On Tuesday December 3rd, while preparations for the Vikings Stadium groundbreaking ceremony were underway, a coalition of groups whose focus is fiscal responsibility met at the state capitol to voice their concerns about the public funding of the Stadium. The Taxpayers League of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Americans for Prosperity, Minnesota Chapter all pointed to weaknesses in the funding mechanism for the Stadium and vowed to keep watching to see if there are any “fixes” that would impact taxpayers offered in the coming legislative session, as previously suggested by Senator Tom Bakk.
Legislators as well as other activists who held signs and showed their opposition to taxpayer funding for the new Vikings Stadium joined the groups.
Ted Lillie, president of the Taxpayers League said “even though they are breaking out the ceremonial shovels, that’s a hollow gesture for show. This is not a done deal. It isn’t paid for yet.” He added, “The Governor and the Revenue Commissioner want to insist that the Stadium is not being paid for with general fund money, that it’s “new money.” But that’s a distinction without a difference. That is money that would otherwise be going to the state treasury; it’s just being diverted to pay for the stadium.”
Minnesota Majority President Dan McGrath said, “Using a regressive tobacco tax to pay for the stadium is a gross injustice. Taxing the poor to boost the value of a billionaire’s business is obscene. Besides which, the October Revenue Forecast from Minnesota Management and Budget shows that that cigarette revenues are down 21%. That doesn’t bode well for cigarette taxes as a stable source of funding, so they’re probably going to have to hit taxpayers yet again.”
On November 23, the Minnesota Stadium Authority met and signed on to funding its share of the billion-dollar stadium. The State’s portion is estimated to be $348 Million and the city of Minneapolis’ contribution is $150 Million. The state is going to be issuing $498 in bonds, with the combined input of the State and the city.
Lillie concluded, “We need to let our legislators know that even if there is broad agreement on a stadium, we are going to continue to watch for changes to ‘the deal’ so that it doesn’t get any worse for the taxpayers of Minnesota.”