Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Minnesota Freeloaders

I'm frustrated.
I'm confused.

I don't think I am really arrogant or cocky.  I definitely don't think that the way I think of things is the "right" way if it means that to be "right" the views of others would have to be "wrong."  But, still I am confused.  I simply don't understand many of the views of my peers.  For the most part, I don't bother them with my views regardless if they bother me with theirs.

Jeepers.  The last thing I want to be is political or be a guy that rants about current events.   It truly is the last thing I want to be.  I feel like I am forced to be the crazy extremist political ranter in light of the ideas of our state.  I feel for the most part I am pleading with everyone around me and expressing views on things that they do not share.  But, does nobody else see the financial state of Minnesota and our world the way I do?  I mean, you are all intelligent people and are perfectly capable to make decisions.  Each and every person in this world deserves to state their opinion and be heard.  Everyone deserves to be able to hold their opinion without criticism or guilt.  I guess to me, I don't understand why my views might be the unpopular ones.  Here's what I am confused about today.

The Minnesota Vikings more or less believe that they "deserve" a new stadium to play in if they are to remain in Minnesota.  It isn't that they want permission to build one.  They don't even want an option on land or a tax break.  They more or less want us to build it for them.  I think they are willing to chip in a little money, but the bulk of this stadium they want for free.  The project began with an estimated $500 million dollar budget and has since expanded into a $1.2 billion dollar project.  To put this into perspective, that $1.2 billion dollar amount divides out to be $224.51 for each and every person in Minnesota.  This is every man, woman, and child using 2011 census numbers, not just taxpayers.  How could this ever be a viable endeavour?  How could this even ever be a remote consideration?  What would ever give government the power to spend $224 of my money without any sort of choice in the matter on my part?  Well, since my daughter is still a minor, I guess I get to pay $448.  Better still, right? 

I have had multiple discussions with people about this topic and they seem to just shrug it off and not care about it.  Think about this seriously.  Do you want government to forcedly take money from everyone in the state disregarding their will?  Is it a fair situation to you since you want to Vikings to stay in Minnesota?  Are you really so selfish to think that keeping the Vikings in Minnesota by bribing them with a new stadium "works" for everybody whether they like football or not?  Or, do you just disregard others completely?

In 2011, it was the original projection that the state of Minnesota had a rather large deficit.  The state of Minnesota actually shut down for a while last year because of budget proposal failures.  But, then the topic got changed to the Vikings "needing" a new stadium and the budget "crisis" disappeared and was replaced with a surplus.

Now, in light of negative talks about the new stadium, Minnesota tax payers have been notified that the state capital building is more or less "in ruins" and they might need $241 million to fix that up.  Just so we are clear on this.  The figure I saw on the news for repair of the building was $241 MILLION dollars.  Yes, $241 MILLION dollars to REPAIR a building.  I bet I could have at LEAST 482 huge pole buildings built and furnished for $241 million.  I bet our state government could all fit into one or two of them.  That would leave about 480 of them empty for use for housing or some other noble cause.  How can the state government ever justify this sort of spending?  How can all of you, my peers, not be really, really pissed about this?  It's your money.  It's my money. 

Precedent for this silly spending was set in 2007 when the state of Minnesota added additional sales taxes to help fund a $522 million dollar stadium for the Twins baseball club.  That worked like a charm when it rained most of this past spring and game after game was cancelled.  When there was a chance of poor weather, attendance was next to nothing, yet the games went on.  But, they were better off there than in the Metrodome, right? 

What are some of the arguments for the new stadium?

It will create jobs.

It will create jobs.  I agree completely.  While it is being built, a lot of new jobs will exist.  But, after it is completed, most of those jobs will end.  So, we could argue that job creation, even it if is short term (1-3 years) is still a good thing.  Again, I would agree.  But, I would ask you to consider at what cost per job for these jobs?  What about fixing up our state highways, streets and bridges?  Why don't we demolish some of the rundown buildings in the metro and create some parking ramps or something to help everybody have good access to the events that we already have?  Could we level out a block of decrepit buildings and make a park or something?  Don't these things create jobs?  I mean, the situation isn't really any different except these works would benefit everyone rather than just Vikings fans.  Also, I don't know about you, but I get around the metro and out state quite a bit.  Our roads are rough and terrible.

The argument has been made to me that the actual finished Viking facility would employ more people long term.  I guess I can see some property management and public relations sort of jobs, but I really can't see the point of them.  Creating jobs in a sense of day to day operations for an establishment that is built and operated with tax money is nothing more than another liability.  As far as food service goes, I think the discussion is even more moot.  There will not be any significant new food service or janitorial jobs created for the new Vikings stadium that don't directly damage the supply of jobs available at the Metrodome.  Don't kid yourself.  The food service people work their butts off and get paid very little because the margins are fairly tight on food service.  The managers of those food service companies will continue to trim back jobs at one location and move staff to the other and will likely even use most of the same staff.  It isn't like they are going to schedule huge events at the Metrodome on the same day as Vikings games.  It isn't going to happen.  Think of it this way:  Susie works at the wiener stand on the Metrodome on Tuesday for an event and then again on Friday for Monster Trucks.  Then, Susie works the wiener stand at the Twins game Saturday.  Then on Sunday,  Susie works the wiener stand at the preseason rally at the new Vikings stadium.  Susie CAN work at all locations on different days.  And, why wouldn't she want to?  I see no new jobs here.  Well, maybe there is a few, but again, try to justify spending over a billion dollars to create these jobs.

The new complex will make over $85,000 per event in parking alone.

This is really silly and it makes an assumption.  This statement assumes that the events will all sell out.  This statement assumes that all parking will be purchased at full retail.  You cannot believe that if Xcel Energy, Coke, Pepsi, Target, or anyone else wanted to throw a big party for their employees and take them to a game that the management of the new stadium wouldn't cut them a deal on parking for multiple cars?  You better believe they would give them a break.  They better.  Vikings stadium management would be fools not to.  It's only good business.  Either way, the Twins pitched us all on a profitability scale figuring that almost all of the seats were full.  How much do they make if nobody goes to the games?  Hard to bank on unrealized income.

The new complex will bring lots of tax money into Minnesota.

I guess I don't understand this idea, either.  Who is this additional tax money coming from?  The players?  Most of the players don't even live in Minnesota.  Is this additional tax money coming from fans?  Is it from increased capacity of the new complex?  If it is, it is also banking on unrealized income from an unproven source.  I don't remember too many sold out Vikings games in this lifetime.  So, does that mean if we the people build a new stadium that seats more people that magically more people will come?  No, it doesn't mean that at all.  In fact, it is financially irresponsible to assume that it would.  But, it comes to your opinion about it, not mine.  I do not want my money handled irresponsibly.  Do you?

I think the only way I could see more tax money coming into Minnesota is that the property values of housing and of the property the new stadium is built on would change.  There is potential for huge property tax gains.  But, that really seems to help out the city and county where the new stadium is.  It does not help out anyone else in Minnesota.

The new stadium is an investment in the future of our state.

I just don't think so.  I think roads are an investment.  I think education is an investment.  I think parks are an investment.  I do not think that a stadium is.  Even if we build it, we aren't guaranteed that the Vikings won't leave five years from now anyway.  Or, maybe ten years from now they will demand another new stadium that costs $5 billion?  Who is to say?  I do think that if the stadium idea was such an absolute cash cow and a terrific multi-billion dollar making idea, the owner of the Vikings would want to build it himself.  Why wouldn't he?  He could afford it.  He doesn't build it himself because then he is tied to Minnesota.  If he built it himself, it would be his neck in the line if it didn't work out, not the tax payers of Minnesota.  These risks are not acceptable to him.  So, the other way to get the stadium is to threaten to leave and watch Minnesotans that like football kick, scream, and cry about it.  Then, when enough pressure gets put on politicians, the Vikings get their stadium for free.

The Vikings will leave without a new stadium.

Wow.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.  Sorry Vikings, but this just isn't working out.  You can't win a Superbowl and a good portion of your players are being bailed out of jail regularly.  I'm sorry, Vikings, but I think we need to see other people.  Really, let them leave if they want to.  If they don't want to be in Minnesota, let them go.  Are you willing to pay $1.2 billion dollars so they stay?  If they leave the state, they will still be on television, would they?  Or, if they leave the state do they just ride off into the sunset on a dusty saddle with worn out spurs?  Seriously?  What appeal does any of this argument have to a person like me that just doesn't care about the Vikings?

Last but not least is my favorite argument.

Well, I like football so I want a new stadium.  If it was something you liked, you would want it, too.

Wrong again.  If our state had a product and giving money to the state via taxes actually earned something, an investment in a project of the state might be more appealing.  But, when our state does little other than argue over insignificant things, blow billions and billions of dollars of our money, lie right to our face in the media, and place blame in a he said/she said fashion the idea of believing or backing any of the politicians or their ideas has very little luster.  I'm sorry, but I just don't trust them.  I don't trust the governor.  I don't trust any of the house or senate politicians.  I think they look out for themselves, their careers, and they pass legislation to help out those that got them elected.  They do this much of the time at the expense of what would be decent or good.  There frankly is NO project that I can think of that could benefit me that I would think the using tax dollars from everyone in Minnesota would be justified. I would never think it's okay to steal money from you so I can be entertained on the weekends.

But, what do I know.  I am just a crazy political ranter.


  1. The owner of the vikings is Zygi Wolf. Good guy. Believe me. I'm quite certain they don't want to leave. They've been there forever. Fact is, that stadium needs fixing but what drove me insane when they built the Twins stadium was this. I didn't understand why they didn't make it a retractable roof and both teams shared a new stadium. I said it at the time and I'm still shocked at this shit.

    The Giants and Jets fans were tagged with this shit also. The cost got dumped on the fan. It sucked. But it got shoved down the season ticket holders throat anyway. It's a shame it has to be like this but the NFL is like the mob. Don't ask. I'm not divulging all my knowledge in this in type written form. I'll save for the day I'm honored to meet you. HAHA. Another good one though. A couple of grammar errors but I fuck up on my blog too. Shows we're human.

  2. Well, Erich said it for me.
    The same thing occurred with the Giants and their new stadium. Season ticket holder prices went up. My friends dad who had seats for years couldn't afford it anymore. Parking went up...
    I went to a game this past season in the new stadium that cost $1 billion and change. Everyone we talked to in passing said the same thing; "This? This is it?"
    There was VERY LITTLE difference from the old stadium. Basically, it was a joke.
    The only people benefiting from a new stadium are the NFL team owners, the labor officials and construction workers who pour the cement and the politicians who get kickback campaign contributions.

  3. I'm afraid for us here in MN, this is going to be the reality guys. The state will spend our money again and we will be forced to give the millionaires and billionaires a field to play their little game on. What a joke.

    Thanks for the input.