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Editorial: New plan needed to pay for Vikings stadium

Published 11:18am Friday, January 18, 2013

Daily Herald editorial

The news about Minnesota’s scheme to pay for its share of a Vikings stadium with gambling proceeds just keeps getting worse. Receipts from fancy new electronic pull-tab machines, a big chunk of which state legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton had hoped would pay the state’s share of the stadium bill, are only a fraction of what is needed. It’s time for lawmakers to get serious about retooling their stadium financing plan.

Caught between the public’s unwillingness to pay for the stadium and fear that the Vikings would pack up and leave, lawmakers a year ago conceived a plan that would put new charitable gambling machines in bars and clubs around the state. The trouble is, only 120 of the costly machines have been installed, whereas the plan called for 2,500.

While it is possible the gambling plan will pick up steam, the gulf between expectations and reality is so huge that it is simply bad government to count on it. It would also be bad government to go back to the taxpayers for help with the stadium. Lawmakers need to devote some time, this session, to coming up with a better plan. Relying on gambling, which carries its own social penalties, was never a good idea. And it’s getting worse with every revenue update.

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