ST. PAUL – A potential statewide funding source for a Preston veterans’ home has come from an unexpected location: U.S. Bank Stadium.
On April 18, chairs of the Minnesota House State Government Finance Committee and Veterans’ Affairs Division announced they will sponsor legislation that would help fund the construction of three veterans’ homes in Minnesota – Preston, Montevideo and Bemidji – by using existing state revenue currently sitting in a stadium reserve fund.
State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) said it’s a brilliant idea.
“Veterans’ homes are needed in all corners of the state, and this bill eliminates picking winners and losers by utilizing already-collected revenue from stadium reserves to fund them all,” Davids said.
With financial backing from the state and local communities, the federal government will cover 65 percent of the veterans homes’ cost. Though the House State Government Finance bill included funding for these homes last year, Governor Dayton vetoed the bill.
The Vikings stadium reserve that would be used to fund the veterans homes currently has an excess balance of $58 million. The reserve is expected to grow to $120 million by the end of fiscal year 2021.
Under the bill, the stadium reserve account would be capped at 125% of the annual payments of the stadium bonds. The House bill ensures excess funds are put to use rather than sitting idle while still protecting against a drop in revenues. Currently, there is no cap on the amount of the reserve.
Governor Dayton has previously referred to U.S. Bank Stadium as “the people’s stadium.” By utilizing existing funds that are far above what is needed to operate the facility, Davids said this money can be used to construct “the people’s veterans’ homes” in Preston and elsewhere.
“The stadium reserve account is projected to grow substantially over the next few years, so I would hope Governor Dayton would agree it’s time to prioritize the needs of those who fought for our country,” Davids said. “This is a common sense solution to an overwhelming statewide problem, and I hope it will receive strong bipartisan support.”
Davids said the funding proposal will be included as part of a comprehensive state government finance budget bill that will be debated on the House floor in the weeks ahead.