But did legislators still leave the exit door to L.A. open?
Because of our decade of columns and solution papers on saving the Vikings, especially in the last two years, I have received calls saying my column was instrumental in helping change anti-stadium votes to pro-stadium. Who can say?
We are pleased the House and Senate bills for the new stadium are in conference, soon to be sent to the governor to sign into law. But it is not over yet.
Credit the Wilfs for doing the real heavy lifting, honorably resisting efforts to kick the Vikings to L.A. (efforts begun in 1997, two ownership groups before them).
Still missing is a commitment to diversity (African American inclusion) in the stadium work: planning, constructing, operating. (See our solution paper on line, “Diversity and Compliance Studies,” detailing our columns on how Minneapolis purposefully practices disparity and avoids compliance).
Four conclusions from this stadium process so far:
1. It may still not go through.
2. After squandering 17 years available for getting it done, the deal was purposefully done in secrecy with purposeful moves to ensure closed meetings.
3. Minnesota acted in bad faith and dishonorably, trying to get the Vikings to swallow poison pills that could have caused them to move. Will official Minnesota again dishonor its word and attempt pushing Vikings’ costs even higher?
4. State, county and city officials fragrantly omitted the inclusion of minority (African American) contractors and laborers. Construction and other relevant unions fought hard for their White Brothers but not their Black Brothers. Local Black organizations fought for training dollars but have done nothing to ensure “graduates” work on the stadium.
We urge the Vikings to insist on inclusion (African Americans) if our elite “leaders,” White and Black, again refuse to do so. We urge the Vikings to stand up for its minority-worker fan base too.
We encourage compliance with the law regarding the inclusion of minority contractors and workers, especially African Americans, insisting on training to the level where they actually qualify. Or we urge a plan to import qualified minority contractors and workers if local training efforts fail.
To get a deal and be able to stay, the Vikings have reluctantly agreed to:
1. Pay $50 million more than the original agreed upon amount. (Hopefully they’ll get assistance from the NFL.)
2. Accept some user fees on fans and on game day that will cut into the Vikings’ revenue streams.
Potential deal breakers taken off the table:
1. Not letting the Vikings have the naming rights revenue.
2. Not letting the Vikings have right of first refusal for a soccer team that would play in the new stadium.
3. More stringent user fees on fans and Vikings.
But still out there, with no word on reversing them at the time of this writing, are attempts to get the Vikings to pay more so the State can pay less, and tying tax riders to the bill:
1. Requiring the Vikings to pay a percentage of their NFL shared revenue, the most sacred part of the NFL structure in order to keep teams competitive and profitable through revenue and draft parity.
2. Requiring that the Vikings have to pay all stadium construction cost overruns, which is a license to steal. As we reported in our 2002 book, “the July 2000 issue of the Journal of The American Planning Association reported a study that showed cost overruns have been the norm of the 20th century (1910-1998), …28% [average over run] with transportation 45% over in costs…. Developers and city planners both want opportunities to make significant extra money by doing this with selected developers and community leaders who can keep the neighborhoods docile.” That 28 percent of $1 billion is $280 billion more that the Vikings would have to pay.
3. Establishing a slow process that would have the Vikings wait until 2015 or later to operate in a new stadium.
4. Expansion of charitable gambling to help pay the state’s share.
5. Making Internet retailers such as Amazon collect state taxes when Minnesota customers buy online.
6. Linkage to tax breaks for the Mall of America.
7. Annual payments of $2.7 million to City of St. Paul for sports facilities.
If there are no candy and flowers during courtship, what can be expected after being locked in for 20-30 years? Stay tuned.
Columns referenced above are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development, “web log,” and archives at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.