A Stadium Built By Unicorns

In every engineering company in America, stuck on a bulletin board or taped to someone’s cube, is this cartoon:

Everyone who’s worked in engineering or any kind of analysis has seen this sort of reasoning on projects; you start with parameters, end with a conclusion – and the details will get filled in later, once the stakeholders conquer than whole “Miraculous” thing.

It totally applies today.


The Governor announced his new stadium plan today.

And if you, like me, have been adamant about not spending any public money on enriching Zygi Wilf – well, it’s mostly bad:

The officials were quick to announce the plan does not include any new taxes and includes a hefty contribution from the team.

Dayton said Rosen described the package as “the best deal available that’s possible.”

Dayton said the Legislature and the city must decide whether the state wants to be involved with professional football.

“I believe it does,” Dayton said.

Dayton said he will communicate with the Minneapolis City Council about the package shortly.

Under the “term sheet” announced today, the costs are divided 56 percent public, 44 percent private to put the facility up.

The problem?

For starters, as Gary Gross has been reporting for some weeks now, the public portion of the plan not only relies heavily on electronic gambling proceeds.  The plan presumes that revenue from these sources is going to boom – but it’s been drastically down in the past decade, over 20%.  The plan is to take all the new revenue and hand it over to the Vikes.

And that’s just on the state side.  The other public pillar of the plan involves the City of Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak explained the sales tax structure and urged approval of the package.

But Doug Belden and Dennis Lien didn’t explain it.  It involves diverting the city’s convention center tax – and the City Council has already said no, no, a thousand times no, well, a thousand times.  Rybak is talking, as they say in Latin, de anus.

(Which may be one of very few cases where phrasing something in Latin is actually more gauche than the Englsh original, “out his butt”).

And like the cartoon above, this deal requires several miracles to occur.

The Minneapolis City Council needs a 180 degree change of heart on the “sales tax structure” that Mayor Rybak glossed over.

The charitable gambling market needs to counter its recent history, and not only expand, but hit a major boom.

And, by the bye, the Tribes need to not send squadrons of DFL assassin ninjas out to exact revenge for further eroding their monopoly on gaming in the state.  Which you know, if you follow the interactions between the tribes and the government at all, is about as likely as Ryan Winkler winning an arm-wrestling match with Jared Allen.

This “Deal” is no deal. It is vapor.  It counts on a miracle occurring.

And the City of Minneapolis, the Tribes, and the laws of economics have all outlawed miracles.

UPDATE:  A Capitol Hill wag wrote me: “it would be interesting to track the history of revenue projections from electronic pull tabs. seems rather variable, as in it seems to grow to fit whatever dayton wants to use it for. funny that estimates for gop initiatives never do that.”

I’m sure MPR’s “Poligraph” will get right on that.


8 thoughts on “A Stadium Built By Unicorns

  1. Even more than charitable gambling having a boom, I have an issue with raising taxes on charitable gambling to cover the state portion. The real irony is that one state rep is saying VFW’s, Legions and all the other entities that rely on pull tabs will be compensated with a lower tax rate on charitable gambling proceeds.

    So we will raise taxes on charitable gambling, even though we will lower taxes on charities that rely on gambling. Does that make sense in any world?

  2. Minneapolis will never come up with their “share.” That’s why the bill Rod Hamilton introduced last week was so important. Although his proposal was for Arden Hills instead of Minneapolis, the math is the same. Hamilton’s bill called for Ramsey County to offer $10 million per year “as funds are available.” That’s about the same amount that Minneapolis is allowed to pony up per their city charter.

    Hamilton’s bill isn’t going anywhere, but his math is a lot closer to the truth. If we are truly serious about building the Taj MahWilf, you have to expect the state to be on the hook for at least $650 million. And that’s before anything else happens. So the question for Brave Sir Mark is this — where’s the money, Mr. Governor? This whole thing is less pulltabs than “pull my finger.”

  3. It isn’t that Mssrs. Dayton and Bakk don’t care about charities. It’s that, as I highlight here, they put a significantly higher priority on protecting one of the biggest contributors to DFL campaigns.

  4. Minneapolis was just outed as having the highest restaurant taxes in the country!

    There is another reason that this plan will be dead before it gets rolling. The proposed new portion of the stadium is supposed to be constructed over the parcel of land currently occupied by the 511 Building, as we in the telecom business refer to it. 511 11th Ave So (formerly the technology center for Control Data Corp), is the major carrier hotel for every telecommunications company that serves Minnesota where they all interconnect. Under the streets all around it are miles of fiber optic and legacy copper cable, utility and steam pipes, etc. that serve all businesses and residences in the Twin Cities. Obviously, Rybak and his minions are morons and apparently didn’t do their due diligence either, because to move that would cost those carriers millions and eliminate a major tax revenue source. It is a safe bet that the carriers lawyers are already working on their lawsuits.

  5. I still want to see what happens when Rybak pulls an Obama and forces this plan thru while ignoring the city $10M city charter rule, especially when a majority of the council was against this because of the charter rule. Another lawsuit (Citizens of Mpls against the stadium?) would be ready to go the morning after, along with the carriers’ lawyers.

  6. Pingback: It’ll Go Over Like A Les Steckel Two-Minute Drill | Shot in the Dark

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