Hundred-million-dollar “or” could threaten Vikings, United stadium funding

Minnesota has been through some awfully weird stadium shenanigans in its time, but this takes the cake: A one-word typo in a tax bill meant to raise money to pay off the almost-completed Vikings stadium is now endangering not just funding for that project, but for the new Minnesota United stadium, too.

How’s that work, exactly? Well, it seems as if the Minnesota state legislature, as part of a bill designating pulltab gambling money for the new Vikings stadium, intended to carve out a tax exemption for bingo halls — i.e., places where bingo is the main business, not other gambling establishments that happen to host bingo from time to time. So they wrote this into the legislation:

[A bingo hall is a place where an organization] regularly conducts bingo if that organization gets half of its revenue from bingo or no other organization conducts lawful gambling.

See the problem here? If that “or” were an “and,” only organizations that got the majority of their revenue from bingo could get the tax break. Instead, any gambling organization can get it just by “regularly conducting bingo,” so long as it’s the only gambling organization on the site. It’s a whopper of a typo, one that state budget officers say would cost the state $100 million in revenues over the next three years, “all of the revenue over the next three years from charitable gambling intended to offset [Vikings] stadium expenses.”

That’s right up there with the infamous million-dollar comma, but the fallout from the typo could be even more far-reaching: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he’ll veto the entire tax bill unless the typo is fixed, and since the tax bill also contains Minnesota United’s $54 million property tax exemption for their new stadium, now suddenly the expansion MLS franchise is caught up in this, too.

It’s extremely likely that all this will get worked out, but with the legislature already having ended its session for the year, it may not be a simple fix. (Some legislators are saying they’ll just write a letter saying “that’s not what we meant,” but state budget officials say a special session would be needed to set this right.) In any case, it’s all a great opportunity to point and laugh at Minnesota elected officials, not to mention a terrific case for why it’s important to have copy editors.

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3 comments on “Hundred-million-dollar “or” could threaten Vikings, United stadium funding

  1. It’ll be “fixed” ‘cuz there’s too many dollars for campaigns at stake from
    the ultimate recipients – big-time sports industry and their dependents.
    Of course, if there’s a road to repair, school to be renovated or such
    other mundane requests by the shee-ple voters, you’ll just have to wait.
    Bread and circuses win out…

  2. In fairness, PJ, this has presented a great opportunity to leverage the special session for Dayton to get many of his initiatives funded, which do include pre-K programming, the southwest LRT, and other positive developments. Yes he is also a huge proponent of stadium development for whatever reason, but you take wins where you can get them.

  3. “Positive developments”??? Schools, infrastructure, transportation are necessities. Let million and billionaires build their own stadiums with their own money. The people shouldn’t have to beg legislators and other government officials to spend the taxpayers’ money on the necessities of civilized life. Ultimately, the taxpayers have been screwed and the quality of life in Minneapolis continues to decline. At least the last election cleared out a few stadium supporters and people seem to be becoming more attentive politically.

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