Monday, March 26, 2012

Minneapolis City Council now supports Vikings stadium, but will legislature?

A majority of Minneapolis City Council members have come out in favor of the city paying for a new Vikings stadium. The question now is will a majority of the state legislature. Some don't think stadium voters have the votes to pass it in the remaining weeks of the session. It will have to wait until after the fall elections.
Mayor R. T. Rybak announced Monday that a majority of Minneapolis’ City Council now backed a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, setting up a last ditch effort by Gov. Mark Dayton to persuade reluctant Republican legislators at the state Capitol to back the project.

The surprise announcement, coming after weeks of intense lobbying in Minneapolis, removed a major obstacle to a public subsidy package for the proposed $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Minneapolis would contribute $150 million to building the stadium, plus an additional $189 million to help operate it.

“Now [the] motion shifts over here to the Legislature,” said Rybak, standing at a state Capitol press conference with four City Council members. “If the Legislature acts, the City Council will act as well.”

But even as Rybak, Dayton and other stadium supporters celebrated the break through Republicans, who hold a majority in the House and Senate, were again lukewarm to the stadium project as the Legislature heads into its final weeks.

The job of convincing seven of the City Council's 13 members spilled into the weekend and ended with City Council members Sandra Colvin Roy and Kevin Reich agreeing to back the project. Rybak said that new computer spreadsheets outlining the city’s financial commitment, and dispelling concerns that there might be a funding gap, were made available during the middle of last week and seemed to sway the final votes.
MFC hasn't taken a position on the stadium per se but does strongly oppose the use of gambling to fund it. The main proposal currently includes legalizing electronic pulltabs to help underwrite the state's share. That would be a disaster. It would mainstream electronic gambling, the most addictive form of gambling, in 2500 sites throughout the state. Tantamount to putting "mini-casinos" in 2500 sites across the state. It no doubt would also open the door to demands for even more gambling in the future.

Why the concern with video gambling? For one, it's predatory business product. It's predicated on encouraging individual indebtedness and addiction. In casinos, 30%-50% of the slot revenues come from 1% of the gamblers who are problem gamblers. To be successful casinos and other users of video gambling have to encourage people to gamble multiple times a week - the problem gamblers.

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