Tuesday, November 21, 2017

mark dayton

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One year and one day ago, the Minnesota Vikings were in the middle of a battle to secure funding for their new stadium, and gambling was proposed as the best way to get it.

Despite never ever wanting to see the Vikings leave Minnesota I penned an article entitled “Weigh The Gambling Option Carefully, Minnesota” where I discussed the historical gap between gambling revenues promised for such projects and what the actual numbers end up being.

If a person is too poor to buy that new Silverado,” I said in closing the article, “there isn’t a financial adviser in the world that would advise that person to head to the casino to raise funds for the vehicle.  Perhaps, if the tax revenue isn’t there and a $323 million surplus is already spent, then the State should consider not placing such a risky bet… with your money.”

As it turns out, it was decided that the public money supporting the stadium project would be raised in large part by gambling, the most volatile of all possible funding mechanisms and things are not off to a good start.

The revenue generated to date is far below what was projected.  According to 1500 ESPN, as of February 1st only 130 sites were offering the electronic pulltabs devised to fund the stadium, and it was projected to be up to 900 by this time.  Furthermore, those sites are generating significantly less revenue on a daily basis than was projected, causing estimates to drop from $206 a day to $100.

As of right now, the stadium project is costing more than the State is bringing in.

Governor Mark Dayton and other lawmakers are concerned about this issue, but many see little reason to panic, claiming the games simply need to be marketed better and need more time to gain attention.

Dayton could find himself in an interesting position, as the champion of the Vikings stadium project and gambling revenue source, as he may need to search for an alternative funding source for the stadium if things continue to unfold this way.

One of those sources of revenue, and perhaps the most likely  could end up being the Personal Seat Licenses that he so staunchly opposed not that long ago.

“The People’s Stadium” is named as such simply because it will be constructed entirely of the nerves and patience of Vikings fans.

With nothing left to do but design and build the damned thing, Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton opened a can of worms on Tuesday by sending a scathing letter to the Vikings organization regarding the team’s intent to use Personal Seat Licenses as a funding avenue.

“I strongly oppose shifting any part of the team’s responsibility for those costs onto Minnesota Vikings fans,” Dayton said in the letter sent to the Wilfs. “This Private Contribution is your responsibility, not theirs.”

The legislation passed to build the stadium does include provisions allowing the team to levy PSL’s, as has been very well laid out here by 1500 ESPN, but Dayton appoints the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission and could potentially have enough pull to throw a big wrench into everything.

The truth is that this whole issue came about because the team sent out a survey seeking input on the new stadium, and one of these questions was about PSL’s, a commonly used fee around the nation.  The Vikings were not very happy with this issue being the news of the day, and made a statement later on Tuesday.

“The Minnesota Vikings greatly appreciate Governor Mark Dayton’s support for the new multi-purpose stadium for the Vikings and the State of Minnesota. However, we are disappointed by his recent letter to the team, which does not recognize a key component of the stadium agreement struck by the Vikings, State and Local leaders this past spring.

The stadium bill, and the prior term sheet, that was negotiated with the Vikings over the last two legislative sessions by the Governor’s own representatives and legislative leaders, includes provisions that expressly authorize the sale of stadium builder’s licenses and include the proceeds of any sale in the project budget. Stadium builder’s licenses were vetted by the Legislature, testified to by Vikings and State of Minnesota negotiators, and most importantly, specifically reflected in the stadium legislation that was passed and signed by the Governor.

The Vikings look forward to discussing this issue and moving forward with the agreement that was completed after many long years of effort.”

I’m not sure what exactly Dayton is trying to accomplish here.  If the Vikings now gouge extra dollars out of Minnesotans through the use of PSL’s, via the stadium legislation he endorsed, then he looks foolish.

However, if he now backs down after creating such a stir, then looks, umm… foolish.

Oh, and all of this has really only come up because he drew attention to it which makes him look… well, you get the point.

The truth is that I have yet to hear an NFL observer or Vikings fan that is really surprised by the fact that the team could utilize PSL’s.  In the world of new NFL stadiums it is pretty much the norm.

Unfortunately for America in general, politicians opposing the very things they campaign for (or campaigning for the very things they oppose) has also become the norm.

It is too bad that more people don’t find red tape interesting, because then Dayton could sell PSL’s at the State Capitol to pay for the $60 million in improvements to the building that were approved around the same time as the stadium.

If he could, I’m willing to bet he would.

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