• The Manitou Messenger celebrates over 125 years of student journalism January 23, 2013

  • Printed weekly and updated online daily January 23, 2013

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Is new arena worth the cost?

Bjorn Thompson , Staff Writer

The proposed stadium for the Minnesota Vikings has survived one challenge after another. Its survival is proving to be an example of the nationwide debate surrounding overspending. In a state so enthralled with football, it is strange to see a project of this size continue to flounder. The $975 million stadium is projected to open for the 2016-17 season in downtown Minneapolis on 5th Street. The 65,000-person stadium was first proposed in 2007 by the Vikings franchise and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns the Metrodome and other downtown athletic facilities.

The stadium proposal was presented before the Minnesota House of Representatives on May 5, 2010, only to falter in a close 10-9 vote. However, Gov. Mark Dayton finally approved a deal on March 1, 2012. The projected costs for the project show the state paying $477 million of the total $975 million costs. According to Forbes, however, over the next 30 years the city of Minneapolis is projected to pay a total of $678 million in interest, operations and construction costs.

Given the burden placed on the Minnesota taxpayer, it is no wonder why so many people disapprove of the settlement.

“I don’t think that they should use taxpayer dollars to support a sports franchise,” Siri McCord ’15 said. “I’m not convinced that it benefits everyone in the state. It shouldn’t be the state’s responsibility to keep the Vikings afloat.”

Fan distrust of the franchise resonates deeply, mostly because of the team’s losing record.

“I hate how the Vikings always threaten to leave,” McCord said. “They’re not even a good team. We don’t need them here.”

McCord isn’t the only one who feels this way. Kyle Wagener ’15 recognizes that the Vikings are an integral part of Minnesota sports culture, but is unsure of whether that means the team truly deserves a new stadium.

“There are a lot of very rabid Vikings fans out there,” Wagener said. “They have become a part of Minnesota personality and culture. However, if they are going to go 3-13 every year, the Vikings probably don’t deserve a stadium, especially considering they only play eight home games per year.”

In the latest controversy involving the stadium, the team has considered levying seat licenses to pay for its half of the stadium tab. According to the Star Tribune, fans could be given the option to pay up to $20,000 for a pair of seats. The team is attempting to find out how much die-hard Vikings fans are willing to bleed for their team. If national economic recovery doesn’t pick up with full speed, Minnesotans (Vikings fans in particular) will be strapped for cash in an attempt to pay for what is expected to be one of the most expensive NFL stadiums ever constructed.

While the stadium has already been approved, that doesn’t mean that Minnesotans can’t continue to ask their legislators for a referendum on the matter. For a matter as fundamental to the political process as taxes, citizens should be able to vote on whether their team is important enough to provide a $477 million bailout.

My grandma always used to say, “It’s tough to be a Vikings fan.” But that statement takes on a whole new meaning for Minnesotans today, unsure of whether the love-hate relationship with their football team can last another year. Minnesotans will have to decide whether they want to pay to keep the Vikings in town or whether it is finally time for the franchise to make like the Lakers and move to Los Angeles.

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