By Mike Kaszuba
It's really no surprise that it has happened: A suggestion that the money for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium come from the Legacy constitutional amendment that is pouring millions of dollars into outdoors, clean water, parks and trails and arts and cultural heritage projects.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, a leading Republican candidate for governor, has suggested using Legacy amendment money destined for arts and cultural heritage projects to help build a new Vikings stadium. "Absolutely -- that's arts and entertainment," said Emmer.
"I don't know why someone hasn't floated taking some of that arts and entertainment tax and putting it toward the Vikings stadium," he said. Emmer said he opposes new public money for a new stadium, but said that Minnesota cannot sit by and watch the team leave the state if it does not get a new stadium. "I don't think you just sit back and say, 'Good luck to you,' " he added.
According to the latest estimates from the state Department of Revenue, Legacy amendment money for arts and cultural heritage projects in fiscal year 2010 is estimated at $45 million. That figure is part of an estimated $227.9 million expected to be generated by the Legacy amendment in the next state fiscal year. The amendment, which passed last year, provides funding for such projects for the next quarter century.
But before the Vikings and their fans start sending in the bulldozers they should listen to Michael Fox, the deputy director of programs for the Minnesota Historical Society, an agency that is benefiting from the arts and cultural heritage money.
"One can imagine that this sort of thing might happen," said Fox, when told of those eyeing the money for a Vikings stadium.
"I just go back to the language that's in the [Legacy] constitutional amendment the voters passed," he said. "It says for arts, arts education, arts access and Minnesota's history and cultural heritage -- and I think the conversation begins and ends around that definition.
"That was voted on by the citizens of Minnesota," Fox said. "Anybody who wants to take a different view is going to have to, I think, address that reality."