Ventura lets people decide stadium’s fate

Gov. Ventura is issuing a challenge to Minnesotans to show their support for Minnesota professional sports teams’ stadiums. Ventura is organizing a fund into which Minnesotans can choose to put their tax rebates toward funding the stadiums. If everyone who receives a rebate participates, there will be a sum of about $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion. There are skeptics who are concerned most people will choose not to give money, but the point of the fund is to leave the choice of support up to individuals.
There are still many details to be worked out regarding the fund, but Ventura has been quick to reassure critics he is very serious about this plan. The biggest question still unanswered is how the money will be divided between the Twins and the Vikings. Ventura has not set a date when he would be ready to receive donations, but rebates are expected to be released late this summer.
Since the beginning of his campaign, Ventura has stated his preference for hands-off governing. For example, his support for legalizing marijuana is another instance where Ventura wants to let the people, rather than the government, make decisions. In this case Ventura has already stated he would not donate his rebate to help build pro sports team stadiums, although he might later change his mind. Whether or not Ventura himself supports the fund monetarily, he has given the control back to the people. “Now you can (spend tax rebates on the stadiums) of your own free choice… This is democracy at its finest,” said Ventura.
A Voter News Service exit poll conducted in 1998 tells the feelings of Minnesotans about pro sports stadiums. Fifteen percent of the 797 voters interviewed favored using taxes or public funds for pro sports stadiums. The fund would give these voters and other sports fans a chance to show their support. The money given to the fund will demonstrate the real value that Minnesotans place on pro sports stadiums.
Although the VNS exit poll revealed 15 percent in-favor, 83 percent of the voters interviewed were against using taxes or public funds for the stadiums. A study done by Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist, “Sports, Jobs and Taxes,” proves that most new stadiums and arenas bring few full-time jobs while undercutting existing entertainment venues in the area. This is a valid argument against professional sports stadiums that has been part of the debate.
Although the basic intention of the fund is good, there are many questions surrounding the new idea. Does Ventura plan to propose his idea to the Minnesota Legislature? Are our state taxes going to pay for the publicity for the fund? Where exactly will the money go? Is the money earmarked for stadiums, or can the teams spend it however they want? Ventura needs to answer these questions before advocating it any further.
The fund is a good example of Ventura’s political philosophy — giving people the control to govern themselves. This fund is a refreshing solution to the long-standing debate about funding for pro sports stadiums. By putting the decision back into the hands of the people, the level of support for stadiums can be gauged, while those not in favor of the stadiums can choose to spend their rebates as they choose.