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Facing a $5 billion budget deficit, there is no way the Minnesota Legislature should offer a dime of general fund expenditures to build a stadium for the privately-owned Minnesota Vikings. That’s about as plain as we can state our position.

A bill for a stadium will likely surface in the next week or so — these bills have a habit of surfacing late in the legislative process — and we don’t know what sort of funding mechanism it will entail. If the plan calls for a metropolitan area city or county to levy a tax, user-based fees and contributions from the NFL and the Vikings, perhaps a stadium bill will be a reality. 

As much as outstate Minnesotans may love the Vikings there’s no justification for general fund money, raised statewide, to benefit a private, Twin Cities-based company. The tangible economic benefits the Vikings and other stadium events bring to a middle class family in International Falls or Brainerd are  negligible. At this time in the state’s history, in particular, we can’t afford to be generous to multi-millionaire team owners. A stadium project should be a Twin Cities issue. If they’re willing to take the lead and bear a portion of the financial burden, more power to them.

If Minnesota chooses to expand gambling, it’s been suggested that racino revenue be directed toward a Vikings stadium. Although that idea is more palatable than the use of general fund money, we still don’t see why a financially healthy private company should jump to the front of the line for a new stream of state revenue.

Any stadium legislation should be financed with Twin Cities taxes, user fees and Viking or NFL revenue. The state, as a whole, has no business funding a Twin Cities stadium.