The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to spend $477 million —$50 million more than they had planned — to get a new stadium under a deal that was given final House approval early Thursday morning.
The results of a furious, final stadium negotiating session were released after hours of closed-door meetings Wednesday, in which top lawmakers conferred with the Vikings and the state’s top business leaders out of public view.
The Senate, which had earlier passed different versions of the stadium plan, was expected to take a final stadium vote later Thursday.
As months of intense stadium politics at the State Capitol neared an end, the House voted 71 to 60 for the revised financing plan after a debate that finished at 3:30 in the morning.
So Zygi spends $50 million more than he planned, although it's not necessarily $50 million of his own money. And we're going to have this thing.
Not surprisingly, our politicians are pleased with themselves and the courage it took to spend money we don't have:
[Rep. Morrie] Lanning defended the state's efforts to get the Vikings to pay more for a new publicly owned stadium amid reports the team might leave Minnesota. "We have driven a very hard bargain," he said.And the Vikings want you to know how selfless they are, too:
"The Vikings and the Wilfs have stepped up ... and made a huge commitment to Minnesota," added Lester Bagley, the team's vice president.
At this point, it's tough to be outraged, because it's simply business as usual. You had a bunch of politicians who were doing what politicians do. It's always easier to spend other people's money than it is to deliver tough messages, especially when a bunch of people in purple face paint and Helga braids are braying in your face. We want our bread and circuses and our politicians are only too happy to deliver them, especially the circuses. You can take all the public opinion polls you want and the fundamentals don't change -- people say they want the government to spend less and not to waste money, but we keep sending politicians to St. Paul and Washington who do it anyway.
For what it's worth, at least the sorry spectacle we've been treated to in this legislative session has driven home that, for all our self-proclaimed exceptionalism, there is no exceptionalism here in Minnesota. All it took was for Roger Goodell to come to town and everyone folded like a rummage sale card table. The $50 million added to the cost is a rounding error. The NFL got what it wanted and we're all going to pay for it, even if we never see a Vikings game anywhere other than on television.
And because so much of the final process was done in closed-door meetings that were dancing around the open meeting laws, I fully expect that the lawsuits are already queued up. It's full employment for a blogger, I tells ya.