There is rising concern over the underwhelming amount of revenue being generated from electronic pulltab sales, which are going to help the state pay for its share of the new Vikings stadium. By July, it was projected that 2,500 restaurants would be home to the electric pulltabs, but late last month the Star Tribune had reported that only about 120 restaurants offered the pulltabs, and gross sales were $4.2 million, well below the $17.2 million projected to be raised by the end of July.
Unless pulltab sales pick up, it will be necessary for Gov. Mark Dayton and the state Legislature to consider more viable sources of revenue. Some officials have considered expanding the number of places that are eligible to purchase electronic pulltabs, like grocery stores. Others have cited a lack of efficiency in the approval process for the manufacturers of pulltab games. While it’s possible that these factors could indeed be partially responsible for the dismal sales numbers, there remains little time for tinkering before construction of the new stadium is underway. While there aren’t any scheduled bond payments for 2013, lawmakers shouldn’t assume that pulltab sales will get much better.
As budget negotiations and debates over gun control legislation dominate news coverage and the public’s attention, the Legislature should make finding additional sources of revenue for the stadium a priority this session. At the very least, it should pass a bill that could include a backup source of revenue that could be raised in a responsible way if the sales of electronic pulltabs continue to fall short of projections. Regardless of how the public views the terms of the stadium bill that was signed into law last year, the state now has an obligation to hold up its end of the bargain.