Up-front warning: This is as political as I'm going to allow this site to be, because it's a Vikings' blog, not a politics blog. The comments are for discussing the stadium initiative for the Vikings that's been brought up. If the comments start turning into a big political flame war, I will close them immediately. You've been warned.
The Vikings have been trying to get a new stadium for quite some time, as we all know. The Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Golden Gophers have new stadiums that are coming online in the next couple of years, but the Vikings are sort of stuck in the Metrodome until their lease expires in 2011. After that, if some sort of action isn't taken, they might be the Minnesota Vikings. . .and, then again, they might not.
However, a combination of the current state of the economy and the desire of Minnesota legislators to sit with their thumbs firmly lodged in their rear ends in lieu of coming up with an actual solution has seemingly increased the likelihood of the Beloved Purple possibly leaving the Twin Cities for greener pastures. Fortunately, one legislator has finally decided to stand up and say, "Hey. . .maybe we should do something about this."
Tom Hackbarth, a Republican representative from Cedar, has proposed putting such a measure on the ballot in 2010. Such an initiative would require an amendment to the State Constitution. Hackbarth said that bonds would be issued to finance the construction of the stadium. . .which would begin immediately after the initiative passes. . .and that the Vikings would have to sign a 30-year lease with the facility.
Not surprisingly, there are some prominent state leaders that aren't on board with this whole thing. The Speaker of the House has said that she doesn't find the measure to be appealing, and a spokesperson for Governor Tim Pawlenty has said that the Governor isn't interested in gaming.
See, this is what gets me about stuff like this. The usual course of action for getting a stadium built in the past has been an increase in some sort of sales tax or some other form of tax, which many people instinctively jump up and down and get angry about. That's understandable. . .people don't like money being taken out of their pockets for something that they may or may not be on board with. This initiative, however, doesn't do that. Not everybody uses the casino, but they are tourist attractions that attract people from significant distances away, and can raise a boatload of cash in a hurry.
Right now, Mrs. Gonzo and I live near Biloxi, MS, which is the third biggest gaming area in the U.S. behind Vegas and Atlantic City. And let me tell you. . .we love heading for the occasional evening at the casino. Now, neither of us are Mississippi residents, but the money we spend there ends up helping the state of Mississippi, and the parking lots and garages of the casinos always have lots of cars from neighboring states parked in them. Their money helps Mississippi, too. The tax revenue that the casinos down here generate results in millions of dollars in taxes going into the state coffers, which in turn fund all sorts of other things.
I know full well that if this casino went up in Minneapolis or St. Paul, there's a good chance that my wife and I would patronize it on a trip to the Cities whether it supported a Vikings' stadium or not, simply because we enjoy slot machines and blackjack and that sort of stuff. The fact that the tax revenue would be going to keep the Vikings in the state would just be the cherry on the sundae.
Has anyone else heard anything of significance on this other than what the Star-Tribune has in the link above?
Feel free to discuss this potential stadium initiative here. . .and, remember, no political flame wars. The only reason this story is here is because it affects the Vikings directly.