The new Minnesota Vikings stadium has as many problems as it will one day have seats. The revenues meant to finance it have already fallen short even before construction begins. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is facing massive fines for his involvement in a fraud and racketeering case in New Jersey. The Vikings, the benefactors of this all, are sacrificing some of the stadium’s luscious amenities because, well, “there’s only so many things” you can pay for with $975 million. The state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis, together financing more than half the cost, are scrambling to find more money.
None of those problems concern state Rep. Pat Garofalo (R) (fortunately, not the Pat Garofalo who used to work for ThinkProgress). Garofalo, instead, is upset that a provision in the new lease bans gun shops from becoming vendors in the new Vikings stadium, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Thursday (via Field of Schemes):
“This provision was never included in the Metrodome lease, was not included in the new Vikings stadium legislation and was not identified as an issue or a problem that needed to be addressed prior to this agreement,” said Garofalo, a Farmington Republican, in a letter to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which signed the lease and a development agreement with the Vikings last week.
He questioned why law-abiding businesses would be excluded from the new facility in downtown Minneapolis and wondered if the provision would prohibit hunting and outdoors events from taking place at the new stadium.
According to the chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, Michele Kelm-Helgen, Garofalo has his history wrong. Guns haven’t been allowed in the Metrodome, the Vikings’ current digs, since the state passed its concealed-carry law in 2005, Kelm-Helgen told the Pioneer-Press, adding that “nothing has changed policywise” at the new stadium. The ban likely won’t prohibit the hosting of gun and firearm shows at the new stadium either, she said.
Garofalo’s history isn’t the only thing wrong. Selling guns in a building where people consume copious amounts of alcohol and live on the emotional edge of football games and often get into fights and confrontations in the middle of large crowds of people is obviously a bad idea. Limiting where and when guns can be sold and who can buy them, particularly in public event space, isn’t an infringement on anyone’s rights. There are plenty of places to buy those weapons legally that aren’t football games with 73,000 people in attendance — 73,000 people who’d probably prefer that the drunk guy sitting two rows down isn’t waving his newly-acquired pistol in the face of the fan he’s arguing with over Leslie Frazier’s botched 3rd-and-short call. There are 106 players and a few dozen coaches, Frazier and Christian Ponder and the Green Bay Packers chief among them, who share that preference. Not being able to buy a gun at a football game isn’t a problem. Not in Minnesota, not in any universe.
If Garofalo wants to focus on a problem, he could look at the backdoor process that got the Vikings $498 million in public money to build a stadium that will further enrich billionaire swindler Zygi Wilf while handing the state and the city prolonged debt obligations that will inevitably lead to higher taxes and money cut or diverted from vital public programs. Instead, he’s focused on a problem that doesn’t exist.