Absolute Zero

Remember the e-pulltabs? The magical funding device that would pay for the Vikings stadium, or so we were told? Bupkis:

Electronic gambling, which hit Minnesota bars with great fanfare last September, did not raise a dime for the glassy new Vikings football stadium this year.

Minnesotans plunked down $15 million over the past year to play the electronic games, but 85 percent bounced back to players as prizes, new state figures show. That left about $2 million to be divided among charity expenses, donations and taxes — nowhere near the original projection of $35 million in taxes for the first year.

Well, how do you like that? Over to you, Governor Dayton:

Gov. Mark Dayton, who made a Vikings stadium a top priority, said the year’s track record confirms that the e-pulltab funding formula was a gamble.

“To take an untried source of revenue for the sole source of funding for a major project is ill-advised,” he said Friday. “That’s my number one take-away from this.”

But, Dayton said, “We made an honest mistake and corrected it.”

Can’t sneak much past the Gov, eh? I do have to quibble with one thing. This wasn’t an honest mistake. It was crap from the get-go and anyone who was paying attention knew that. Thankfully, the Star Tribune calls one of the four Rotating Sages of Local Academe* to explain the obvious to its thankful readership:

Political analyst David Schultz said e-gambling has served its purpose. It got a Vikings stadium bill through the Legislature. He remains incredulous that nobody in government knew that the sales projections were so off or that they had come from the gambling industry.

When ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise, Professor. They didn’t want to think about the truth, because truth doesn’t get the Vaseline Dome built. I might add that the time to be incredulous was about 18 months ago, but I suppose that’s not nice, either. Better Minnesota, kids. Better Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Dayton continues to fume about something else he supposedly didn’t understand:

But in a letter Monday to the Minnesota Sports Facilities chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen, Dayton urged the authority to make sure the owners and team contribute “significant equity” to the project, and not rely heavily on personal seat license fees
“I strongly urge you to negotiate a final financial agreement, which requires the Vikings’ owners to provide a significant share of their financial contribution from their own resources, and not from Vikings’ fans through the sale of expensive personal seat licenses,” Dayton wrote.

In other words, he wants to change the terms of the deal, yet again. Not surprisingly, the Vikings are telling Dayton to piss up a rope.

Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said the price of seat licenses is among a handful of items still at issue in the team’s negotiations with the authority. “These licenses were discussed during the legislative process, they were anticipated and authorized by the legislation,” Bagley said.

So the upshot is that you have to pay the Vikings to get into the People’s Stadium. It’s only fair — Lester Bagley and Zygi Wilf are people, as far as we can tell.

Remember, Helga Braid Nation: smoke ’em if you got ’em. It’s gonna take a whole lotta smokin’ to get this thing built.

*The RSLA are Schultz of Hamline Law School, Larry Jacobs of the U, Kathryn Pearson of the U, and Steven Schier of Carleton. No political story in Minnesota can be reported without one of them weighing in.

Cross-posted and comments welcome at Mr. Dilettante’s Neighborhood.