Field of Schemes
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November 14, 2011

Dayton calls for Vikings stadium "negotiating team" (and maybe racinos)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is at it again, with a Minneapolis Star Tribune op-ed yesterday in which he:

  • Declared that a Vikings stadium is needed "at a time when more than 200,000 people are out of work in our state."
  • Said that such a stadium whether in Arden Hills or Minneapolis, could be funded by "taxes on stadium items like tickets and souvenirs, and by adding electronic pulltabs to already existing charitable gambling."
  • Blamed the state legislature for refusing to hold a special session until there was an actual funding plan, which Dayton says he would have had, but he canceled it because the legislature wouldn't hold a special session.
  • Offered to get together with the legislature to appoint a "a site-neutral negotiating team, consisting of the Republican and DFL authors of the legislation; stadium, real estate and financing experts, and an experienced negotiator."

This last is a nice touch: You're going to leave the stadium funding negotiations in the hands of the legislators who are currently working with the Vikings to give the stadium deal they want? Isn't there a term for this?

In any event, it looks like racinos (racinos! racinos!) are going to be the likely last-ditch effort to drum up public funds for a Vikings stadium, now that sales tax hikes are off the table. A Minnesota TV station noticed that Aqueduct Racetrack is generating about $1.5 million a day for New York state since video slot machines were installed there, though it fails to notice that a good chunk of that money is thanks to the fact that the state's Off-Track Betting service recently closed, meaning gambling revenues are being moved around more than actually increased.

Whatever the source, it's going to need to come up with something like $50 million a year in revenues to pay off the public's share of a proposed new stadium — and maybe more than that, given that team owner Zygi Wilf said last week that he'd reduce his $400 million share (note: not actually all his money) if the stadium is in Minneapolis instead of Arden Hills. Somebody really needs a reminder on how this is supposed to work.


It's probably important to note that NY's Off-Track Betting service you mentioned didn't exactly close--it effectively went bankrupt. The OTB parlors in NY had become places for the homeless to get out of the weather. Plus it's been legal in NY for over the past 10 years to bet at home through ADWs (Advance Deposit Wagering online sites). So the early success of racinos in NY has nothing to do with moving gambling revenues around. As usual, most of the info spread around about gaming is inaccurate. Probably not in this case, but in most cases because the source is tribal casinos--non taxpayers controlling public policy. Only in Minnesota!

Posted by Gibson on November 14, 2011 11:28 AM

If you read the MN papers, you note that the debate is no longer 'whether' to build a taxpayer-financed palace, but rather 'where' and 'how much.' In other words, the NFL and the Vikings have won; the legislature is left haggling over how to pay, and the bottom-line assumption is that anyone who stands in the way does so at great political peril. Even the pols thought to be 'anti-stadium' are reduced to arguing about the preferred method for getting the money into the Wilfs' pockets.

Posted by Dave Boz on November 14, 2011 01:17 PM

Yes it was a very clever pivot in the campaign. It was all about whether this "should happen or not and how much", and in the face of widespread and mounting public opposition they changed the conversation to "when and where".

It is possible once they get back to more concrete plans people will be angry again, but if they can just cram something through the legislature quickly without their being much time for the media to talk about it the political damage will be manageable.

Posted by Joshua Northey on November 14, 2011 02:34 PM

LOL @ Field of Schemes. You aren't even from Minnesota all you know is what you read in the news.

All you see is another stadium potentially going up so you go into high gear. This stadium has no chance of passage. I have no idea what "Dave Boz" is talking about. This thing isn't even close. FOS you should be very happy.

Your group is against public funding and if you were paying attention you would know that option is no longer on the table so your group's instrusion in this state's rights issue is no longer needed.

Posted by You aren't from Minnesota so STHU Field of Schemes on November 15, 2011 03:35 PM

And there is a member of our very own Minnesota Militia...

I am from Minnesota, public funding is definitely still on the tale. This doesn't have anything to do with states rights.

Think that was one of Zygi Wilf's lobbying firms?

Posted by Joshua Northey on November 15, 2011 05:18 PM


I would hope that Zygi Wilf's lobbying firms aren't so cowardly and unsure of themselves that they are afraid to post under their own name.

Posted by John Bladen on November 15, 2011 05:28 PM

Good to know that public funding is 'no longer on the table.' That leads me to wonder why the Minnesota legislature is involved. Normally no legislative attention is needed for private builders to finance and erect a structure.

Posted by Dave Boz on November 15, 2011 09:44 PM

Sorry guys, I just bought another 4x5 photo of my Hero Joe Pa.

Please email me and support him.

Minnesota Vikings forever!

Posted by Neil De Mouth on November 19, 2011 07:06 PM

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