Sid Hartman: Vikings' tax contribution would be significant loss

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 6, 2011 - 6:59 AM

No state team has contributed more than the Vikings, and that figure would potentially jump with a new stadium.

For those in opposition of public money towards the construction of a Vikings stadium, Ted Mondale -- the chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission who is campaigning for a new building -- dug up some figures that disclose that the four pro teams now operating in the Twin Cities have paid more than double in taxes than what local and state governments have paid the teams through public investments in sports venues.

According to documentation provided by Mondale, since 1961, when the Twins and Vikings arrived, the current four pro sports teams in the state have paid $507.9 million in various taxes. In comparison, the public investment in major sports venues over the same period equals only $214.2 million.

The study shows again how much tax money is generated by our pro sports franchises, and what a loss it would be if any of them should leave -- but especially the Vikings, who have generated the most tax revenue of any of the four teams over the past 50 years.

Of course, these figures probably won't interest the geniuses in St. Paul who are only interested in keeping their jobs.

Anybody who knows what an asset the Vikings are to the state would not vote against building a domed stadium, which would only be used by the Vikings only 10-13 times a year but also could be used some 300 days a year for other uses.

According to Mondale, of the tax revenues paid for by the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild since 1961, a total of $474 million -- 93.3 percent -- went to the state of Minnesota. The rest went to cities and counties.

Not included in Mondale's $507.9 million figure was tax money contributed by the North Stars, who played here for 26 seasons, from 1967 to 1993, before departing for Dallas.

The Wild, which began playing in the NHL in 2000, has generated $53.1 million in taxes. The Wolves, who entered the NBA in 1989, have generated $11.5 million. The Twins' total tax contribution during their 51 seasons here has been $154 million.

Last but not least, the Vikings have contributed $185.7 million, a big reason why the NFL team deserves a new stadium.

It's also interesting to note that of that $214.2 million figure for public investment, $54 million of that -- 25 percent -- is Hennepin County's $54 million for the construction of Target Field.

The City Minneapolis has contributed $87.5 million, compared to $7 million for St. Paul. The remaining balance includes $55.7 million paid by the state, $8 million paid by the seven-county metro liquor tax and $2 million paid by the Minnesota Ballpark Authority.

Can you imagine how much more the Twins are going to contribute in the coming years now that they have their new ballpark? With a new stadium, the taxes generated by the Vikings would be astronomical compared to what they are paying now at the Metrodome. And if the Wild and Wolves could find a way to win once in a while, their tax figures would climb, too.

This study is just another reason a stadium bill should be passed at this session of the Legislature. It would not only benefit the Vikings but also mean this area could attract another Super Bowl, more NCAA Final Fours and truck pulls, and it would be available to Minnesota citizens year-round the same way the Metrodome is now.

Jottings

• It's interesting that Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis wasn't listed among the delegation going to Spain to see unsigned point guard Ricky Rubio.

• As reported here some time ago, Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith now has a Minnesota Chapter of the Tubby Smith Foundation as well as the one he has had in Kentucky for years. The foundation assists needy children. Smith will hold the inaugural Tubby Smith Foundation Golf Classic Sept. 18 and 19 at Edina Country Club; he is looking for individuals and companies to sponsor a foursome or a hole. For more information, visit tubbysmith.com/golf.

• Former Gophers righthander Cole DeVries could be designated as Twins minor league pitcher of the month. The 26-year-old Eden Prairie High School product did not give up an earned run in 14 2/3 innings in April for Class AA New Britain, earning four saves in seven outings. Perhaps most impressively, DeVries had 21 strikeouts to only three hits and one walk. DeVries has continued his hot pitching into May, with three more scoreless innings and two saves in two outings.

• The Gophers are in 11th after the winter season in the Division I Directors' Cup standings, which measures an entire athletics program's success. Stanford leads, with four Big Ten schools in the top 10: Ohio State is second, Penn State third, Michigan fifth and Wisconsin ninth. The Gophers had been 30th following the fall season.

• Former Gophers NCAA wrestling champion Brock Lesnar will fight Junior Dos Santos as the main event at UFC 131 on June 11 in Vancouver, British Columbia. ... The Gophers wrestling schedule for the 2011 season will include matches with Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska at home and Penn State, Illinois, Purdue and Iowa on the road.

• Former Gophers basketball forward J'son Stamper recently finished his first season playing in Loimaa in the first division of the Finnish League. Stamper led the team in scoring at 21.3 points per game and was second in rebounding at 11.3 per game. ... Dusty Rychart is averaging 8.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for Cairns in the Australian Basketball League. ... After spending the fall and winter basketball season in Germany, Rick Rickert is now playing for Bayamon in Puerto Rico. Through two games he is averaging 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. His basketball career previously had him playing in Slovenia, the NBA Development League and New Zealand. ... Kevin Payton, who played through his junior season with the Gophers, is averaging 9.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists for Traiskirchen in Austria's top basketball league.

• Former Gophers and Cretin-Derham Hall athlete Jack Hannahan continues to have a great start for the Cleveland Indians. The third baseman is hitting .270 with four homers, 15 RBI and 16 runs, and he drove in the go-ahead run off former Twins lefthander Craig Breslow in Thursday's 4-3, 12-inning victory over the Athletics in Oakland.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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