Even better

The Vikings stadium bill — which is a good deal for Minneapolis — got even better by the time it finally passed. Now it’s up to the City Council to approve it.

When Council President Barbara Johnson and I first got involved in solving the long-standing stadium problem, our top priority wasn’t building a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. Our top priority was ensuring the future of two significant, existing City-owned assets, the Target Center and the Convention Center, and slowing the growth of property taxes in the process. And we didn’t want to lose a business that draws hundreds of thousands of people and millions of dollars into our city.

We got everything that we set out to get — and more.

Now I don’t like the economics of professional sports; no one does. But we got involved because if we hadn’t tried to solve this long-standing problem, it would have gotten solved without us. That’s why we were at the table — to make sure Minneapolis got a good deal. And we got an even better one.

How the bill got better

Here are a few of the ways that this deal got better.

1) The Vikings share of total stadium cost went up — and the local share went down.

When we first struck a deal, the Vikings’ share of the total stadium costs was just over half, while the local share was less than a quarter.

But we kept negotiating, and now, the Vikings’ share of the cost of the stadium is even greater — 55% — while the local share is even smaller — just 21%.

And for the first time ever, the State of Minnesota is paying a significant share — 24% — of building a major sports and entertainment facility in our city. That has never happened before.

For our 21% share, we will get a new, publicly-owned, $1-billion investment downtown that will create 11,000 construction-related jobs and 3,400 permanent jobs, and support thousands more hospitality jobs. And it will be open for public use for 355 days a year.

Think about it: a private business is paying the majority of the cost for new public facility that they will use only 10 days a year for the next 30 years.

And we’re getting this major new investment for no new taxes. Only existing sales and user fees — which are already paid by everyone who visits, lives or works in Minneapolis — are being used for our share of the Vikings stadium. No new taxes. None.

2) We will get a share of the profit, called “clawback,” if the Vikings are sold within the next 20 years — a deal that is potentially worth between $15–110 million to Minneapolis taxpayers. At first, only the State would have benefited from the clawback — but we fought for Minneapolis to get our share, too. And we won.

What’s more, our stadium clawback provision is significantly stronger than the one negotiated for Target Field.

3) For the first time ever, we will control existing, State-imposed hospitality taxes that are paid by everyone who spends a dollar in Minneapolis, whether they’re visitors, residents or just work here during the day.

In the past, Minneapolis never had practical control over these taxes: the State collected them here and dictated how they could be spent.

Now, however, Minneapolis will control these hospitality taxes, providing us with billions over the next 30 years not just for the stadium, but to meet our top priorities: renovating the Target Center and making sure the Convention Center will keep drawing visitors (and their money) to Minneapolis for the next generation.

It helps us meet our other top priority, too: slowing the growth of property taxes. That’s because we can now use these widely-paid hospitality taxes, instead of property taxes, to fund Target Center.

We fought for years to control these taxes, with no luck until now. This is a historically significant change with positive, long-range implications for Minneapolis.

4) Also for the first time ever, Vikings games will be subject to a ticket tax. Twins and Timberwolves fans already pay this fee, so it levels the playing field for them. And it will generate at least $1.5 million a year directly to Minneapolis that will support core services like public safety and offset property taxes.

These are just some of the ways that the Vikings stadium deal got better for Minneapolis, and there are even more.

Now it’s up to the City Council to approve this bill and ensure that these investments go forward. The Council will vote this Thursday and Friday, so I urge you to contact your City Council member today and encourage him or her to support his good deal for Minneapolis that has gotten even better.

(Go here to find out who represents you on the City Council.)

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