For those following the debate on state funding for the Vikings stadium, you are already aware that the bill passed the House and Senate. It is now in the Conference Committee to resolve the differences, which are substantial. For those that contacted me along the way, thank you for weighing in! I appreciated reading and listening to all your comments.
I have been a fan of the Vikings since they played their first game at the old Met. They beat the Bears 37-13, I believe, when Fran Tarkenton came in relief of George Shaw and threw four TD passes. I’ve watched all four Super Bowls, seen the Hail Mary catch with Rashad, witnessed two NFC championship losses and hundreds of other games. However, this is not about being a fan. It is about how much to pay, who pays and are the numbers presented trustworthy. After all, this is a $1.2 billion proposal and should get close scrutiny from your legislator.
In a nutshell, the state funding numbers for the new untested electronic pull tabs don’t work and the state is on the hook for the entire $600+ million of general fund public financing.
There are conditions that could get my support for a new stadium. That stance, taken after much input from my local people, was conditional to no general fund money at risk and having user fees to pay for the stadium. These amendments and efforts did not succeed so I voted no on the final proposal.
In the St. Paul newspaper this week, there was a story about the Vadnais Sports Arena audit. It stated that the hoped-for revenue is falling short. It is delinquent in remitting a year’s worth of sales taxes to the state amongst many other financial issues. That will leave the local property taxpayers to foot the bill.
Passion for the Minnesota Vikings doesn’t mean that we put Minnesota judgment on hold. My job is to make sure that the taxpayers are properly protected and that I have confidence in the funding proposals. I don’t want the State of MN to be in a situation like the story above.
Alternatives were offered that took a sounder and more market based approach. However, the Vikings reject user fees and the Governor rejects infrastructure bonding.
The mechanism that is left is a poorly constructed financing proposal. It puts our taxpayers on the hook to bail out the stadium in the future with dollars that could go to other state needs.
I voted against the current stadium bill. I hope the conference committee report comes back with better funding so I can support the bill on final passage. There is time to fix it. I hope the conference committee accomplishes that. My support can be gained with the proper funding proposal.
Again, thanks to all for your contributions to this process.
State Rep. Roger Crawford
Pine, Kanabec, & Isanti counties
421 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155