Vikings People’s-no-new-taxes stadium is unraveling for the African American community. “It’s ours” ballyhoo regarding Minnesota has become “it’s mine” for NFL, the Wizard of Oz behind the Vikings’ curtain.
• 32 percent minority participation goals of Minnesota’s State Department of Human Rights Director Kevin Lindsay were pulverized into dust. My estimate of 1-1.5 percent African American participation: too high. Actual and factual: unless there is unanticipated change, less than half of one percent, including employment and contracts.
•“Best effort:” the rug under which all promises are swept. Promises are not legally mandatory.
• “The Michael Jordan doctrine”: still in place. The former executive director of Minneapolis Civil Rights Department five years ago said Minneapolis can meet its equity and diversity goals without hiring a single African American. (See my columns, May 9 and Dec. 26, 2007; May 14, 2008; blog entry of Dec. 4, 2007; solution paper 46, Nov. 22, 2011).
• Panic began when NFL patience ended in 2012: NFL Commissioner told governor and key legislators if no new stadium the Vikings are free to move in 2013.
• Panic result: Minnesota hastily scrambled, putting the construction cart before the finance horse. Our decade of warnings: a decade lost.
• Panic result: half of land promised team owner Ziggy Wilf for development not yet attained and may be unattainable.
• Panic result: Neith
er Minnesota nor Minneapolis committed funds from viable sources.
• Panic result: roof still debated. How to finance? From the beginning Ziggy opposed.
• Panic result: quick slight of hands exposed, “people’s stadium” for soccer (legislation Section 15), baseball (400 college and high school games scheduled for 2013), and other community events. Vikings want to sacrifice them for 20 feet of Vikings seats for their 8-12 uses a year.
• Panic questions: As Vikings want sell outs for seat money, how in cold weather if no roof? And how baseball without roof? NFL plan for L.A. Coliseum has lower-level removable suite seats. Why not Vikings stadium?
• Panic solutions: (1) DFL controls both houses of Minnesota legislature. Just raise taxes, as California did; (2) Super Bowl in Minneapolis to cover roof costs and shortages.
“Blacks need not apply” doctrine on display at January 24, 2013 public hearing in Halsey Hall Room of Metrodome. Had Authority not held legislation-mandated public hearing, there would have been no “public” discussion.
Timeline: We still expect at least a year delay, roof or not, baseball or not, people’s stadium or not people’s stadium.
Financing/funding (roof/no roof) quandary: Unless Dallas architects pull architectural rabbits out of their architectural hat, with the state budget shortfall combined with the far lower than expected electronic pull tab revenue, the state won’t meet its financing obligation under stadium legislation Section 19, Article 473J.15 (specifically lines 22.1 through 22.9).
Nor will the city meet its $150 million contribution (grows to $800 million over the course of the loan according to City’s own calculations). How will Minneapolis meet its obligations? Answer: Raise taxes again, leading to more delay.
People’s Plaza: How long will delays take trying to obtain plaza land, including property owned by Minneapolis Star Tribune?
Fifty million dollars initial payment from Vikings: on the table, in the bank, in the proper account. When will Minnesota and Minneapolis be able to put in their initial amounts?
Significant financial issues, serious stress and strain in relationships within the Sports Facility Authority and with the community continue to reduce hope for diversity and inclusion of African Americans and others of color.
Stadium legislation, Section 17, 473J.12, “employment,” Subdivision 1, “hiring and recruitment,” states at Line 19.1: “The Authority shall make every effort to employ and cause the NFL team and the construction manager to commit to a good faith effort.” “Effort” means “not mandatory,” so the Jordan doctrine lives enabling Minnesota to continue to be all talk and no walk.
Opportunities for Black leadership to develop strategy and protect African American interests are lost. Even their pay-for-leaders-not-for-people scam has failed. It’s now Black History Month. This purposefully missed opportunity has become a part of a tragic legacy seen in the subtitle of a 2000 book on Minnesota stadiums, Boondoggles — no real commitment, no real plan, no real strategy except for money-pocketing failure.
What a sad day for Minnesota and the dream of full inclusion in both construction and operation of the “People’s-no-new-taxes stadium.” In the name of the People’s-no-new-taxes stadium, God bless the Black people of Minnesota being left behind. Give us strength to muster up at least one percent.
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 columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneap olisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.