35 thoughts on “The Public Will Be Damned (pun intended)

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    An admirable sentiment. However, endlessly discussed elsewhere and even touched upon by the Crowd from time to time, is the reality that the price of belonging to the NFL requires a stadium of acceptable standard and with–I guess rare exception–these edifices have been supported with significant public funds. So how much is the populace willing to pay to be part of the NFL? Come to think of it, how many cities having lost an NFL franchise ultimately paid a lot more to get a new one? It’s a pricey club. Is it worth the price of admission and how do we really measure its value?

  2. Fair enough…but let’s call this question what it is: extortion. The Vikings argue that what the polls should really ask is whether the public is willing to see the Vikings move away. This is a unveiled threat, pure and simple. It’s a non-endearing feature of our supposedly beloved franchise, one that is even more grossly annoying when the state is strapped for cash just to maintain basic services.

    Again, however, I think it’s condescending to think that the public doesn’t understand what is at stake. Three out of every four Minnesotans do not want to fund a stadium for the Vikings…and I think it is reasonable to assume they understand the alternative.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Hmm….Are the Wilf’s asking for a greater contributiuon than other owners have asked for–and received–in other cities? If not, it’s just business in big-time sport isn’t it? Extortion?

      I wonder how many true, faithful baseball fans felt much remorse over the possibilty of losing the then moribund Twins some years ago to contraction. Has the community reaped some–if intangible benefit–that the team is still here–and in a new stadium?

    2. PM says:

      Do you think that the public understand the implications and the alternatives when they say that they want their taxes to be much lower, that they want no cuts to their social security, they want more cops on the beat, they want their roads plowed NOW, they want the government to offer them cheap prescription drugs….oh, and they ALSO want us to reduce the deficits at the same time, and to live within our means.

      Look, i am not a fan of giving $$ to the Wilfs or the Vikings, but i think that it is a bit disingenuous to talk about the importance of respecting the public’s wishes when we KNOW that the public is an ass.

      Or, to phrase it is a less elitist manner, we elitists are all very good about respecting the public’s wishes when they happen to align with our wishes and sentiments, yet when they do not, we are awfully quick to point out the limitations of polling, or the inconsistencies of what the public says that it wants (and how all of the things that the public says it wants are completely inconsistent), or to cry “manipulation”, etc.

      All of which is to say that you can point to all of the polls you want, but we really do not know what the public wants. We are left to rely on a process of political decision making called representative democracy, and if you don’t like it, well, tough.

  3. Want to know a secret? I thought of you, Mr. “Batshit on Taxpayer Supported Stadia” Souder when I read that “editorial” last night.

    My snarky rejoinder to the PiPress’s “neither here nor there” opinion piece could have been more finely tuned. As you point out — and are no doubt shouting at your herd of grazing race horses and terrified stableworkers — there has never been a broad consensus FOR stadium building, if any consensus at all when the question specifically mentions TAX INCREASES.

    On the flip side I do have to compliment the Strib for running Sally Jenkins’ energized rip job on the NFL’s unabashed, unabated rape of its fan base (consensual though it may be).

    Me, I’ve never enjoyed being played for a chump.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/07/AR2011020705610.html

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Great article by Sally Jenkins. And for those of us who grew up listening to Ray Scott call the Packer games on black and white TV, all of pro sport is absurd. The thing is Dallas is an atrocity at 1.5. The money athletes earn….A market driven realty that isn’t going away. So, what are we talking about?

  4. Not at all, good sir! My dear Mr. Lambert, if I in any way implied that I hadn’t quite enjoyed your snark and sarcasm let me disabuse you of that notion. I dashed off my note in haste this morning. Normally, I run these things by my groundskeeper before posting, but today is his day off and I was on my own.

  5. Why is it that newspaper editorials feel so free to blatantly lie, then we just shrug it off? The Strib lies so much in its editorials that they are now a running joke.

  6. Minnesotan says:

    I’m a Vikings fan. I used to be a season ticket holder. I think the Vikings are a tremendous asset to MN and I would rank them in the Top 5 of what puts MN “on the map” in peoples’ mind from other parts of the country.

    Still, I don’t want taxes raised for a new stadium and I’m not too thrilled with state-run activities, such as gambling, that some people get addicted to.

    So, I’m not surprised our legislators are conflicted, when I can’t even make up my own mind on the issue.

  7. Minnesotan: ‘Letting the marketplace decide” is exactly the solution to this “problem”. Pull the weird identity emotions out of the mix — where we are lesser people if we “lose” pro football, so therefore must pay both upfront and around through the retail door to keep “our team” here — and let the Wilfs build however big or small a stadium they want. Let them then and charge fans accordingly to recover their costs and turn a profit. If that means $300 tickets and $20 beers … well, THATS the free market. And it is a pisser sometimes.

    1. Minnesotan says:

      I agree it’s a pisser. But Brian, don’t other businesses get public funds or sweat heart deals to build their headquarters in MN? I know for sure when MN-based businesses build locations outside state lines, tax breaks/incentives are a factor they weigh heavily.

      The Vikings are entertainment, but also a business. I don’t buy the “building a stadium creates jobs” hoopla, because most of those construction jobs are temporary, but the Vikings do employ a lot of people and create a lot of taxable revenue.

      1. Festus says:

        It may not be a job, but build enough things*, that carpenter just might make it to retirement age without living in a cardboard box.

        *except stadiums. Trains are much better.

    2. PM says:

      But the free market is also all about trying to get all of the concessions that you can manage. Now, some might call that extortion, but it is the free market hard at work….

      Seriously, you want to cut the NFL and the Wilf’s and all of the owners down to size, then use competition against them–take away their copyright protections on the broadcasts of the games.

      Or, charge/tax all sports broadcasts for the public bandwidth that they use–a special liscensing fee for all sports broadcasts, that go to subsidize college educations, say.

      That might serve to get their attention.

  8. Newt says:

    How do you folks account for Dayton”s unwavering support for a new publicly-subsidized stadium?

    It’s a rather odd position for a liberal.

  9. Given the state’s budget shortfall and no prospects for meaningful solutions that do not harm the already tattered fabric of society, I cannot support this corporate welfare for the NFL on the currently floated terms.

    If merely by being a citizen of this state I am expected to support building a new stadium, then I want ownership–citizen ownership–majority ownership–board of director controlling ownership.
    –I want the team to be non-profit.
    –I want a cap on management pay, compensation, and benefit packages…not just team payroll…the management, ownership, board of directors, and all those cushy consultant jobs.
    –I want a cut into the sale of the team to the new owner when Zyg gets bored with his toy Vikings.

    Until terms of this ilk are on the bargaining table, I don’t support building anyone any sort of stadium.

    And if I can’t have that and it ends up I still have to pay for it, then I want to swing the other direction and eliminate any Tax Deduction for sports related entertainment expenses. It’s time these folks cover their own expenses and not receive corporate welfare to subsidize their sports habit.

    And then I want to go after the churches.

  10. Mrs. Fay says:

    As a New Englander who occasionally stops by to visit this Crowd’s fair cities, I would like to remind you folks of a gentleman named Robert Kraft.
    A few years ago he purchased a rather down on it’s luck NFL franchise called the “New England Patriots”. He demanded a new taxpayer funded stadium or he was gonna leave.
    Somehow, his team is still here, and he figured out a way to build a stadium using his own money…it seems to have worked out pretty well for the Patriots fandom.
    It actually sometimes works, if you call a bluff.

    1. And as a former New Englander, I recall that the Boston Red Sox somehow manage to play in a stadium many decades old…and which still is, arguably, among the best ballparks in existence.

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        The Kraft/Patriot situation and Fenway (possibly Wrigley) are exceptional in the extreme in today’s environment. If all other pro-sports franchises are generating significant public support for new stadiums and arenas this is the way the game is played today, and the Wilf’s–as you or I–would make the decision that best enhanced the value of our very costly asset.

  11. john sherman says:

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain why a thirty year old stadium is obsolete, and a hundred year old elementary school is perfectly acceptable.

    I’m agnostic as to whether or not Minnesota needs the Vikings, but I don’t see that we need the Wilfs; the socialist model in Green Bay seems to work okay. Let the citizens buy the team and build the stadium, and collect the profits.

    1. Oh, I think a drive past the Dome would give you at least one thought about why it’s a dump.

      But that really isn’t the point. Everyone can agree that many other teams are more profitable because they have newer stadiums with features that boost revenue, especially from the big-cigar types. The Vikings would generate more cash…and would be worth more…with a new stadium. So stipulated.

      The question is, who should pay? Or, if we’re going to chip in, what is a fair percentage?

      If the citizens of Minnesota take a pass they do so with the knowledge that the team may pack up and move…the operative word being “may.”

      I continue to think that the dramatic opposition to financing a stadium is itself proof that the public would sooner say goodbye to the team than give them a handout.

  12. Newt says:

    What does it say about a highly profitable $7 billion industry that can’t or – more appropriately – won’t finance its own infrastructure?

    Additionally, what does it say about an industry that is willing to walk away from America’s 15th largest MSA and one of America’s strongest economies?

    Fuck ’em. I follow the Pack if it comes to it.

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      Not to put too fine a point on it, but I believe the revenues are now at $9 billion — I think with that kind of money, no one needs any help — anywhere.

  13. Newt: I entered “Feb. 16th” for being the first time you and I have ever agreed on anything.

    That $7 billion industry — like other multi-billion dollar industries got that way and stayed that way by tapping taxpayers, usually via heavy-lobbying, to avoid what the guy running the hardware store thinks of as the normal costs of doing business. The NFL’s self-mythologizing is another variation on the “too big to fail” stratagem.

    And as for walking away from the 15th biggest market in the country. You’ll notice no one has walked into the 2nd biggest.

  14. Of the differences between an NFL franchise and any other big business seeking public support, surely the most striking in this case is the Wilfs’ tone deafness in drawing their line in the sand at the worst possible time. With the state in the deepest financial hole of our history, Zigi extends his paw and demands a hefty subsidy…or else.

    Classy.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      All points well taken. There is something ludicrous about billionaire owners tapping taxpayers for these sports palaces that seem to defy any reasonable return in cost benefit for the taxpayer–in an horrific economy. Right? But you’re the owner. Your lease is up. Your stadium, now grossly sub-standard to begin with, is a wreck. The league is moving on and demanding a “property upgrade” commensurate with other cities. All teams with a rare exception (New England?) have attracted public support. Hard to be the maverick owner in the world this sport has become. At base it’s striclty a business with its own rules. As distasteful as this seems Ziggie is doing what he has to do. The team needs a place to play and there is a paradigm established in other cites to fund it.

      1. Let’s suppose that Mr. Wilf were to state his case in just that way…and then added:

        “Because of the current fiscal crisis in Minnesota, the Vikings are prepared to defer, temporarily, our request for public assistance in upgrading our facility. We ask for now, a two-year extension of our lease at the Metrodome while the state gets back on its feet. We also ask that in return the legislature enact a longterm stadium solution prior to the expiration of this extension.”

        Think of the goodwill this would generate. Think of the imaginative solutions that might be worked out in such an extended negotiation.

        But, no. Mr. Wilf wants his treat now…or he’ll take his ball and go play elsewhere.

  15. Dennis: Of course Zygi, like any other businessman who learned to play with other peoples’ money, will ASK for the moon. I get that. All I’m saying is that WE say, “No. That boat doesn’t float here.” Call his damned bluff.

  16. bertram jr says:

    Lambo: “‘Letting the marketplace decide” is exactly the solution to this “problem”. Pull the weird identity emotions out of the mix ……well, THATS the free market. And it is a pisser sometimes.”

    Would that you had the good judgement to apply your thesis to the following:

    1. Tax payer funded abortion
    2. Gay marriage

    Thank you.

Comments are closed.