Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Monday that the city is prepared to help finance any one of three downtown sites for a Vikings stadium, each of which would be cheaper than the team's preferred site in Arden Hills.
At the same time, Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson said she thinks the council will support a casino in the city's Block E entertainment district that could provide financing for the stadium and other city priorities.
And, of course, Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley had the same response:
Lester Bagley, the team's vice president of stadium development, said Minneapolis officials should save their breath.
"There's a viable plan on the table, and the Vikings are entirely focused on resolving the issue and building this stadium in Arden Hills," Bagley said.
So why is this news? Well, there's one thing that is different -- Rybak and the city council are apparently willing to tax folks in Minneapolis more:
Rybak said a citywide sales tax would be the main financing component and that there is support on the City Council to approve such a tax. He said he could support a downtown casino as part of a stadium package if some of its proceeds were directed to the city's impoverished Indian community.
Johnson said there are votes on the council to approve a Block E casino and called it an "attractive option" for the city's entertainment district. Council Member Gary Schiff said he thinks there are votes for a casino but that his support may depend on the developer signing "a jobs plan that invests in high-poverty communities."
The citywide sales tax would be an interesting development, because it would really hurt Minneapolis businesses. If you dine out in downtown Minneapolis, you are already on the hook for a sales tax of about 10% because of the taxes added to pay for the Convention Center, Target Field and Rybak's valet service. I'll bet some of the local eateries will be thrilled about the prospect of piling on another 1% or maybe more. Of course, since there's no chance it will happen Rybak might as well propose adding an additional !eleventy!! percent tax. We'll get that new stadium paid for in a matter of months!
We went through all this back in May, of course. We're now 5 months on and the Vikings haven't changed their minds, for all the reasons we've covered here. Minneapolis can offer everything but the one thing the current Vikings ownership wants, which is sufficient real estate to build the giant parking lot that would bring an additional revenue stream to the deal. So why do we continue to talk about Minneapolis? In the end, I think the reason is pretty simple -- everyone knows what the deal really is in Arden Hills. What the Vikings want is outrageous, but they know they can get it from someone.
Here's a little unsolicited advice for the Minneapolis crowd -- if you really want the Vikings to stay in Minneapolis, you should stop pestering Mark Dayton and Zygi Wilf. You need to start calling on the local plutocrats and get them involved in an offer to buy the team from Wilf. It's possible that Wilf would sell the team for the right price, which would likely be a 1 with a vapor trail of zeroes after it. That's the only way your dreams will ever come to fruition. It's also an effort that should have started months ago, but it's the only hope for Minneapolis now.