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Horner & The Stadium: Lots of Backfield in Motion

Category: Tom Horner
Posted: 09/23/10 13:30

by Dave Mindeman

In Minnpost today, Jay Weiner has a good article that examines the Vikings stadium proposal from governor candidate, Tom Horner, ICR (Independent Corporate Republican).

Being a sports guy, Weiner diplomatically goes through all the provisions of Horner's proposal, trying to put the best construction on what is yet another potential corporate giveaway from a candidate who already wants to strip corporate taxes and regulations out of the Minnesota budget.

But, in the end, I think we end up with a plan that has numerous flaws and little chance of working as proposed.

For instance, the 40 year lease....

The length of the bond is tied to Horner's notion that a new lease should last for 40 years. That is, if it's going to take four decades to pay off this stadium, then the team has to commit to play there for that long.

A 40 year payoff means a 40 year lease. Both premises fall flat. First of all, as Weiner points out, bond rating services are skeptical of terms longer than 30 years....and then there is the age of the stadium -- the Metrodome is only 30 years old itself and we talk about it like it was a relic. A new stadium lasting 40 years is impossible.

Then there is the Vikings 40% contribution....

Horner said, he envisions a stadium in which the Vikings control a limited number of dates, pay one-third of the operating costs "and the public gets all of the rest of the revenue ? As a starting point, I think this is fair to the Vikings."

But the problem is....

Horner would seek 40 percent of the stadium's funding from the team. This is slightly more than the Twins' contribution at Target Field and, generally speaking, a bit more than most other NFL teams have put into public-private shared projects.

The Vikings haven't said much about that 40% contribution one way or the other. They can't really criticize it without stopping the conversation. But do you really think the team is going to pay that much considering almost no other sports teams have made such a sizable contribution? And with 40% ownership, they would only get revenue from the dates where they play (10 per year)?

I have to believe that Horner and the Vikings are playing us on this one. They put out that figure as a way to make it "look" viable and keep the stadium viable until we get to the next legislative session.

We are being scammed.

And then there is the other "promises"....

Before he spoke in front of the Metrodome Sunday, Horner was introduced by Cory Merrifield, the organizer of a group called SaveTheVikes. Merrifield, a Vikings stadium proponent of the highest order, cited a report commissioned by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission that said a new stadium could generate more than 13,000 jobs.

When Target Field opened, the Twins touted this figure: 3,500 trades people, and an 800-person peak workforce. For the construction of the University's TCF Bank stadium, Mortenson Construction has said there were 2,200 trades people and a 750-person peak workforce. In speaking of a potential Vikings stadium, a Mortenson executive projected up to 8,000 jobs.

Merrifield has already shown that the Vikings stadium is the only priority that matters to him. He says he will support any candidate that supports s Vikings plan.....so right now, it must be Horner.

But, given that, Merrifield will also say or do almost anything to keep the Vikings in a favorable light; and the 13,000 jobs rhetoric is immensely "favorable" and downright untrue.

Granted, the construction jobs would be great, however many there are. But we also need to have an honest conversation about this stadium deal and Horner's plan is not completely honest.

We all want the Vikings to stay. Our Sunday afternoons in the fall are painted purple. But billionaire owners and millionaire players shouldn't have to rely on the budget challenged state of Minnesota to pay for this game.

And if Horner wants to play political games with us as well, then I think its time we called a few penalties.
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