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November 21, 2006

Show me the money

First and foremost, I'd like to look at the bright side of Anoka County dropping out of the race for a new Vikings stadium: in the next couple of months I will be able to post some new stadium pictures in the header of this site! That is reason alone to smile.

OK. I think we can all agree that Anoka County dropping out of the race is not a big surprise. Personally, I wouldn't have minded the Vikings calling Anoka County home, but there were some obvious problems with the site that caused the price tag to balloon out of control. Anoka County made a good decision to drop out, and it sounds like the Vikings made it easy for them by not even contacting them by their Monday noon deadline. Did anyone else think that was strange? Anoka County gives the Vikings until noon on Monday to contact them with some kind of reassurance that Anoka County is still THE site, and the Vikings don't even give them a call? Lester Bagley's crocodile tears over Anoka County dropping out seemed a little disingenuous after that news came out.

Having said that, Minneapolis is by far a better site, with the emphasis on the word SITE. The Strib ran a great editorial today that highlights this fact:

The location makes sense. It is publicly owned. It's already part of a downtown master plan. It has been properly zoned. It sits smack at the intersection of the state's two major interstate freeways. Its light-rail trains have demonstrated a remarkable ability to deliver fans to games -- and additional lines to St. Paul and the northwestern and southwestern suburbs are anticipated. Sewers, streets, hotels, meeting rooms and other relevant pieces of infrastructure are already in place. The adjacent Mill District is humming with riverfront redevelopment. There's plenty of land around the Dome, some of which is owned by this newspaper.

Yep, I can buy this. In fact, this sounds great. But at this point this is not my main concern. Obviously, what we should all be worried about is: who is going to pay for all of this? I think we can all agree on certain points:

So where does that leave us? Last session the Democrats tried to tie a new stadium to a metro-wide transportation infrastructure plan. New roads, improved roads, light-rail out the wazoo, personal helicopter backpacks for all residents over the age of 21 ... the works. Personally I think the idea is great, but I wonder if T-Paw would go for it. He still has the veto, and last session he said emphatically this kind of plan was a non-starter. That was last year. Will this year be different?

What about taxes imposed on visitors like a car rental tax or a hotel tax? A bunch of stadiums were built in this fashion. I wonder if a Democratic controlled legislature will be more willing to consider these measures. And if you'll recall, the metro liquor tax expired a couple of years ago. Would they consider bringing that back to pay for this?

The way I see it, the Vikings are about $300 million short. As has already been pointed out, Zygi Wilf's $280 million contribution to the Anoka County plan was largely made up of NFL G3 loan money. Zygi is really going to have to loosen the purse strings and make a TRUE contribution to get this kind of thing off the ground. If he pledged a true $300 million from his own pocket, got another $100 million from the G3, and then sank naming rights into helping to pay for the stadium, the legislature might be willing to figure out the last $100-$150 million.

So, we shall see. I still don't think we'll see any action on this the next legislative session, but if Zygi makes a strong proposal with at least 75% private money we might finally be rid of this stadium nonsense.


Finally, here are some pictures of my visit with Floyd of Rosedale! Freealonzo and I went down to the Gopher Football Hall of Fame a couple of days ago and tracked down this famous statue.

floyd3.jpg

Much like my visit with the Jug, it was really neat to see Floyd up close. And man was that thing heavy! If you watched the game last Saturday you probably noticed the Gopher seniors struggling to lift the thing over their heads. To verify its weight, I tried to just lift it up. Now, if you know me, you know that I often get mistaken for The Rock. When I see The Rock, it is like looking in a mirror. You know, dark complexion, python-like arms ... But man was that thing heavy! It was like dead-lifting a drunken Packer fan.

floyd.jpg

I know what you are thinking and no, this is not The Rock. It is me! Again, just like the Jug it is kind of slick to be around such an amazing and tangible piece of history. If my math is correct, Floyd of Rosedale is about 71 years old.

floyd2.jpg

And here is a picture of me and Freealonzo. Thanks for coming along Free! Now all we need are pictures with the Axe and the Bell. I can see a couple of photo shoots happening as soon as next year!

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Posted by snackeru at November 21, 2006 9:21 PM

Comments

First, relatively speaking, the State is not providing that much to the TCF Stadium and state support for Gopjers should not be used as a reason to not contribute to the Vikings.

Second, I wouldn't exactly say that the City of Mpls is bearing the brunt of the Twins stadium. The Hennepin County residents are, but I don't think the Mpls budget is affected that much. The City of Mpls is bearing the brunt of the Target Center and the Convention Center.

Third, you can't have a metro-wide sales tax and not include Anoka County, just not going to happen. Fine, their panties are in a knot right now but there are still a lot of Vikings fans in Anoka County. Also again, the Anoka County government wouldn't be on the hook, it's the sales taxpayers. A metro-wide sales tax is still the easiest on the pocketbook, and hits the wealthy more than the poor.

Fourth, Thanks for the trip to see Floyd. You can't tell by the expression on my face but I was thrilled!

Fifth, Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by: freealonzo at November 22, 2006 7:42 AM

First, relatively speaking, the State is not providing that much to the TCF Stadium and state support for Gopjers should not be used as a reason to not contribute to the Vikings.

It should not be used, but it will be used. There are a lot of people in this state upset with even the pittance we are giving the Gophers.

Second, I wouldn't exactly say that the City of Mpls is bearing the brunt of the Twins stadium. The Hennepin County residents are, but I don't think the Mpls budget is affected that much. The City of Mpls is bearing the brunt of the Target Center and the Convention Center.

I had read somewhere that Minneapolis residents will be paying for as much as 50% of the Twins stadium just by virtue of being the most populous city in Hennepin County. The City budget isn't affected, but the people of Minneapolis are going to be loathe to bear this brunt again.

Third, you can't have a metro-wide sales tax and not include Anoka County, just not going to happen. Fine, their panties are in a knot right now but there are still a lot of Vikings fans in Anoka County. Also again, the Anoka County government wouldn't be on the hook, it's the sales taxpayers. A metro-wide sales tax is still the easiest on the pocketbook, and hits the wealthy more than the poor.

Agreed. A metro-area tax makes the most sense, but Anoka County taxpayers and government will go into a tizzy if it is just for a Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. If it is to be a metro-area tax, it has got to be for something larger like transportation with the Vikes stadium tacked on if it has any chance to succeed. Anoka County would lead the charge against if a bill is limited to a Vikings stadium.

You have a great Thanksgiving too!

Posted by: Shane at November 22, 2006 9:02 AM

The Vikes stadium deal is dead for the next 2 years at least. Ziggy has shown he gets distracted by the newest shiny thing and that's not going to sit too well with the Legislature.

It sounds like the trophy is pretty dense... like your average Viking fan.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at November 22, 2006 9:04 AM

I'm not sure it's fair to say Minneapolis gets the brunt of the Twins sales tax because they're the most populous city. The last population estimates I've seen show Hennepin County over 1 million now and Minneapolis slowly creeping up towards 400,000. So while it is the largest city in Hennepin County, it still has less than half of the county's population.

That said, I agree that it's not likely that Hennepin is going to take on the Vikings right after the Twins. Despite the overall lack of a voter backlash, I'm sure the Hennepin county commissioners would prefer a break from all the wailing and teeth-gnashing of the CCARL crew...

I think there will have to be some sort of metro-area infrastructure package of which the Vikings are a part in order to entice the Legislature and the rest of the metro to get on board. It will be interesting to see what Pawlenty would do should such a package get to him. My guess is it'll be a lot harder to take the "non-starter" stand without his buddies Steve and Phil running the show at the House anymore.

Posted by: Mark at November 22, 2006 2:53 PM

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