Commenter RandBallsStu (Branding!) usually uses this space every week for a Hunt Down. This week, however, he took a very special field trip to Howie's Sports Bar & Grill in St. Cloud to test the new electronic pull tabs that will be used to help fund the Vikings stadium. Please remember that Stu is a humorist and a satirist. Here's his report. Stu?
Howie’s Sports Bar & Grill has been a mainstay in downtown St. Cloud since the mid-‘80s. And while some may know it best as the bar that’s right next to Taco John’s and the courthouse where parts of the first Mighty Ducks film were shot, it gained statewide notoriety this week as one of the five bars (and the only outstate bar, MANKATO) that has the video pulltab machines expected to aid the funding of a new stadium for your Minnesota Vikings.
I went early Thursday evening, and while it wasn’t dead, it wasn’t overrun by face-painted, Helga-braided rubes, either. It being St. Cloud, it was very likely the lull between happy hour and the college kids hitting the town. The game itself isn’t played on a slot machine or bar-mounted trivia/solitaire device, but rather an iPad. You give the polite young lady working the pull tab booth a photo ID and your cash, she loads that amount on the iPad and off you go. Of the dozen or so patrons seated at the bar, I was one of three “stadium supporters.” There were a variety of games to play, from traditional pull tabs to something that looked like the Bejeweled video game.
Being a staunch traditionalist as regards outstate charitable gaming, I played the standard pull tab game. I immediately hit a $10 winner, doubling my meager $5 investment and causing me to call it good. I returned the iPad and tipped the polite young lady (whose name I neglected to ask, but let’s go with Christy), and asked Christy if there had been a lot of action on these. She said so far that it had been kind of slow, and that she’d only worked a little bit on Tuesday when the games first arrived. She expected it to pick up, especially come Sunday.
A couple observations:
- If video pull tabs are the wave of the future, it’s going to be weird not seeing the guy at the corner of the bar, who has clearly been there for a few hours and is going to be there for a few hours more, sitting in front of his beer-and-a-bump with an overflowing basket of peanut shells and discarded pull tabs. It’s going to save a lot of trees, though. Progress?
- I think I’ve run into a troubling bit of math for the Vikings, Governor Dayton and other stadium proponents. The games are expected to account for roughly a third of the stadium cost, but if they continue to pay out $10 for every $5 spent, I think Larry Spooner is going to end up bitterly disappointed.