The 15-year saga surrounding Vikings’ permanency in Minnesota took a large leap towards the finish line earlier this week. Officials unveiled the design for the team’s new stadium — a futuristic, sloping glass-covered structure similar to the Sandcrawler transports used by Jawas in the Star Wars movies.
While the proposed billion-dollar facility isn’t as other-worldly as the Atlanta Falcons proposed stadium, its pragmatic elements will allow downtown Minneapolis to once-again play host to marquee events such as the Final Four and the Super Bowl.
The stadium plans have also provided an economic jolt to the moribund downtown east region of the city. A flurry of real estate speculation surrounding the proposal and a new $400 million development plan are positive first steps toward revitalizing the neighborhood.
So now that we can all kick up our feet, relax and enjoy the Vikings playing in their new space age stadium, right?
Unfortunately, there’s still the issue looming of how this will be paid for. With the legislative session ending next Monday and a virtual silence coming out of the state capitol chambers, there is good reason to be alarmed.
The electronic pulltabs and bingo games that were promised to magically raise $35 million per year have proven to be a pipe dream promoted by gambling interests and assorted yes-men. Now the state is trying to salvage the scheme by spending more money on marketing the games and enticing people to play them. Nevermind that Minnesota’s gambling market is already one of the more saturated in the country due to multitude of Native-American owned casinos, leaving little room for new entrants to take hold.
Plan B, should the pulltab scheme fail, was supposed to be a tax on sports apparel. However, the Senate is now refusing to get onboard with it due to revelations that the tax would harm Target — the mega retailer based in the Twin Cities. With just days until the session ends, our officials in St. Paul have no solution on the table.
Governor Dayton and his colleagues promised Minnesotans that the stadium would not be funded out of the general treasury. Unless they can concoct an eleventh hour deal to raise the revenue needed to close the shortfall, it’s looking increasingly likely.