Lesson 1: If you pull often enough on state and municipal levers, the gold of public subsidies inevitably tumbles into your hands.
Last week I strolled from the Mississippi River and the sylvan parks that line its banks, past the elegant Guthrie Theater and handsome condos, to a construction site and its forest of giant yellow cranes. A new stadium for the Vikings is rising here with a roof and state of the art everything. It is undeniably impressive, as it should be: This Taj Mahal will cost state and city taxpayers more than half a billion dollars.
Through their lobbyist, the Wilfs noted that they would pay rent on this stadium, which is grand of them. The project will also create a jewel of a public park next to the stadium.
Unfortunately, this park will not be as public as advertised. The fine print gives the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority control on most weekends other than those during the deep chill of winter. (The Vikings may place a soccer team in the stadium, which would extend their control of the park.)
The city remains on the hook for park maintenance. According to an analysis conducted for the Park and Recreation Board, the park came without any financing to pay for its upkeep.
â€œTheyâ€™re running circles around us like weâ€™re rubes,â€ former Gov. Arne Carlson said. â€œYou have children living outside in parks and tents. We donâ€™t have the money to take care of that problem. But we have hundreds of millions of dollars to pour into Zygi Wilf?
â€œItâ€™s an embarrassment, really.â€
The genius of the N.F.L. is that when talk turns to public financing, shame is viewed as a disabling emotion. We obsess on the failings of Roger Goodell, commissioner of the $10 billion nonprofit National Football League. But the men who own the leagueâ€™s franchises are more intriguing, not to mention more powerful.
Continue reading the main storyThe league makes relatively few demands of these owners, other than requiring that they are terribly wealthy. And it offers them a prime directive: build ever-grander stadiums and make sure that every stream of revenue â€” suites, seats, concessions, parking â€” sluices into your coffers. Do this, and weâ€™ll help you gang tackle cities and states. Weâ€™ll even throw in a Super Bowl to boot.
Read the entire column and ask yourself if this is a league that deserves your money. Â Itâ€™s sickening to realize how it literally loots cities and states to grow itâ€™s business.