We’re Exhibit A in being had

In the current issue of the Atlantic is an insightful article titled “How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers.” Minnesota is featured in the article, complete with color photos of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and Gov. Mark Dayton. Per author Gregg Easterbrook, Wilf, with an estimated net worth of $322 million, will make a token annual payment of $13 million to use the stadium, keeping the lion’s share of all NFL ticket, concession, parking and, most important, television revenues. Because of the stadium’s advance, the Vikings’ value rose by $200 million.

After approving the $506 million handout for the stadium, Gov. Mark Dayton was quoted as saying “I’m not one to defend the economics of professional sports. … Any deal you make in that world doesn’t make sense from the way the rest of us look at it.” Per Easterbrook (an ESPN and NFL Network commentator), even by the standards of political pandering, Dayton’s irresponsibility was breathtaking.

LYDIA MACKENZIE, Richmond, Minn.

What are NFL’s standards?

“It is important that the NFL be represented consistently by outstanding people as well as great football players, coaches and staff. We hold ourselves to higher standards of responsible conduct because of what it means to be part of the National Football League.” So says Commissioner Roger Goodell.

A man of his word, Goodell suspended Adam “Pacman” Jones for the entire 2007 season after multiple felony charges were filed against him. And four players and four coaches from the New Orleans Saints were suspended as part of the Saints bounty program. So what should the NFL do with owners who are fined $84.5 million and whom a judge said acted in “bad faith and evil motive”? Are players and coaches held to one standard and owners to another? The NFL should expect more, and Minnesota should demand better.


Casino can cover shortfall

Surprise, surprise. About the only people who thought electronic pulltabs would generate enough revenue were members of the Minnesota Legislature. It’s time to be realistic. Casino gambling is already in the state. Another casino run by the state would create jobs and competition. Some of the proceeds could be used to treat addicts. We wouldn’t have to tax the wealthy. There would be money in the future for education, tax relief and whatever pet projects legislators could dream up. Gambling exists. Let us take advantage of it.


Get tougher in stadium deal

In the recently publicized legal proceeding between the Wilfs and their business partners in a New Jersey real estate development, the judge said the Vikings owners committed fraud, breach of contract and more. Comments by Gov. Dayton have implied that the Vikings got too good a deal in their lease agreement for the new stadium regarding their plan to sell personal seat licenses for preferred seating locations. If this is the case, advise those negotiating on behalf of the state in the final agreement to “renege” on that portion of the proposed agreement. Even without that source of revenue, the agreement is still so favorable to the Vikings that they will accept the stadium deal.

NEIL NAFTALIN, Minneapolis

Build it, and they’ll come

This past Sunday, a couple of hours before a Minnesota Vikings home game, I drove up Interstate 35W into downtown Minneapolis. I counted eight cars in my immediate vicinity with Iowa license plates. Each car was full of people with Vikings jerseys on and money in their pockets. Those who think the public money going toward the new football stadium is just for the benefit of the rich owners should think otherwise.


Vikes should play ball with all

The new Vikings stadium was promoted, supported and voted on as a “people’s stadium,” to be used by the entire state as the Metrodome has been. Now the Vikings expect to build exactly to their needs. To shorten the field and make a mockery of the game of baseball and the hundreds of games that are played there by college and high schools is a shame.

Thirty years ago, the same NFL team dragged the Twins into a facility that was a subpar major league baseball venue, but thousands of young men and women have had the opportunity to use an enclosed facility during the months in which playing outside is not possible. Let’s make sure this works out for all.

BRETT KLABUNDE, Brownton, Minn.