The Big Story Blog

3 things to know about stadiums and football frustration

Posted at 4:37 PM on October 24, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Politics, Sport

20111023_vikingsrs4_53.jpg
AP Photo/Andy King

We couldn't bring ourselves to snarkiness.

We planned today to talk about the pathetic circumstance of having lousy football teams at the University of Minnesota and in the NFL with the Vikings. We were prepared to come out swinging with all the "Kill this" and "Ponder that" you could handle. We were ready to make a big deal about crotch kicks and the Vikings being the most arrested team in the NFL.

But then we turned all wonkish -- which is OK. Plus, we also learned a few things today.

1.) Minneapolis goes all in. With a deal for a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills looking increasingly shaky, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other city officials worked today to swing the discussion of a Vikings stadium back to Minneapolis after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton.

MPR News reporter Tom Scheck writes that Rybak:

...thinks a new Vikings stadium could be built in Minneapolis for less money than a proposed stadium in Arden Hills. Rybak and Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson met privately with Dayton this morning to discuss their plan for the stadium.

Rybak says he prefers a plan he announced several months ago that would have the Vikings build a new stadium on the site of the Metrodome. But he said he is also open to other ideas.

He said he would prefer to see a citywide sales tax increase to pay for the construction but said he's also open to expanded gambling. Rybak said he'll support the plan only if it includes a renovation of the Target Center - home to the NBA's Timberwolves.

There are lots of hurdles with this idea. If it requires a casino at Block E in Minneapolis, expect a huge fight with Minnesota's Indian gaming lobby. Still, you can feel the momentum start to shift.

2.) Biggest stadium public subsidy ever? Maybe not. State Sen. John Marty, a long time opponent of public funding for sports stadiums, sent us scrambling for data when he proclaimed, "The Vikings are asking for the #1, all-time, biggest taxpayer subsidy of any sports franchise anywhere in American history!"

Depends on how your read it, though. In just dollar amounts not adjusted for inflation, he's right. But if your concern is how much of the burden the public would shoulder in the Arden Hills plan, it turns out there are a bunch of examples of cities taking on 70 percent or more of the total cost of an NFL stadium, far more than the 60 percent in the Vikings plan.

And if you account for inflation, it appears New York provided a bigger subsidy in the construction of Madison Square Garden.

3.) On the clock. Dayton again said today he was site neutral for the Vikings stadium and wanted only to keep them in the state. But he also acknowledged "very real, unanswered questions about the viability of the Arden Hills site," especially if legislators force Ramsey County to hold a public vote over raising the sales tax.

Anyone with a different plan should get it to him quickly, "preferably early next week...so we can be ready to go with a special session on Nov. 21," Dayton said, adding, "It's incumbent on Minneapolis to put together a proposal that's more attractive, for whatever reasons, than Arden Hills..."

So hold on tight. The Vikings stadium roller coaster is just cranking up to the top. Expect a big, twisting speedy ride the next few weeks.

OK, we'll end the day with a little bit of snark from Twitter, where someone took the question of Minnesota possibly spending the state's cultural "legacy funds" on the Vikings.

Will the new Vikings Stadium be used as free rehearsal space for theater artists when they aren't playing games? Just wondering.
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No vuvuzelas, please.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.