State Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, issued the folliowing statement today. urging his legislative colleagues to adjourn the current 2012 session and come back later to consider the Vikings stadium bill.
Marty has been a long-time time opponent of public subsidies for professional athletic stadiums. He contended the Vikings stadium bill should be sent back for further negotiations and that the Legislature adjourn today. Here is his statement in its entirety:
"Today was the date legislative leaders promised for adjournment, yet now they are planning to blow off that deadline and extend the session to push through a last minute Vikings' stadium bill.
The current stadium deal was never negotiated in the public interest. Instead, the city and state 'negotiators' were effectively sitting on the same side of the bargaining table with the team.
It is clear from the results that they weren't negotiating to get a fair deal for taxpayers. Instead, they spent their time strategizing what taxes they might be able to slip through the Legislature without too much public outrage.
Among the flaws resulting from the failure to hold honest negotiations:
The current version of the legislation would leave taxpayers on the hook for large additional costs over the years for operations and capital improvements. The Vikings portion is limited to a three percent inflation increase, but the taxpayer share is subject to an 'annual adjustment factor.'
Because the deal allows the Vikings to demand improvements to keep the stadium up to the standards of other facilities (they actually refer to Lucas Oil Stadium in the legislation), the Vikings would have taxpayers over a barrel. And the legislation requires that the public stadium authority, not the Vikings, would ultimately be responsible for operating cost overruns.
The legislation would take some Minneapolis private property off the property tax rolls, build a parking ramp on it, and give all of the parking revenue during Vikings games to Mr. Wilf. Would Minneapolis property taxpayers think this is fair?
It would give Mr. Wilf's family a monopoly right to buy a professional soccer team that would play, rent free, in the stadium.
The proposal would result in the all-time, number one largest taxpayer subsidy of any sports franchise in history. In simple terms, it provides public money equal to a $77.30 per ticket subsidy for each of the 65,000 seats at every Vikings home game.
Most fans would be surprised to hear that the proposal would be more than a $3 or $4 per ticket subsidy; they would be stunned to hear that it is a $77 taxpayer subsidy for every ticket, at every game, including pre-season ones, for the next thirty years!
Mr. Wilf and his lobbyists claim they have been waiting for years for a new stadium, but they didn't even have their first hearing until weeks after the committee deadline. When Minnesotans with education or public safety or any other concerns want action now, they told that 'rules are rules' and deadlines for hearing bills are past; they need to come back next year.
But, when the Vikings flew in their limousine lobbyists, all the rules were waived so they could get special treatment.
Now, they want to rush the bill through without any real scrutiny of the language in the proposal. During the Tax Committee hearing on Friday night, committee members were denied the opportunity to ask questions on many of the provisions in the bill, because 'there isn't enough time'.
The Vikings have been unwilling to share their financials, despite the fact that legislators and the Tax Committee have asked for them, though any responsible institution considering a subsidy of this size would require that information.
It's not a question of whether legislators are ready to vote on the bill. It's that the bill isn't ready for a vote. This may serve Mr. Wilf and his partners well, but it is not fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.
It's time to end the legislative session today. Los Angeles city and business leaders have proposed a privately-financed stadium.
If Los Angeles can do it without public money so can Minnesota. State leaders can sit down with the team after we adjourn, and begin work on such a stadium in Minnesota."