already has most of the necessary roads (albeit ones that are in disrepair).
Rybak also pitches the new Vikings Sales Taxes as a way to provide a small amount of property tax relief, as careless city leaders have been requiring city taxpayers to chip in for significant shortfalls in the Target Center operating budget for many years now. Rybak says that his schemes mean $5 million in operating losses will be paid with the Vikings Sales Taxes or Casino revenues rather than property taxes.
In addition to picking from two financing plans, Rybak invites lawmakers and governor to pick from three different downtown sites, including the Metrodome/Downtown East site, the Linden Avenue Site near the Basilica of St. Mary, and the Farmer's Market Site, where local Minnesota farmers sell their wares every day from April to December (on Lyndale Avenue just south of Olson Memorial Highway #55).
After a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce the plans, the Vikings issued a press release emphasizing their "respect" for city officials, but reiterating that "the Minnesota Vikings have a local partner -- Ramsey County -- with whom we have negotiated for several months. Arden Hills is the ideal stadium site for the State, the Vikings and our fans."
So there you have it: Minneapolis officials once again tell their citizens that a tax hike is the best way to provide a tax cut, and attempt to roll several boondoggles into one mega-boondoggle. And then there's the issue of the added vagrancy we would surely see in an already rough part of downtown when a casino comes in. If history is our guide, the City isn't very good at redeveloping this area, but despite their lack of ability, the City refuses to give up their grandiose efforts. Meanwhile, one wonders what would happen to these small family farmers who depend on the Farmer's Market to sell their food? And how much longer will we have to hear the term 'People's Stadium'? Are we going to get free access to hold meetings there or something? No? Then how exactly is it a people's stadium? Oh, I see, it's a people-funded stadium. Now that makes more sense.
Published October 27, 2011 10:26 PM