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House’s stadium bill facelift spells trouble

May 9, 2012
Marshall Independent

To call the House's version of the Vikings stadium bill revised is a whopper of an understatement.

The House on Monday spent the better part of eight hours introducing and voting on amendment after amendment after amendment to the original bill.

House members say that while it's not a perfect bill, its a better bill.

Like some of them, we're not so sure.

Better, yes, in that it shifts more of the financial responsibility away from the state and to the Vikings - $105 million more to be precise. But therein also lies the problem - in the end, will the Vikings be willing to accept the added financial burden? They've already said it's "not workable." Knee-jerk reaction? Perhaps, but it's pretty late in the game, and rather risky, to throw that kind of curveball at a team that has one foot out the door already. The House bill also made the team responsible for cost overruns and shared revenue from stadium naming rights. All this and we wonder if the House did nothing more than nudge the Vikes a little further out that door.

The state needs the Vikings more than the Vikings need Minnesota, and it will be interesting to see how the team reacts. The Vikings reportedly are already putting up one of the highest contributions an NFL team ever has for a new stadium; is it worth it to them to chip in another $105 million?

For taxpayers, that's an easy one: Of course it is, of course they should. The Wilfs can afford it and know a new stadium will greatly increase the overall value of the team. But the House is really poking at the bear here.

We also don't know if the funding plan - expanded, electronic gambling - will suffice. Various numbers are tossed about all the time, but in the end, these monies are not guaranteed; if revenue projections fall short, who picks up the slack? The state? Not good.

The House bill has some good in it and some bad and is sure to end up in committee along with the Senate version, and a new bill will be crafted to send to the governor's desk. It's likely Gov. Mark Dayton will waste little time in signing the bill; we just hope it's a win-win for everyone - not just our beloved Vikings and their billionaire owner.



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