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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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HELP THE VIKINGS WITHOUT TAXING THE PEOPLE

Thursday, May 06, 2010
This week, some lawmakers unveiled two proposals that would construct a new $791 million fixed roof stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. I thought I’d share the details with you today, followed by some of my thoughts regarding new stadium construction. The first idea, the “Purple Plan,” is also being labeled as “those who benefit from a stadium, pay for the stadium.” Under this proposal, the Vikings would be locked into a 40 year lease, and would pay $264 million, while the remaining $527 million would be financed by a 1.5% surtax on hotels and 2.5% surtax on rental cars in the seven-county metro area; a 6.875% tax on jersey purchases, and a sports-themed scratch off lottery game. These four revenue sources would generate $35.9 million per year. Also included is a provision that if the Vikings sell the team, the profits from the sale would pay the remaining state debt, and stadium construction is not site-specific. The “White Plan”, or the “no new taxes” proposal, would finance the stadium over 40 years at a cost of $47.5 million per year. This new stadium would be constructed at the current Metrodome site in Minneapolis. According to this bill, from 2011-2020 the Vikings would pay debt service for the new stadium - $420 million over 10 years – while proceeds from a new sports themed scratch off lottery game would be applied to the cost of the fixed roof. However, this deal is contingent on the City of Minneapolis allowing existing downtown entertainment taxes to be used from 2021–2050 to pay for the stadium. Currently, these taxes pay the debt on the Minneapolis Convention Center, but that is scheduled to end in the year 2020. The scratch off lottery ticket game would also continue to fund the stadium roof over that same time span. Along with a 40-year lease, the City of Minneapolis would own and operate the stadium. Personally, I support the type of state help for constructing a new Vikings stadium that does not force taxpayers to pay for it. People I talk to in House District 28B cannot stomach the notion of new tax revenues, collected against the will of the people and given to billionaire team owners. There are several ways to do this. Give a sales tax exemption towards the construction of the stadium. Offer operating tax exemptions on the new building. Provide an exemption from the prevailing wage law. Sell Vikings license plates to people who want to voluntarily opt in towards paying stadium expenses. Take existing lottery dollars for a period of time and re-route those funds, particularly since “the outdoors” is receiving $280 million each year as the result of the 3/8ths amendment that voters approved. But if a proposal arrives at the House floor, and it raises taxes to build a new Vikings stadium, you can count me as a “no.”