Posted at 8:33 PM on April 30, 2012
by Tim Nelson
An unlikely trio of Minnesota senators has been pushing for a new twist in Vikings stadium financing: user fees.
The issue nearly derailed the stadium last week, after a proposal for a sales tax from DFL Sen. Tom Bakk morphed into a measure that put the entire bill for state share of the Vikings stadium on fans and spectators.
The issue actually prompted the Senate Taxes committee to adjourn at one point, because no one had any idea of the burden the user fees might represent. Now, it looks like they have an idea: Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said an 18 percent levy on stadium activities -- including the Vikings share of NFL TV revenue -- would more than cover it. He said he's been working with Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, and Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, to refine the idea.
Howe said this afternoon that an estimate from the Minnesota Department of Revenue may even lower the user tax.
"Right now, it's an 18 percent user fee, to make [the state's stadium funding share] 100 percent user based, and we wouldn't have to do the charitable gambling electronic pull tabs," Howe said. "We're waiting to get that revenue estimate back, but it looks like it'll be less than 18 percent."
The plan drew strong objections from the Vikings last week. The team cited the deal it struck with the city of Minneapolis and the Dayton administration on March 1. That plan has the state share being paid by new tax revenue as the state's charitable gambling industry rises from about $900 million to $2.6 billion in sales.
I get why the Vikings think it would be money out of their pockets. It's not like people will be willing to pay more for a ticket, hot dog etc. because part of the higher price is tax. Yet as a fan and supporter of building the stadium, it seems fair and I'm willing to pay it.
Now can the legislature finally talk about adding an upper income surtax to pay part of the public cost? I define upper income as "able to afford the luxury boxes".