The stadium bill, continued

Paying for the Vikings stadium with pull-tabs was the wrong move.

Daily Editorial Board

Much like the snow, cold and ice, the issues surrounding the Minnesota Vikings stadium bill just won’t go away.

Though Gov. Mark Dayton signed the stadium bill into law nearly a year ago, an underperforming revenue stream has kept the issue in the spotlight. Funds from taxes on electric pull-tabs were slated to pay for the state’s share of the stadium cost, but it’s barely made a dent so far.

On March 28, the Pioneer Press reported that projections show pull-tabs will only bring in $1.7 million by the end of the year, a mere 5 percent of what was originally expected.

Despite being passed with bipartisan support, the poorly chosen revenue source demonstrates how politically unpopular the stadium bill was and continues to be. Instead of levying some type of state-wide sales tax, an unpopular yet effective method, the state Legislature decided to gamble and chose the pull-tabs method, hoping it would generate enough revenue without much political risk. It has evidently backfired.

On Wednesday, Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, introduced a bill that would delay the groundbreaking of the new stadium until Minnesota’s commissioner of management and budget certifies that the revenue streams are sufficient to pay for the state’s share of the stadium cost.

While good in theory, the extent of Nienow’s bill is unnecessary and would completely reopen the stadium issue, inviting opponents of the bill passed into law last May to stall construction indefinitely.

The pull-tabs revenue source has been a remarkable failure, and no amount of marketing or revamping will salvage it. What the state Legislature must do at this point, and what it should have done originally, is enact a state-wide sales tax that generates a steady and sufficient amount of revenue to go to the state’s promised payments for the stadium.