We see a stadium bill — but where’s the inclusion plan?



We saw several things as Minneapolis prepared to pay its $150 million over 30 years for the Vikings stadium:

We saw the $150 million figure climb to potentially $1.170 billion.

We saw the governor’s and mayor’s “People’s Stadium” become a private stadium.

We saw both Black and White leaders and organizations turn their backs on diversity (the inclusion of African American contractors and workers in stadium planning, contracting and construction).

The stadium bill discusses “minorities” but doesn’t include “African American.”

Minneapolis taxpayers could be out $1.170 billion over the next 30 years. Here’s how.

$338 million is added when capital and operations over 30 years are added to the original $150 million (Star Tribune, May 1).

$675 million is added when interest costs for 30 years are added (Council Member Gary Schiff, KSTP, May 13).

$890 million is added in Star Tribune analysis (“Minneapolis’ slice of stadium funding could jump,” May 1, 2012)

That reaches $1 billion, $170 million when our estimated $280 million cost overrun is added.

Last week we reported research from the July 2000 issue of the Journal of The American Planning Association showing that cost overruns have been the norm for the 20th century (1910-1998): 28 percent overruns being the average (with transportation 45 percent over in costs). The bill says the Vikings pay cost overruns (a license to steal). Hard to believe. What is really going on here?

I again ask: Where is the plan outlining how the City and State will ensure rules, statutes and laws on the books are upheld regarding diversity compliance, specifying “African Americans” under the term “minorities,” not just the Vikings stadium bill language to “make every effort.”

We have not forgotten the hard-fought battle by the African American community in 1967 that catalyzed the creation of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department and Commission. The African American community’s high expectations to be included in the planning and construction of the stadium have not been met.

So we again ask the question of Velma Korbel (director, Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights) and Kevin Lindsay (Commissioner of Minnesota Human Rights Department): Where is the plan?

We have heard the Vikings and governor say the new stadium will guarantee the economic rejuvenation of downtown Minneapolis, with capital improvement and significant investment in all communities, irrespective of race, creed or color. The City’s record, in full view last fall, is one of noncompliance. I see “try” words but no “will do” words, nor words of accountability nor words of sanctions for not being in compliance.

The source of my uneasy feeling is that, as of this writing, there is no plan for the full and meaningful inclusion of the African American community, of commitment and the opportunity for diversity that includes race, not just the group catch-all of “minorities.”

The only way to ensure compliance is to have the city council not vote on the city’s financial obligations for the construction of the new stadium until the full costs picture and a diversity plan have been distributed.  A diversity plan should be voted on by the Minneapolis City Council, sending a signal to State and team of the City’s tenacious commitment to diversity, a commitment demonstrating Minneapolis knows how to be fair and right.

It is time to open doors of opportunity, not close them. Once the bill is approved, Minneapolis will be run more by the five-man authority than the city council (the power of a municipality within a municipality).

The time to put together an inclusion plan for this largest public works project in the history of the state of Minnesota is now. Exclusion would be tantamount to approving the shredding of civil and human rights, and once again not living up to the goals and expectations of inclusion, just publishing pretty words with no action like the Star Tribune’s three-week series on race June 10 – 24, 1990.

Recommendation: that Civil Rights Director Korbel and Commissioner Lindsay be requested to make a joint presentation to Minneapolis City Council, in open session, before any vote on supporting the Vikings construction bill takes place. It is the right thing to do. It is the honorable thing to do. It is the type of commitment that Hubert and Cecil and Nellie would expect.

This is a significant, historical occasion for opportunity and commitment. It will have a lot to say about the peaceful future of race relations in this city and in the state of Minnesota.

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.