While there were many topics covered at the Eggs and Issues forum in Blue Earth last Saturday, one received some special attention and included a kiss from a state senator.
Blue Earth resident Brent Walker questioned Sen. Julie Rosen – at length – about her Vikings stadium bill she introduced in the senate the day before.
“I don’t see where the state should be involved in a professional football team stadium,” Walker says. “With the economy where it is and the state making cuts, this is not something the state needs to be involved in.”
He made a pretty good point. But, Sen. Rosen was more than ready to respond.
She says her bill will certainly see changes from what it is now.
“This is just a start,” Rosen says. “We need to get this on the agenda. The NFL has told us if we do not have a serious proposal for a stadium this year, they will not penalize the Vikings if they move.”
That puts some real pressure on the state of Minnesota to do something if they wish to keep the Vikings, Rosen explains.
The senator says the current Viking home, the Metrodome, has some serious flaws, not the least of which is the roof.
(I don’t understand how the people in charge of the Metrodome once thought they might get the roof repaired within two weeks of its collapse. Now, months later, it still isn’t fixed, and there is some doubt it can be made ready in time for the Vikings first preseason home game in August. What is taking so long? But, I digress.)
Rosen also explained how her plan would include public money, but it would come from taxes on tickets, sports memorabilia and lottery ticket sales. The lottery ticket would be a special Vikings scratch off game.
None of the stadium funding, she promises, will come from the state’s general fund.
There would be other public funds, however. They will come from a partnership with the local government entity where the stadium would be located, she says.
That means the city or county where the stadium will be located would raise a local tax to help pay for the stadium.
Of course, there isn’t any local government that has presented a proposal at this time. Rosen says there are several who are working on it, however.
Walker said Rosen’s explanation now had him 60 percent convinced that maybe the proposal would be OK.
Rosen also related that the owners of the Vikings have agreed to up their share of the cost of the stadium. That information got Walker up to 65 percent convinced.
His other complaint had to do with Sen. Rosen greeting some people before the forum began with a kiss on the cheek, but she only had a handshake for him.
She gave him a hug and a kiss as he left the forum. He had to leave early because he was on his way to a funeral.
The Vikings stadium bill is a hot potato issue. In other words, many legislators won’t touch it. Rosen, however, has jumped in with both feet, sponsoring the bill. She says there needs to be something on the table in order to get discussion going.
She wants to keep the Vikings in Minnesota.
So do I.
But, like most Minnesotans – Pastor Brent Walker included – I have a difficult time swallowing the idea that public tax dollars be spent for a stadium to be used by a billionaire owner, and millionaire players.
Rosen says her plan will see many changes before – and if – it ever passes. But, she says one thing won’t change.
No state general fund tax dollars will be used to build it. She practically guaranteed it at the Blue Earth forum.
I guess, like Pastor Walker, I am 65 percent convinced.
But, if a new stadium can be built for the Gophers, and a new ball park for the Twins, I think there should be a way to do it for the Vikings as well.
You just have to get me, Pastor Walker and the rest of Minnesota to be 99 percent convinced.