Another day, another Minnesota state legislature panic attack about how the hell to pay off the Vikings‘ new stadium now that Plan A has crashed and burned. The latest proposal: state rep Ann Lenczewski has proposed applying Minnesota’s 6.875% sales tax to sports team merchandise and luxury suites at pro sporting events, and using the proceeds to help pay off the stadium bills.
This isn’t the worst idea — sales taxes in general may be regressive, but taxing sports-related sales in particular tends to come out of the pockets either of fans or of team owners (depending on whether you think people will be willing to spend more on an item if it’s tax-free). A memorabilia tax, in fact, was part of the penultimate stadium deal agreed to last year, though it was later removed. On the less bright side, non-Vikings sports teams will likely be outraged at their fans having to pay for a new NFL stadium, plus a memorabilia tax likely wouldn’t bring in all that much money anyway.
Meanwhile, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen insists that the authority is going to break ground and start selling bonds by October, regardless of whether anyone knows how the bonds will be paid off. Though of course, everyone, including bondholders, knows how the bonds will be paid off if push comes to shove:
“If nothing changes and the shortfall continues and they [sell] the bonds, the money will come out of the general fund,” said Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, who plans to introduce a bill this week to put stadium construction on hold until the issue is resolved. “And three-fourths of the general fund goes to education and health care.”
It’s going to be very interesting to see how initial debate on Nienow’s bill goes. And whether, if it starts to gain traction, Minnesota gets another visit from Roger Goodell.