Stadium still faces daunting road to passage

Minneapolis stadium rendering

The funding mechanisms for a proposed Vikings stadium are the latest aspects to come under attack. The numbers projected by proponents and opponents will likely be vastly different.

The Vikings stadium bill hit the State Legislature Monday and it may be facing its most daunting challenge to date, as state lawmakers try to agree on a funding proposal that will pay the state's share of the $975 million stadium.

The plan calls for electronic pull tabs and bingo to pay the state's share of the funding, but leaders have received significant opposition from state charitable gambling officials, who have stated the gap between the current funding for state charitable projects wouldn't be met if the anticipated loss of revenue for money created under the current system is diluted and diverted to electronic gambling in restaurants and bars.

The first significant hurdle in the 2012 Legislative session will be to get the committee vote needed to bring the bill to the full House and Senate. Stadium opponents have raised the issue that the funding mechanism isn't a stable, consistent form of revenue generation. Projections in the supporting materials for the bill claim that the use of video pull tabs and bingo would generate approximately $72 million a year with $10 million of that being diverted to charitable gaming tax relief – to help make up for the potential lost revenue electronic pull tabs would create.

If those numbers are accurate, the proposal would bring in more than $300 million in revenue in the first five years, which would have the state's contribution to the stadium more than half paid off before the doors to the new stadium would even open.

Claims are being made that $40 million a year would be needed by debt service payments on the stadium.

Expect to see the numbers being thrown around by proponents and opponents of the stadium bill to be widely different and the rhetoric to start building as the bill comes into clearer focus. Many thought the hard part was over when a stadium proposal was agreed upon in the language of the bill. In fact, the past may just be prologue to the most difficult battle of all – getting the needed votes to pass a stadium plan.


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    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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