Politicalfootball

The debate over public financing of stadiums is set to return to the state Capitol.

While current construction of a stadium for the Minnesota Twins and another for the Gophers football team takes place, the Minnesota Vikings are continuing to beg for their piece of the pie. A representative from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission was at the state Capitol last week asking for money to fund a study that would put the stadium on the path to completion. This appears to be the first step in what will surely be a contentious debate – once again – about the role of the state in the funding of private sports teams.

Last Thursday, as the state Senate was putting together the final components of the tax bill, an amendment was offered directing the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to spend $2 million conducting a study regarding the construction of the Vikings stadium. This amendment, seemingly innocuous at first, makes it clear that the Legislature will be getting involved in this issue in the near future.

The economic merits of building a stadium can be debated, but the Vikings’ plan comes at the wrong time and asks too much. While the Twins’ ballpark will take $260 million from Hennepin County, the Vikings are asking for over $700 million. No stadium and no private organization deserves that kind of state aid.

Even more insulting is the fact that the process is beginning while the state faces a nearly $1 billion deficit. As state programs face being cut or having their budgets slashed, some individuals have continued to push for the Vikings’ stadium project.

Having an NFL team is a nice amenity for the Twin Cities and the state, but we should not be in the business of providing such ludicrous amounts of public money for private organizations. The Vikings organization needs to get realistic with its request and scale down its stadium plans; we can’t support such an outrageous request.