Vikings Stadium Plan Takes A Beating At Ramsey County Hearing
Not a great meeting for those in favor of a Minnesota Vikings stadium to keep the team in the state. I think everyone has the right to an opinion, as long as you take time to educate yourself. When you hear an argument like telling owner Zygi Wilf to build his own “playground” it makes you realize how misinformed the most opinionated people seem to be.
The Minnesota Vikings stadium proposal took a beating at a packed Ramsey County public hearing Wednesday night that would have knocked defensive lineman Kevin Williams on his back.
Anti-subsidy speakers overwhelmingly outnumbered supporters of a proposed $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills at the hearing, organized by the Ramsey County Charter Commission. More than 100 people, some wearing Vikings purple, signed up to speak for two minutes each.
The commission’s chairman, Rich Sonterre, told audience members at the New Brighton Community Center they could be removed by sheriff’s deputies for applauding or jeering speakers. Despite the warning, the crowd of about 200 often applauded enthusiastically when an opponent fired off a snappy line, such as Merlyn Sanford of New Brighton’s terse statement, “I think it ought to go for a vote. I guess I don’t have any more to say.”
Cindi Nickel, a stay-at-home mom from Shoreview, said she’s tired of having a gun held to her head by sports teams saying, “You need to pay for this.”
“In school, this is called bullying and it’s not to be tolerated,” she said.
The anti-subsidy speakers at the nearly three-hour hearing advanced familiar arguments on their right to vote and urged team owner Zygi Wilf to build his own “playground” in these difficult economic times. The few supporters there said a referendum would kill the Arden Hills deal and possibly cause the Vikings to move.
County taxpayers are widely believed to be willing to defeat a stadium subsidy so a ballot question would be a deal-killer for the project. The Vikings oppose a referendum.
The issue is whether to allow a 2012 ballot question that would amend the county’s home-rule charter. The question: “Shall Ramsey County be prohibited from using any revenues, including those raised by taxes or bonding, to fund or assist in funding a Major League Baseball or National Football League sports team or stadium?”
The Vikings and Ramsey County have proposed that the stadium be built on a former munitions site north of the Twin Cities. The county would issue $350 million in bonds to be paid off over 30 years by the sales tax increase. The state also would be expected to contribute $300 million.
The Vikings, who are 0-3 this season, also have said they need a deal now because their lease runs out at the Metrodome after this season.
No Vikings officials attended the meeting, but earlier in the day, communications director Jeff Anderson said, “as a representative democracy, we elect public officials to analyze complex issues and make decisions that are in the public interest. We don’t believe the Vikings stadium should be held to a different standard…