Viewpoint: People’s (Vikings) Stadium plan in the works

A new People’s (Minnesota Vikings) Stadium plan is in the works. Question: Will the people help pay for a stadium they say they oppose financing with tax dollars?

During a visit to the Capitol a week ago, legislative leaders were reluctant to talk about spending any state money for a stadium with a retractable roof.

They said the budget, the people’s business, is top priority. There’s a $5 billion hole in the budget that needs attention.

Aware that in poll after poll, residents say they love the Vikings but opposing use of tax money to build it, so it’s a tough vote for legislators who love the purple.

It’s even tougher for the Republican majority and Gov. Mark Dayton because they must make it happen.

This is the last session of the Minnesota Legislature before the lease runs out for the Vikings at the Metrodome in 2012.

And, the Vikings insist they are leaving the domed stadium because they can’t make enough money playing in it. A remodeled dome is out of the question.

The buzz behind the scenes is someone will make this happen with a plan to tax visiting players’ income with a surcharge, a tax on Vikings shirts and caps sold at the ball park and revenue from naming the new stadium.

The Vikings are willing to fund at least a third of the projected $900 million park, and they don’t care if there is a roof on it.

So, it comes down to having a host city willing to take on a tax in their city or county, just as Hennepin County did for Target Field.

Isn’t it interesting Target Field gets all the rave notices, and you don’t hear a peep out of people who are paying for it every time they buy something in Hennepin County.

Anoka County was willing to be a host, but Minneapolis, fearing the loss of the downtown stadium, stopped that.

Minneapolis already is the host for Target Center and they want money to remodel it.

St. Paul and the state are still paying for the Xcel Center.

Ramsey County is interested if the site is the old ammunitions-making site in Arden Hills.

A People’s Stadium, as the governor calls it, has a nice ring to it, if people are willing to pay taxes for it. Such a People’s Stadium would host other events — sports tournaments, auto shows and all the other entertainment now in the Metrodome — 250 days’ worth.

It’s an easy vote for most legislators, if one city or county is willing to levy the special tax and take the heat.

The bottom line is why not use all that talked-about revenue and taxes to help poor and vulnerable people? No matter what’s taxed, be it baseball caps and shirts and yearbooks, it’s real people’s money that either could go to fund schools, health care and universities, or a stadium? — Don Heinzman, ECM Publishers


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