Vikings airport e-pulltab revenues coming in at 2 cents on the dollar

When revenue from the “electronic pulltab” gambling games (actually instant lotteries on iPads) that were supposed to pay for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium first started coming in crazy short last winter, state officials assured everyone that things would pick up. Then they assured everyone again in February. In June the government launched a statewide tour asking people to gamble more. So how’re things going now?

The MinneapolisSt. Paul International Airport became one of the first airports in the nation to launch electronic gambling in January, projecting that the iPad games in bars and restaurants would rake in $3 million in 2013 to help fund the Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Six months later, however, passengers have spent $33,586.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls this “disappointing returns”; I’d say that when it turns out you’ve overestimated your projected revenues by 4366%, that would fall in the category of “having lost your grip on reality.” Though it’s always possible that the projections would have been more accurate if Minnesota hadn’t chosen Satanic Uncle Sam as their cartoon mascot.

Anyway, now that the entire Vikings funding scheme turns out to have been a fraud, it’s time for Twin Cities journalists to start jumping off the bandwagon. The Star Trib’s Patrick Reusse chimes in today by complaining that Vikings fans will have to pay for seat licenses (suggesting that because Vikes owner Zygi Wilf once reneged on a real estate deal, it’d be fine for Minnesota to do the same on the Vikings stadium). This on top of a Reusse column last week complaining that Vikings management is griping about new development near the stadium taking up precious tailgating space.

All of which is well and good, in a filling-dead-tree-space kind of way. Except when you remember that when the Vikings deal was in progress, Reusse wrote that it had to be approved or else the team would move to Minnesota Los Angeles. And that a new stadium was needed for Minneapolis’ downtown to “remain dynamic rather than decaying.” And that he only bemoaned the lack of attention to the “financial realities” of the deal once it was done, and then not in the Star Trib but on a radio station’s blog.

This isn’t just intra-journalistic snarkiness: The Vikings bonds still haven’t actually been sold, and apparently won’t be for a while yet, so it’s not too late for the state to tell the Vikings that if they still want a stadium, they’re going to need to come up with a source of revenue that isn’t totally imaginary. That’s not going to happen without public pressure, though, which would require the public actually being informed about those “financial realities” by news reporters. Though if throwing red meat to football fans about the high price of tickets does more to prompt retweets, I guess that’s just the future of journalism, right?


7 comments on “Vikings airport e-pulltab revenues coming in at 2 cents on the dollar

  1. “Of the $33,586 spent so far on the games, 85 percent was returned to players as prizes,…”

    fwiw, that was the point at which the whole deal became lol funny…

    “[Minnesota Sports Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen] said the backup sources of funding — the cigarette tax hike and revenue from the closing of a corporate tax loophole — ‘basically have the whole thing covered.’”

    …and then the inevitable “taxpayers are gonna pay for this place” conclusion.

  2. Both the cigarette tax money and the corporate tax loophole money are being diverted from the general fund, but I guess the Star Trib ran out of column inches to mention that:

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2013/05/17/5162/mn-gov-proposes-diverting-cigarette-and-sales-taxes-for-vikings-stadium/

  3. “or else the team would move to Minnesota.”

    Aren’t the Vikings already in Minnesota?

  4. You know, the Minnesota of the West. That’s why they call their basketball team the Lakers.

  5. Awesome! Thanks Neil.

    By the way, can the legislature cancel the project? Can they redo the legislation? Or, are they stuck.

  6. Until they sell the bonds, it’s all undoable. In fact, there’s even been legislation introduced to undo it, though I don’t think it’s gone anywhere:

    http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/202610631.html

  7. Only us plutocrats get to “renege”. You plebes don’t have that privilege.

    As for failed e-pulltabs and upcoming seat license gouging, well, that’s why I buy off the pols on the front end. No matter how the narrative twists and turns over time, in the end I get the shiny new gold-plated palace paid for mostly with the average guy’s money. It’s the American way!