Archived Story

Our opinion: Not for the people

Published 3:55pm Saturday, October 5, 2013

So much for the “people’s stadium.”

Though Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota taxpayers are giving much support and money to help Zygi Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings build a new stadium, it’s clear the team’s ownership has no intentions of returning the favor.

It was announced Thursday that Vikings fans will have to pay an average $2,500 — $500 to $10,000 based on the seat — above season ticket prices just to secure seats in much of the team’s $975 million new stadium.

On their own, seat licensing fees are perfectly fair, since the fees result in a team’s fans funding a stadium they desire. But given the circumstances and the large sum of money the state is giving the team, the fees shouldn’t sit well with most Minnesotans.

Since Dayton pleaded with the team not to charge excessive fees and called for the new facility to be the “people’s stadium,” the high fees should bee seen as an insult to a state that agreed to fun $348 million of the stadium — not to mention the $150 million Minneapolis is putting up.

It has been nothing but bad news since the state of Minnesota agreed to fund so much of the stadium. First, the governor and other stadium proponents saw their gambling-based scheme to pay for the state’s share of a new Vikings stadium fall flat. Then those same leaders were stunned when the team acted like the private, for-profit business that it is and announced plans for a seat license fee. Then the Vikings’ owners were in trouble for their dealings in New Jersey. Without the gambling dollars to fund the state’s share, it will almost surely fall on taxpayers.

The “people’s stadium” couldn’t be farther from the reality. Taxpayers will shell out money for the new field, but the Vikings owners are the true beneficiaries. The Vikings are responsible for $477 million of the stadium. But thanks to the seat licenses, annual naming rights revenue and $200 million from an NFL loan program, the team is responsible for a diminishing portion of the total cost. There’s little solace in knowing the team must make available 3,250 “affordable” tickets for each game, especially since the agreement leaves it unclear what those seats will cost.

With the high cost of seating licenses and the many perks the team is receiving, the stadium isn’t being built with average Minnesotans in mind. Minnesotans can take consolation in a new, state-of-the-art stadium and promised economic developments. Plus, Minnesotans are surely pleased to have the Vikings calling Minnesota home for years to come.

However, we hope Minnesotans and lawmakers remember this the next time a sports team asks for state dollars to subsidize a stadium.

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