The Minnesota state legislature last year approved a financing plan for a new stadium for the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings. In doing so, it exploited a legal loophole to provide $348 million in taxpayer money for the project.
The revenues were supposed to come from revenues from new electronic pull-tab machines, but by January, it was already clear that those revenues weren’t keeping up with projections, meaning the new stadium was already turning into a financial nightmare before construction even began. Now, a Minnesota state representative is preparing to introduce legislation that would halt construction — and the bond sale meant to pay for it — until the state can guarantee that the pull-tabs will generate enough revenue to pay for it, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports:
Republican state Sen. Sean Nienow of Cambridge says he’ll introduce a bill that would delay the sale of bonds for a new Vikings stadium until a revenue stream to pay them off is secured.Additional tax revenue from newly authorized electronic forms of charitable gaming, which was supposed to pay the state’s share of the stadium, is coming in much slower than anticipated, and the backup sources aren’t expected to be able to produce more than a few million dollars per year.
Nienow says he and Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, plan to introduce the bill next week.
As we have documented here, stadiums consistently turn out as bad deals for taxpayers, as the promised revenue streams almost always come up short of projections and leave cities and states footing the bill, whether through increased debt, higher taxes, or cuts to public programs.
What makes Minnesota’s stadium different is that it became clear even before construction began that revenues meant to pay for the stadium aren’t going to come close to covering the cost. While Nienow’s legislation wouldn’t abandon the stadium plan altogether, it would still force the state to find actual revenue to pay for the stadium, though that will still leave taxpayers footing the bill so the Vikings’ wealthy owner can make more money from a stadium than he could have made from the old one. (HT Field of Schemes)