Good news in the Minnesota Vikings stadium funding mess, everybody! The cavalry has arrived, and it’s tobacco tax money!
A one-time tax on tobacco inventory brought in $30 million, about $3.5 million more than state leaders agreed to set aside for the state’s first bond payment on the $975 million new stadium.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue reports that the money will be available Sept. 1, which is months before construction begins on the new stadium.
Current projections show that state will need about $20 million for the first year’s bond payment and then about $33.5 million a year after that for the life of the bonds.
There won’t be any more tobacco tax money next year, but that’s okay, because even if Minnesotans keep turning up their noses at these e-pulltab things that were supposed to pay for the stadium, money from a new corporate tax has been set aside to fill any gaps.
So hooray, even if gamblers won’t pay for the stadium, the state can do so by tapping tax money that otherwise would have gone into … the general fund … hey, why isn’t anybody rejoicing? Rejoice, damn you!
Meanwhile, a county court judge yesterday heard a lawsuit to force a referendum on the Vikings stadium deal, on the grounds that city voters passed a ballot initiative in 1997 requiring a public vote on any stadium subsidies over $10 million. One of the city’s main defenses: The state included a “cities don’t have to pay attention to any referendum requirements” clause in its stadium legislation. Which it can probably technically do in this case because state laws trump city laws, but man, way to remind your citizens that they not only can’t they vote on sports subsidies, they can’t even vote on whether to vote on them.