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May 03, 2010
Vikings stadium funding plan thrown to the wolves
Four Minnesota Democrats announced today that they'll soon be introducing legislation to fund two-thirds of a $791 million Vikings stadium with tax dollars. What kind of tax dollars, you ask? Why, that'd be taxes on hotel rooms, car rentals, and sports memorabilia, plus revenues from a sports-themed lottery.
In other words, everything that's been run up the flagpole so far, including ideas that were endorsed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty (a lottery) and those that were considered unworkable because the governor doesn't like them (a state sports memorabilia tax). And how does the guv feel about them now?
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in Washington, D.C. on Monday for a U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum, said that while he is open to new ideas to help build a Vikings stadium he reiterated that "we're not going to be raising or dealing with state taxes to subsidize that."
His office, through spokeman Brian McClung, was even more critical of Monday's stadium proposal. "We remain opposed to any stadium plan that includes tax increases, including the hotel tax, jersey tax, and rental car tax in one of the plans unveiled today," McClung said.
Okay, then. Given that state senator Tom Bakk, one of the foursome putting forward the bill today, said the legislation was all but written a month ago, and it still has plenty of poison pills in it as far as drawing Pawlenty's veto pen, you have to figure this is more a matter of trying to kick-start Vikings stadium talks from the "should we pay for it?" to the "how do we pay for it?" stage than actually putting forward passable legislation.
Vikes stadium czar Lester Bagley certainly seems to feel that way, telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the team isn't endorsing the bill, but considers it "a great start to the conversation." With two weeks to go in the legislative session, it's any conversation starter in a storm...
UPDATE: Reuters has the breakdown of funding streams: "$39.1 million raised annually from a 1.5 percent area hotel surtax, a 6.875 percent tax on sports jersey purchases, a sports team scratch-off game and a 2.5 percent rental car surtax." The wire service adds that "lawmakers stressed that no state funds would be used for the stadium," which, unless we're talking a county sports jersey tax, seems more than a bit misleading.