Legislators are beginning a hard-nosed search for alternatives to electronic gambling to help pay for the planned Minnesota Vikings stadium, even as team officials met with state officials Wednesday to strategize about how to get more people playing the new barroom games.Of course, foam fingers won't get you there, either:
They are being spurred by the feeble rollout of new electronic pulltabs games, which were to cover the state’s share of the $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Gov. Mark Dayton’s aides met with Vikings officials in private on the topic while in public, House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, promoted a once-discarded idea: Taxing pro jerseys and foam-finger sports memorabilia.
Lenczewski formally revived an idea that was originally included in the 2012 Vikings stadium bill but was dropped along the way. She would apply a 10 percent tax on wholesale sales of professional sports memorabilia, no matter where it is sold — whether at a pro stadium or at Target. The tax would also be levied on rentals of stadium boxes and suites. It is projected to bring in more than $12 million per year — a little more than a third of what the state needs.If we've learned anything throughout this process, it's this: projections don't mean much. So that $12 million that Lenczewski wants isn't going to pan out, either.
For their part, the Vikings are saying what we've suspected they would say all along, to wit: Not our problem. A deal is a deal.
“We’re opposed because this legislation fundamentally changes the agreement the Vikings negotiated with the state of Minnesota,” Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said. He described the team’s contribution of $477 million as considerable and said the Vikings do not believe they should pay more.The Vikings, like everyone else in the NFL, subscribe to a version of what used to be called the Brezhnev Doctrine: what we have, we keep. And what they have is the legislature by the short hairs.