The Minnesota state senate yesterday overwhelmingly approved a bill banning any “state funds or tax expenditures” from going toward a Minnesota United soccer stadium, voting in the measure by a 61-4 margin. And while the Minneapolis Star Tribune calls this “largely symbolic,” since United execs haven’t asked for state cash, that “tax expenditures” bit sure sounds like it would block the use of state sales tax breaks on construction materials, as the team owners have requested.
That would still leave the much larger property tax exemption that United is seeking from the city of Minneapolis, but given that Mayor Betsy Hodges has already said she’s not inclined to throw tax breaks at the team, either, United’s “say we’re building a $100 million stadium with our own money and then ask for half that amount in tax breaks” plan is getting off to a bit of a rocky start. It’s easy to forget since Minnesota recently paid a pile of money toward two high-profile stadiums for the Twins and Vikings, but it’s one of the states that’s historically been the most resistant to sports subsidies — the Twins and Vikings, in fact, each had to fight for more than a decade against massive public opposition to get their stadium cash — so MLS may end up having to decide on whether to hold up yet another expansion franchise because its stadium demands aren’t being met. Extortion is hard!