Ramsey County has released the "term sheet" that lays out the principals of the deal hashed out between the Vikings and county officials this week.
It's an incredibly interesting document, if you're a stadium policy wonk, and has some interesting clues about where this whole thing might be headed.
Let's start at the back, on page 12.
THE COST FACTOR
The term sheet bottom-lines the project cost at $1.057 billion. But that's not really a firm figure if you read it closely. For one thing, it counts a "trade in" value for the Vikings old home at $15 million. That's a number the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has mentioned before, but its hard to know what 20 acres of clean downtown real estate with a light rail stop is really worth.
But there's another number there that's even MORE interesting. It's the site acquisition cost. The 430 acre TCAAP parcel being eyed for the project is listed as having a $30M price tag, to be split by the team and the county. What the document doesn't say: The county has already been given 113 acres of the overall TCAAP site for park land, and bought another chunk for $1 to site its public works operations. The GSA said Wednesday that the site hasn't formally been put up for auction yet.
And it might never be.
Keep an eye out for signs of a fire sale, potentially with the help of Rep. Betty McColllum, that gives the Vikings and Ramsey County a deep discount on the site, with some of the savings perhaps going to that pesky infrastructure problem or lowering the county sales tax contribution. McCollum has been seriously involved in the TCAAP before, and in 2003 even backed relocating post office operations from St. Paul to the site to help make room for rail development at the Union Depot. (Footnote here: East Metro policy wonks might remember that Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman took positions against that, back in their U.S. Senate days. Dayton might have indirectly helped save this site for the Vikings.)
Now, on to some other numbers...
PERSONAL SEAT LICENSES
Vikings owner Mark Wilf made a glancing reference to "personal seat licenses" at the announcement in Arden Hills this week. He said it might be considered down the road. But from the looks of the term sheet, it's been pretty seriously considered already. The clue? A caveat on page 6. Under "Team/Private Contribution" the deal says that if PSL sales "exceed $125 million," the margin goes to pay for overruns.
Someone has already crunched the numbers and has put a nine-figure total on those sales.
The initial section of the term sheet calls for a 65,000-seat stadium, and a subsequent provision calls for an unspecified number of "affordable" tickets that presumably wouldn't have a PSL. If there are 2,500 of those affordable seats, that means an average up-front PSL cost of $2,000 a seat for the privilege of buying game tickets.
Oh, and look here. That's right about what they're going for on the secondary market in a dozen other NFL cities.
GET IT FOR A DISCOUNT
The most interesting and puzzling number in this deal, though, isn't the PSL cost or the number of seats, or the infrastructure cost. It's another, buried on page 6. "Project Savings" says the heading. It gives the first $41 million in savings -- actual costs below budget -- to the Vikings. That aligns nicely with about a 10 percent discount on their $407 million contribution, so it may just be trivia that its a non-round number.
But someone at the negotiating table with the Vikings and Ramsey County was confident enough that there's a prize in the bottom of that box that they spelled out how to dole it out. They even put a top end on the figure: "The County and the Team shall share equally in the next $100 million in net project savings. The Team, County and State shall share equally in any net project savings greater than $141 million."
Maybe it's just the equivalent of the office pool imagining what they'll do if they win the lottery. But someone has made contingency plans if that $1.057 billion turns out to be high.
It's yet another indication that there may be more money in this deal than at first blush.
WHO'S THE BOSS?
And remember how this is supposed to be a "people's stadium?" Let's take a look at the people who will really run it. The term sheet calls for a 5-member stadium authority, modeled on the Twins' Target Field. The kicker? The Vikings stadium chair would be appointed not by the governor - as is the case with the Metrodome's Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission - but by the Ramsey County board.
There didn't seem much love left to lose between Ramsey County commissioner Tony Bennett and the MSFC chair Ted Mondale this week. In the May 5 Star Tribune:
Bennett said that Mondale was "supposed to be neutral, but everything I hear is that he's only pushing the Dome site. It frustrates me because we haven't had any help from him in putting together a deal."
Frustrating the guy who championed the deal might be a hurdle to winning the chair's job from the Ramsey County board if the Arden Hills deal comes to pass.
Of course, the governor and the Legislature might change that governance language in the final deal, and Mondale was a former state Senator. So that stipulation may not be the last word on the subject of legal authority.
There are a LOT of outs to this deal, the most subjective of which is "Timing and level of Business Community support acceptable to the Team." That's a lot of unilateral leeway.
It's familiar territory for east Metro stadium boosters. Back in 2002, St. Paul got a custom-tailored Twins stadium bill out of the Legislature. Talks between the city and team went on for months, but collapsed July 11, 2002, when then-mayor Randy Kelly said he wouldn't put a tax referendum on the ballot unless the Twins signed an exclusivity agreement with the city.
They wouldn't. He didn't. And now the team is taking its lumps next to Sharing and Caring Hands, instead of the Dorothy Day Center
In short, even if this thing makes it out of the Capitol, there are probably ways for the Vikings deal to go wrong that no one has even thought of yet.(2 Comments)
Posted at 6:21 AM on May 12, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The Minnesota Senate approved a constitutional amendment that would require voters to decide whether the state constitution should ban gay marriage.
Here's how the Senate voted.
The Star Tribune Poll shows a big show of support for Voter ID.
The House and Senate are still no closer to reaching a budget deal with Governor Dayton. The DNR Commissioner says he's dusting off the agency's 2005 shutdown plans.
The House and Senate reached a tentative agreement on a K12 budget bill that is all but certain to be vetoed if it reaches Dayton's desk.
Tidbit: Expect other conference committees to start getting budget targets as early as today.
Senate committees will take up Gov. Dayton's cabinet picks for Public Safety and the PUC.
The Vikings could face an uphill battle at the Legislature on the Ramsey County site.
Ramsey County residents consider the implications of a Vikings Stadium.
The Minnesota House voted in favor of a bill that would allow Minnesota to buy electricity from coal plants from North Dakota and other states.
GOP leaders are questioning MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton's ties to a gambling group that gets tribal funds.
The U.S. budget deficit is on track to exceed $1 trillion.
Osama Bin Laden allegedly kept a journal that outlined other terrorist plots.
More than 75 professors at Catholic universities wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner criticizing the GOP budget for hurting the poor, the sick and the elderly.
An FCC Commissioner leaves her post to lobby for Comcast - just months after she voted to approve Comcast's merger with NBC.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and DFL Sen. Al Franken are questioning the CEOs about the proposed wireless merger.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson and DFL Rep. Tim Walz join the push for oil drilling.
Peterson raps a bill that delays regulation of oil speculators.
Race for President
Newt Gingrich announced his run for the White House.
Mitt Romney is scheduled to give a speech on health care.
Mitch Daniels decision may come down to one vote: His wife's vote.
Tim Pawlenty will be in Iowa over the next two days.
He praised GOP House Speaker John Boehner for taking a tough stand on the debt ceiling.
Nate Silver says Pawlenty's name ID has increased but his poll numbers aren't budging.
Speaking of polls, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows President Obama leading every GOP candidate. He's beating Pawlenty by 18 points and GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann by 21 points.
Rep. Michele Bachmann saw the infamous pictures of terror leader Osama Bin Laden's corpse today, making her one of a small number of lawmakers to see the pictures.
Bachmann saw the pictures at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters this morning. She is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the CIA.
In a statement, she said, "I am convinced that this was bin Laden. We got our man."
Navy Seals took pictures of Bin Laden's body after their successful raid on his hideout in Pakistan May 1, but the White House has so far refused to make the pictures available to the public. According to an NBC poll, two thirds of Americans agree with President Obama's decision not to release the pictures, but many Republicans have called on the Administration to release them.
Here's the full statement from Bachmann's office:
Today, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-06), a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after seeing the Osama bin Laden photos at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters:
"This morning at the CIA headquarters I saw the photos of a dead Osama bin Laden. I am convinced that this was bin Laden. We got our man.
"While these photos provide certainty of bin Laden's identity, I also believe the best evidence of bin Laden's identity is found through the release of the terrorist's DNA match.
"Going forward, I urge our intelligence sectors and the United States military to remain vigilant against terror as they continue to fulfill the government's Constitutional role to provide for the common defense of its citizens."
Posted at 12:50 PM on May 12, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chair Ted Mondale says the Vikings have the ball in the stadium debate and that the state is waiting for them to close the financial gap. Here's what he told MPR's Elizabeth Dunbar this afternoon.
"You've got a site from the perspective of the Vikings that works. We have a funding gap as it exists of this moment of approximately $175 million of state highway money, and may be as high as $240 million. I'm not sure if that number goes down later this afternoon. I know there's a lot of discussions with Ramsey and MnDOT. But at this point, that's where it stands. The Vikings have selected a local partner, there's a funding gap. Nobody's quite clear how to resolve that."
Ramsey County officials say they're trying to crack the infrastructure nut. But they don't seem to have the clear solution: more money.
That seems to leave the Vikings or (or someone on their behalf) to sweeten the pot. But Mondale says he thinks its their deal to make or break at this point:
"I don't see interest on behalf of the main legislators and the governor at this point of saying you have to go here," Mondale said. "I don't think anyone's talking about forcing the team into a deal."
The blog, Political Party Time, says DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar will hold a fundraiser at the Glee! Live in Concert show at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. in June. Klobuchar is asking attendees to pay $2,000 to attend the event - roughly $1900 more than the asking price for a ticket to the event.
80 Republican state lawmakers have signed on to an Amicus Brief that challenges the federal health care law. The brief means lawmakers are lending their support to a challenge to the law in U.S. District Court in Florida. The suit challenges the cosntitutionality of the individual mandate that requires everyone in the U.S. to have health insurance.
"State Legislators take an oath to uphold our state and federal Constitution, and it is our duty to not be complicit in allowing the federal government to violate the Commerce Clause and Tenth Amendment-no matter how good or bad the legislation is," said Rep. Westrom in a news release. "Today, we are defending states' rights and standing up for individual freedoms our Constitution intentionally intended to reserve to the people and states."
This isn't the first Amicus Brief filed by a Republican from Minnesota. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty filed a similar brief in November.
Democracts, including Attorney General Lori Swanson, say the federal health care is constitutional because the federal government has the right to regulate health insurance under the interstate commerce clause.(2 Comments)
Minnesota Republicans are aiming to put issues on the ballot in 2012 election, among them a constitutional amendment that would define marriage in Minnesota as only between a man and a woman.
"I know that 78 percent...of the people in Minnesota want this decision to be given to them on a ballot," said bill sponsor Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, during an April 26, 2011, press conference.
Limmer's numbers are coming from one poll commissioned by groups that support a statewide vote on the issue.
The Senate has approved the amendment, and the House is expected to. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, but Limmer and other supporters of the bill say that changing the state constitution is necessary to prevent the law from being overturned.
One recent poll backs Limmer's contention that a broad majority of the public wants the issue on the ballot, about 74 percent of Minnesota voters. (Limmer's spokeswoman Susan Closmore said that he incorporated the 4 percentage point margin of error when making the statement.)
But it's important to highlight where those numbers are coming from. The poll, which surveyed about 600 Minnesota voters Jan. 10-13, 2011, was commissioned by the Minnesota Family Council and the National Organization for Marriage, two organizations that support the amendment.
Furthermore, the company hired to conduct the poll, Lawrence Research, is operated by pollster Gary Lawrence, who, according to news reports in the Minnesota Independent and the Washington Post, organized
members of the Mormon Church Mormons in support of Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution that prevents gay marriage from being recognized by the state. Lawrence did not return calls to provide more details on his polling results.
So, Limmer is basing his claim on one poll commissioned by organizations that support putting a marriage amendment to a vote.
There's little current information for comparison, but polls done in 2009 and 2010 provide some context:
• A 2009 KSTP/SurveyUSA poll found that only 52 percent of Minnesotans would support a statewide vote to ban gay marriage.
• A 2010 Minnesota Public Radio News/Humphrey School of Public Affairs poll showed that 49 percent of Minnesotans oppose same-sex marriage.
• A 2009 Star Tribune poll found that a third of Minnesotans would support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.
Limmer's claim is rooted in a survey commissioned by two groups that have a stake in the debate over same-sex marriages. Because there are no other current polls to compare Limmer's numbers to, this PoliGraph test rates an inconclusive.
TheUptake, Constitutional Amendment Defining Marriage Press Conferences, April 26, 2011
The Minnesota Family Council, Let the people vote on marriage!, by Chuck Darrell, April 14, 2011
The Star Tribune, Minnesota Poll: A Subtle shift on gay unions, by Mark Brunswick, May 1, 2009
Minnesota Public Radio News, Poll shows slight shift in gay marriage opinions, by Tim Pugmire, Sept. 28, 2006
Results of KSTP/SurveyUSA Poll, May 11, 2009
Minnesota Public Radio News, MPR-Humphrey Poll: Obama could struggle in MN in 2012, by Mark Zdechlik, Sept. 30, 2010
Smart Politics, How Supportive Are Minnesotans of Gay Rights?, by Eric Ostermeier, Oct. 11, 2009
The Humphrey School(3 Comments)
Nine Minnesota State University, Mankato students walked the 88 miles from Mankato to the State Capitol in St. Paul to highlight the need for state funding for higher education. The students started their trek on Monday. They avoided Tuesday night's nasty weather, were stopped by police in Lakeville (who were following up on a report of suspicious activity) and saw "some random guy" walking out of the woods.
"From our point of view it's important to invest in higher education because we are the future," said Moriah Miles, a junior studying Pre-law and International Relations. "We're the workforce of tomorrow. We're going to make this economy."
Gov. Dayton and several DFL lawmakers were on hand to greet the students after they climbed the Capitol steps.
"I will do everything I can to protect the funding for Minnesota State Mankato and other higher education instttutions," Dayton told the students.
Rep. Bud Nornes, R, Fergus Falls, also welcomed the students.
"We're doing as much as we can to ensure that we don't do any harm to students," Nornes said.
Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL,Mankato, and Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL, Mankato, also welcomed the students.
It's still unknown what the fate of higher education funding or most other budget matters will be.
Dayton is at odds with GOP lawmakers over the best way to craft a two year budget. Dayton is proposing an income tax increase on Minnesota's top earners to balance the state's budget. Republicans say they can erase the $5 billion projected budget deficit through spending cuts.
Dayton and GOP lawmakers are no closer to reaching a budget agreement. Republicans appear to be ramping up their work on the joint House/Senate conference committees. I'll post more once GOP legislative leaders release the targets for each budget area.
Posted at 4:15 PM on May 12, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of Congressmen - including Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz and Republican Erik Paulsen - have introduced a bill to expand offshore oil and gas production.
The Jobs and Energy Independence Act would expedite the process for issuing oil and gas exploration leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
Over 20 years, the group estimates the proposed bill would generate between $2.2 and $3.7 trillion worth of revenue from leases and production royalties.
That money would fund a variety of priorities, including infrastructure, renewable energy and deficit reduction.
Walz, who was one of about two dozen Democrats to vote with Republicans this week on a series of bills to expand offshore drilling, said the bill is one way for the United States to wean itself from imported oil.
"Spending nearly a half a trillion dollars a year to countries that hate us is insane. They will hate us for free," Walz said. "We can keep the jobs at home. We can create those jobs that make good, good living wages and we can start moving on that energy independence."
Republicans touted the measure as a way to avoid raising taxes while demonstrating a willingness to fund alternative energy and transportation projects.
"This legislation would not only increase domestic exploration, but would also invest in clean American energy and our aging infrastructure," said Rep. Erik Paulsen.
But the bill does face hurdles.
There are currently has no co-sponsors from the Gulf Coast, which would see offshore drilling expand and which is still recovering from last year's BP oil spill.
Also, none of the bipartisan group's members could say whether Congressional leadership will push the bill along.
GOP legislative leaders are delivering budget targets to committee chairs with the hopes that lawmakers can finish their work by the constitutional deadline to adjourn. Leaders are mum on what their budget plan will look like but those figures will be released as budget conference committees meet over the next two days. They say they won't discuss the details of their proposal until it's presented to Gov. Dayton.
"We want to make sure that everyone in that group has been informed before the press," GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers said. "So they don't get a 'Hey, here's what happened by press release."
Zellers would not say how much the GOP budget bills spend over the next two years. Neither would GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.
"We're going to live within our means," Koch repeatedly said when asked what the Republican budget proposal would be. That's a departure from past statements that Republicans would not spend more than $34 billion over the next two years.
Koch also declined to release the spending targets for each budget area. Instead, she said those figures would be released by the respective conference committee chairs. She characterized those figures as "working targets."
Republicans have been adamant that they won't increase taxes to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. That puts them at odds with Gov. Mark Dayton who is proposing state spending of $37 billion over the next two years. Dayton is proposing an income tax increase on Minnesota's top earners to help balance the budget.
The decision to move forward with budget targets is a concession to Gov. Dayton that the GOP majorities in the House and Senate present a single budget to him. The House and Senate passed their respective budgets in early April but Dayton told them he wouldn't begin negotiating until they worked out their differences in conference committees. Dayton told reporters earlier today that he was willing to accept the conference committee reports as a final budget plan.
"In the spirit of trying to work this out I won't require the conference committee reports to be passed," Dayton said. "But I'm willing to begin those negotiations once I see their entire budget."
Conference committee chairs scheduled hearings on Thursday night and Friday morning with the intention of finalizing their budget plans. The chair of the State Government Finance Conference Committee announced that group will release the details of its plan on Friday morning. The K-12 education conference committee has already agreed to spend $14 billion over the next two years.
Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, says he expects the Health and Human Services Conference Committee to wrap up tonight. Abeler says the committee's "working target" will be $10.7 billion over the next two years.
Abeler says Republicans are still pursuing a "global waiver" from the federal government to restructure the way the state provides health care to low income Minnesotans, but won't bank most of the savings from the waiver unless it's approved. Republicans were suggesting that a waiver would save the state upwards of $600 million. Abeler says the House and Senate will still ask the federal government to allow Minnesota to administer health care programs differently.
"As to savings in the bill related to that, we have hardly any," Abeler said. "It's under $100 million and probably less than that."
Abeler said there will be some unspecified program cuts and rate cuts to balance the budget. He also said the plan would decrease payments to doctors and hospitals that are inefficient. He also said health care providers would receive less money from the state but would have "more flexibility" to treat patients. He also said he's aiming to better manage the needs of the disabled community so they can move to more independent care.
The House and Senate are still pushing a plan to end the Medicaid expansion that Gov. Dayton approved in January. Dayton said he would veto such a measure.
While the House and Senate appear to be close to wrapping up the HHS bill, it's no guarantee that the proposal will become law. The plan is still $1 billion less than Gov. Dayton's proposal.
"This could be done by May 23rd," Abeler said. "The question is whether they can agree on revenue."
And those negotiations may still be difficult. Abeler says Republicans won't support Dayton's tax increase to balance the budget. But he and other Republicans say they hope they can reach an agreement before the constitutional deadline to adjourn.
Democrats are less hopeful.
"The Republicans have refused to move," DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said when asked if a special legislative session was inevitable. "If they don't change their ways, absolutely."
The confirmation of former DFL state Senator Ellen Anderson as the new head of the Public Utilities Commission hit a snag today.
Republicans on the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications questioned Anderson for two hours, then voted 8 to 6 to send her confirmation to the full Senate without recommendation. Anderson is the first appointment of Governor Mark Dayton to run into opposition.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said Anderson's experience with energy issues has been agenda driven, with bias for and against types of energy.
"We'll take it to the floor and let the body have a good discussion about it," Rosen said. "But I think we clearly stated we have some major concerns, and it was good to hear some of the reasoning, but also left many other questions still in place."
If the Senate votes not to confirm her she would lose her job. During a lengthy two-hour hearing, lawmakers repeatedly asked Anderson about her previous political positions. But Anderson insisted she will keep an open mind at the PUC.
"We have a long tradition of appointing legislators to the Public Utilities Commission," Anderson said. "There's lots of other people that have served as well, but there have certainly been legislation appointed a number of times. And I think whatever party they're from and whatever their background is, they have all gone on to be able to set those views aside."
Anderson served 19 years in the Legislature, but Republican Senator Julie Rosen of Fairmont said the committee had major concerns about her appointment.
Earlier in the day, the state Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee unanimously supported the nomination Ramona Dohman to lead the Department of Public Safety.
State Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, says he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Thompson, a first term lawmaker who serves as Assistant Majority Leader, says several Republicans have approached him about a possible run. He said he won't make a final decision until the legislative session is over on May 23rd.
"You would have to get going relatively soon," Thompson said. "I would make that decision within a reasonably short time after session ends."
Thompson, a former radio host, said he intends to challenge Klobuchar's record and her support of President Obama if he decides to run.
"It would take a very strong effort to beat her," Thompson said. "I think the largest problem that she has is she is a supporter of an administration that has taken us to a level of deficits and national debt that most people consider unacceptable."
Thompson is the latest Republican to be mentioned as a possible challenger to Klobuchar but no one has officially announced a campaign against her. Klobuchar has high approval ratings in the state and is well financed. She's also considered one of the strongest Democratic incumbents to be running in 2012.