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Vikings need a plan if they want a new home, legislators say

December 18, 2010
By Per Peterson

The Minnesota Vikings should take a page out of the Twins' stadium playbook, area legislators said at Friday's 2011 legislative preview.

Even before last weekend, it was a given the stadium issue would rear its head sometime during the upcoming session.

And legislators are well aware that hot-button issue got hotter since the collapse of the Metrodome's roof.

And while the three area lawmakers at Friday's forum agree professional sports teams are important to the state, they're not ready to ask taxpayers to help foot the bill for a new home for the Vikings.

"We're already short 6 billion dollars; I'm not gonna go out and tell the people that I'm gonna raise your taxes 300 bucks this year so (Vikings owner) Zygi Wilf can have his stadium," District 22 Sen. Doug Magnus said.

Magnus, R-Slayton, said the Vikings need to present the Legislature with a plan of action, much like the Twins did in their long pursuit of a new ballpark.

"They have yet to put together a plan," Magnus said. "The Twins' plan took months of work, and in the end they did the right thing. They came to the Legislature and said, 'You've got one decision to make, you either support the plan or you don't. Simple decision.' That's what the Vikings need to do - put together a plan with a local partner."

"If the county and the city that it's built in want to partner with the team and get this done, that's great," District 21 Republican Sen.-elect Gary Dahms said. "As far as the state, the most I would ever feel comfortable committing to would be to some of the infrastructure getting to the site if they chose a site other than the Metrodome. Past that, I feel that there has to be a partnership like the Twins had. I feel pretty confident we'll have a new Vikings stadium but I think it's gonna take some time."

"The biggest question is what is the state's role?" Republican House 20A Rep.-elect Chris Swedzinski said.

Magnus said the state, including rural areas, benefits from having professional sports teams in Minnesota, not only because teams like the Twins and Vikings play a large role in our quality of life, but financially as well. The taxes collected by teams playing in Minnesota goes into the state's general fund for things like education and health care.

"We have what they call a 'jock tax,'" he said. "When the Yankees come to town they pay income tax here. Any team that comes in, their players, their coaches, everyone's spending a percentage of their income here. We have that income and other income the team generates and it benefits the state. We need to figure out what is a reasonable way to support these teams."

Magnus continued to tout the importance of pro sports teams, saying that when he visits nursing homes throughout the region, he can see how important teams like the Twins are to a significant part of the population.

"They can tell you how many wins (Twins pitcher) Carl Pavano's got," Magnus said. "They can tell you what Joe Mauer's batting average is, they can tell you how many home runs Justin Morneau's got. They watch it all the time. You go visit the nursing homes, they're watching the games. It's a quality of life issue."

The key to the Twins stadium, Magnus said, was that Hennepin County, the wealthiest county in the state and where Target Field calls home, is paying for two-thirds of the stadium with a sales tax. "And the city of Minneapolis paid in some money, so there was a partnership there," he said. "Counties outside of Hennepin County pay nothing for it, so rural Minnesota came out pretty good."

State Sen. Julie Rosen, a Republican from Fairmont, said earlier this week that she will introduce a stadium bill in January that includes user fees and other revenue streams but no state funds. The Vikings' Metrodome lease runs through the 2011 season.

DFL Gov.-elect Mark Dayton, who will meet with NFL Commissioner Rofer Goodell on Monday, has said any new stadium must benefit the people of Minnesota in the form of jobs and tax revenues. He won't support a plan that digs into the state's general revenue funds.

 
 

 

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