Vikings urge tax shift for a new stadium

  • Article by: HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 28, 2011 - 12:09 PM

Team suggests using such revenue as income taxes from players and team workers for public's share.

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The Vikings released this artist's rendering of what a proposed Arden Hills Vikings stadium might look like.

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The Vikings have what the team calls a "purple solution" to come up with the green needed to pay for a $1.1 billion stadium.

In newspaper ads on Sunday, the Vikings proposed dedicating the tax revenue derived from the team, players, other employees and fan purchases to pay for the public debt incurred to pay for a stadium for the football team.

"Today's ad was a concept," Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said on Sunday night. "What we are trying to do is focus attention on the fact that we pay these taxes."

The team's proposal is similar to an analysis done by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in February, which estimated the team and its various connected revenue streams generate more than $20 million a year in taxes of various kinds for the state.

In the Sunday ad, the Vikings call the "purely purple financing package" the "but-for" solution because the team claims that these revenue sources would not exist but for the existence of the team.

The team would still contribute about $407 million of private money for the cost of a stadium.

The remainder of the funding would come from public sources, most likely the state.

The Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton have been working for months on ways to pay for the stadium proposed in Arden Hills.

Among the possible funding sources: a casino in downtown Minneapolis, electronic pull-tabs and slot machines at two local horse racing tracks.

There are two public hearings in St. Paul to talk about stadium financing, the first being on Tuesday.

What is new, the team said in the nearly full-page ad, is that the proposal seeks to divert the future tax revenue to pay for the roughly $650 million in public money needed to build the stadium.

"It could work," said Ted Mondale, chairman of the Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome. "I think they have a legitimate argument."

Mondale said the proposal is not a new idea and that the commission has been talking about something similar since February, even posting its analysis on its website.

The roughly $21 million in tax revenue would come from income taxes currently paid by Vikings players, visiting players and Vikings employees, as well as sales taxes on all spending by fans inside the stadium.

"All the money would come from sources that would not exist 'but for' the Vikings being in Minnesota," the ad says.

No mention is made in the advertisements, which ran in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, of how the state would make up the revenue it would lose if it accepts the team's plan.

Bagley would not comment on how viable the idea might be or what kind of reception it might get at the Legislature, which in the past has been reluctant to set aside tax revenues from a particular company for the specific benefit of that company.

Heron Marquez • 952-746-3281

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