One-time tobacco tax money in the bank for new Vikings stadium

  • Article by: BAIRD HELGESON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 21, 2013 - 12:00 AM

The one-time tax imposed on tobacco inventories raised $30 million, more than enough to cover the state’s first bond payments on the Vikings’ $975 million new home.

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This handout released by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Minnesota Vikings shows the new Vikings stadium in this rendering done by HKS Sports and Entertainment Group.

 

The state has secured the money to pay the first year’s debt on the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

A one-time tax on tobacco inventory brought in $30 million, more than enough to cover the state’s first bond payments on the $975 million new ­stadium.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue reports that the money will be available in September, months before state-backed bonds are set to be sold to pay for the project.

“We are certainly pleased that the steps that the Legislature and the governor took to provide backup sources for funding for the state’s share of stadium costs are coming in as expected,” said Bob Hume, a Dayton spokesman.

The stadium project has been dogged by funding problems since the initial revenue source — money from new electronic pulltabs and bingo games — fell profoundly short of estimates and has shown no sign of rebounding.

Dayton and legislative leaders scrambled to find alternate funding streams earlier this year that were politically viable and that did not pull taxpayer dollars directly from the general budget.

State leaders turned to the one-time tobacco inventory tax to make the first bond payment. Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said it is the only cigarette money going toward the stadium debt.

Budget officials dedicated $26.5 million in tobacco money toward the stadium bond payments, which are expected to be about $20 million in the first year and about $33.5 million annually in subsequent years.

Those payments could change slightly once the February forecast is known and after state officials lock in an interest rate when they sell the stadium bonds this fall, Frans said.

The remaining $3.5 million in tobacco tax collected this year will go into the state’s ­general fund.

Team owners and state ­officials expect to break ground on the new stadium in October.

Aside from the funding problems, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has delayed signing crucial contracts with the team until an independent audit is conducted on the finances of Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.

The Wilfs face a multimillion- dollar judgment from their dealings in a 20-year-old New Jersey development.

Team owners say the judgment will not affect their ­ability to make payments on the new stadium.

 

Baird Helgeson • 651-925-5044

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