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One of the concepts for a Vikings stadium that have been presented in recent years.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

T-shirts could aid Vikings' stadium bid

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
  • Star Tribune
  • April 23, 2011 - 7:24 AM

That Vikings jersey, Twins cap or Wild poster on the sales rack could play a bigger role than you think in helping to pay for a new Vikings stadium.

A 10 percent tax on wholesale sales of sports memorabilia -- including anything sold in Minnesota licensed by any pro sports team or league, not just the NFL -- would provide most of the state funding share called for in a stadium bill, according to a study by the Revenue Department.

Under the menu of taxes and user fees laid out in the bill introduced two weeks ago at the Legislature, by 2015 the proposed sports memorabilia tax would account for nearly two-thirds of the state's approximately $30 million annual contribution for a stadium.

The Revenue Department's report, a nonpartisan analysis of the kind done for many bills to help legislators assess funding proposals, fills in some of the blanks on how state-imposed taxes would help finance a stadium. The dollar estimates weren't available when the bill was introduced. At that time, the Vikings suggested they weren't happy about two of the proposed funding mechanisms: an income-tax surcharge on NFL players and a sales tax on luxury boxes.

The financing structure for a stadium envisions that one-third of the cost would come from each of three entities: the state, the team and a local government partner yet to be identified. The cost of a new stadium is estimated at between $700 million and $900 million.

The Revenue Department projects that of the $29.5 million the state would contribute in 2015 -- assuming the stadium is up and running by then -- $17.6 million would come from the memorabilia tax.

That would be followed by:

• $7.8 million from a 5 percent surcharge on the income that Vikings players and their opponents make when playing in the new stadium;

• $2.1 million from a special Vikings-themed lottery game;

• $1.39 million from a 6.5 percent sales tax on direct satellite TV services, including DVR;

• $650,000 from a 6.5 percent sales tax on suite, box seat and sky box rentals at the new stadium.

The memorabilia tax would be collected not just on items licensed by NFL football, but also the International Federation of Association Football and the Football Association. Not to mention Major League Baseball, the NHL, the NBA, NASCAR, Major League Soccer and World Wrestling Entertainment.

The 5 percent income tax surcharge would apply to any sports team employee who makes at least $250,000 a year. Most of those would be players, but some Vikings executives and their opposite numbers on other teams could be taxed as well for stadium work time.

The suite rental tax is based on the Vikings' estimate that the team would make $10 million to $12.5 million a year on luxury seating at the stadium.

The Revenue Department's figuring includes a couple of caveats. The numbers don't include the estimated $18 million to $29 million loss to the state general fund that would result from exempting sales taxes on materials, supplies and equipment used to build the stadium. And the bill doesn't require the proposed Minnesota Stadium Authority to pay property taxes on the stadium and related properties, which would shift the tax burden to other properties.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455

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