In what should come as a surprise to no one, the pile of quarter-baked stadium plans issued for the Minnesota Vikings last week isn’t doing much to resolve the state legislature’s plans for whether to build a new home for the team. State stadium czar Ted Mondale said Friday that “time is not on our side right now” for getting a stadium bill voted on during this year’s legislative session that starts tomorrow, and there’s increasing talk of just kicking the whole debate back to 2013, when money will suddenly grow on trees.
Meanwhile, Dayton last week threw cold water on the idea of raising stadium funds via racinos, noting that the state’s Indian tribes, which operate legal casinos, could sue to stop the installation of slot machines at Minnesota racetracks: “Passage of racino legislation to fund a new stadium is speculative. Even if it were to pass, several years of litigation in federal courts should be expected. Proceeds from racinos could not provide the assured revenue stream to back state-issued bonds until that litigation was resolved.” The tribes apparently wouldn’t sue over installing electronic pulltabs at bars and restaurants, but there’s little political support for that plan at the moment.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press, meanwhile, has a long article today on all the ways in which a new Vikings stadium could be bad for St. Paul, including a new commercial district in Arden Hills diverting shoppers from St. Paul businesses, and subsidies for Minneapolis’ Target Center (which could be rolled into a stadium bill) making it hard for St. Paul’s Xcel Center to compete for acts. The article includes these words, which should be chilling for any city hoping to pay off an arena by booking lots of concerts:
“It used to be who could give a better rate. I think it’s going to come to a point in the not-to-distant future where it will be, ‘Who can pay an act more to come?'” St. Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry said.
None of which should be exactly a surprise, especially since Minnesota already tore down one arena because of competition from the Target Center. It’s suddenly news now to the Pioneer Press, though, apparently because “St. Paul officials and business leaders” are now “fretting” over these issues. Just so long as there are politicians saying this, and it’s not just the paper being truth vigilantes.