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September 20, 2005

A good first try from Zygi

I've said it before, but when I heard so long ago that Zygi and the Vikings were putting together a plan for a new stadium in Anoka county that relied on state money ... well, I though that it would not sit well with the state legislature. It appears this prediction is turning out to be true. However, more importantly, how does this new Viking stadium proposal help or hurt the Twins stadium proposal? That is the question. Let's go over the plan:

Vikings contribution: at least $280 million
Anoka county contribution: at least $280 million
State contribution: at least $115 million

A few things stand out for me about this breakdown.

  1. The Vikings contribution is being aided by a loan from the NFL. Although the term "G3" hasn't been used, it would appear that is the fund this is coming from. I've been wondering if there is still money in that pot and I think we have our answer.
  2. $280 million is about $130 million more than Red ever agreed to. That is very significant and a step in the right direction
  3. The Anoka county contribution is a general sales tax that breaks down to .75 cents on every $100. So on a $20,000 car purchase the extra tax would be $150. I just find that interesting
  4. And finally, the state's contribution. $115 million isn't a whole heck of a lot to ask from the state, but it is $115 million more than the Twins are asking for. Sorry Zygi, I just don't think it is going to fly.

The state's $115 million is said to be coming from a new TIF (tax increment financing) district set up around the stadium. The district would siphon off new tax monies to go towards paying off the stadium. The thinking behind a scheme like this is that without the stadium there wouldn't be any new tax monies to begin with, so the state wouldn't be losing any money any way you slice it. With or without the stadium the state would see the same amount of tax money.

TIF financing is also a financing strategy already suggested and approved by T-Paw from a couple of years ago. In fact, TIF was a major part of T-Paw's plan to build a new Twins stadium. Of course, this TIF strategy met with resistance and it was scrapped, and now the Twins aren't relying on it at all. Does that mean that the Vikings could have more success now that the Twins aren't a part of the TIF picture? No, I don't think so.

There is a great deal of animosity towards any kind of state contribution towards stadium funding (sans the Gopher stadium plan). Dean Johnson has already reacted quite cooly to this plan given the fact that it requires some form of state money.

So, my question is this: if the legislature approved the Anoka county tax, but not the TIF financing scheme would the deal still go through? I think the answer is yes.

Zygi would pick up the rest of the tab. I don't think this plan will work out for Zygi, but I definitely think it is a step in the right direction. Once they take the state out of the equation I think you will see the plan go through. $115 million more for a guy like Zygi is still a lot of money, but there is no way he would turn down all that "free money" from Anoka county if that is all the legislature approved.

According to the Anoka County propaganda site this stadium proposal will create 8,700 permanent jobs, and increase the property tax base in both the city and the county by $10.8 million. They also promise that with this stadium school districts will actually see more money, to the tune of $5.4 million. Not to mention all the construction jobs that this proposal would create. You will see a stadium in Anoka county some day. I have no doubt in my mind about that. But the plan needs a little more tweaking. We'll also see how it goes in the coming months.

Now for the Twins. Does this plan hurt or help the Twins cause? I'm still of the opinion that it helps them since it highlights once again what a brilliant strategy it was to take the state out of the equation. Everything will be paid for by Hennepin County and the team, including infrastructure around the stadium. Sviggum and Johnson love this and support the plan because of this. So, anything that can make the Twins plan look better is a good thing.

Secondly, the Vikings coming out with this plan, a plan that is so close to working, only puts more pressure on the legislature to start solving some of these problems. They know the Vikings are close to coming up with a workable plan. They also know that steel, oil, and construction costs are only increasing and that the time is now to hammer some of these proposals through. And hopefully they know that these problems aren't going to go away. Not even if the teams leave.

I see this as a good development. It is a good first try from Zygi, and it only highlights more the fact that the Twins also have a pretty decent plan. Plus, it puts more pressure on T-Paw. I think we've all read this statement from the Strib:

"The governor will be communicating with legislative leaders regarding stadiums and other issues shortly," McClung said. "We will evaluate the Vikings proposal in that context."

So, T-Paw is going to get the ball rolling soon. That is what I've been waiting for. My prediction is that support is given to the Twins and the Gophers, and a pat on the back is given to the Vikings. Would I love to see all three proposals given a fair shake? Of course, but I don't think that will happen.

More later as I have more time to think this through...

Posted by snackeru at September 20, 2005 7:28 AM | Stadiums


If nothing else, it will certainly tip the scales to be squarely on TPaw to call a special session....which helps all three plans. Way to go Zygi (Triple Word Score) Wilf!

Vince, c'mon. There is nothing wrong with the location. By having it in Blaine, Zygi stands to gain by having parking around the stadium thereby getting parking revenue which he could never do downtown (ever been to the Meadowlands?). Not to mention 65K fans all tailgating together.

And your "stadium for 8 games" holds no water. This site will have 8700 permanent jobs. Zygi has already mentioned major league World Cup soccer and a major league soccer team. Yes, the Olympics are a stretch but had you actually listened to the press conference you would know that Zygi said it for laughs. But seriously mentioned in the same breath was a Super Bowl (the northern climes get one every 5-years) and the NCAA Final Four.

If you'd done your homework, you would have learned that the project will actually strenghten the property tax base for Blaine by approximately $10.8M for the city, another $10.8M for the county, and $5.4M for two (count 'em, two) school districts thereby reducing the burden on household property taxpayers.

This is a good thing all around. Compare it to what McCombs was offering and it is almost a God send.

I'm taking it.

Posted by: Brian Maas at September 20, 2005 8:50 AM

I'm completely behind this proposal. I cannot imagine how happy this stadium would make my good friend Shane. He would be smiling for years if this goes through.

Plus, this stadium is for the kids. I mean, they will be able to hold their heads up high when this is done as their team would have a great place to play. It could be one of the crown jewels of the NFL. Self-esteem goes a long way with kids, so let's do it for them.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at September 20, 2005 9:50 AM

Since I'm a Minneapolis guy, I've always hoped that the Vikings would stay in a refurbished Metrodome. It's been apparent for a while that this isn't going to happen.

I'm a little dubious over the Anoka County deal and some the economic assertions. I would look at those job numbers carefully. Also if they are using TIF, I can't see how the school district gets $5.4 million as TIF captures all the tax $$$ that would have been generated by the project (including school district and county) and funnels it to the project. But since I don't live in Anoka County, no big deal.

Bottom line I think it helps the Twins as the Twins proposal is a lot cheaper (sales tax is 5 times higher for Vikes) and no State $$$. Also Twins needs are more dire and State will be forced to deal with Twins if they are serious about tacking the Vikes (pun intended).

Posted by: freealonzo at September 20, 2005 10:30 AM

Craig, I love you reasoning. Lets do it "for the kids." How can you go wrong when you do it "for the kids"? I mean, children love stadiums! It is so crazy it just might work!

And I would smile for the rest of my life if this went through. Joe Randa would have nothing on me.

freealonzo, thanks for your excellent and well-put comments, as usual. I agree, if TIF is a part of the plan then the benefits look a little shakier. I personally don't think this is the end of the Vikings stadium drive. This plan will be tweaked further and will probably include a larger contribution from the team. That is what I am thinking.

And it does help the Twins stadium chances. No doubt about it. Speaking of smiling, I would be practically catatonic if a Twins stadium was ever approved. I'm feeling better and better about their chances...

Posted by: Shane at September 20, 2005 3:53 PM

i am excited that a new stadium may happen. BUT...it is too bad that all talk is in the suburbs. it is nice to have the sports teams play in the city not some far out suburb. will there be public transportation. what about getting home after a couple to many beers during a game. i would like a stadium closer to the people. not way out in blaine. the twins proposal is in mpls which would work out well. the vikes need to tear down the metrodome and leave the location there. noone is talking about location but blaine isn't all that close to mpls and traffic would be a nightmare in/out of there.

Posted by: dan at September 20, 2005 4:41 PM

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