Should Minnesota pay for a new Vikings stadium, or fix the State Capitol? [POLL]
Vikings stadium, State Capitol: What's important to us?
The Minnesota Vikings need a new stadium, and they need lots of money the state doesn't have to build it. But now, they're not the only state institution that needs a pile of cash.
Yesterday, Mark Dayton spoke about two separate issues, both of which would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. One issue is finding a new building to house a few dozen popular people, who work in town eight days a year and are usually cheered on by tens of thousands. The other issue is fixing up an old building to house a couple hundred unpopular people, who work 120 days a year, and would be roundly booed if anyone cared enough to go watch them.
The questions on funding for the Vikings stadium and the State Capitol get right to the soul of Minnesota. Are we the kind of state with a crumbling football stadium, or a crumbling statehouse?
City Pages wants to know where you stand.
First, the numbers: Dayton announced yesterday that the Capitol Preservation Committee had approved an initial $150,000 in spending, which will go toward hiring an architect to draw up renovation plans which could ultimately cost the state $200 million, the Pioneer Press reports.
Mark Dayton wants to spend money on two things. Which would you prefer?
While there doesn't seem to be anything visibly wrong with the State Capitol from outside the building, Dayton warned that the building is so rundown that a 50-pound block of marble might just fall off the walls or ceiling and crush someone. (Wait, really?) Dayton took a "stitch in time" approach, describing the "very daunting" price tag of $200 million as a less expensive solution than waiting just a few years more.
The capitol is 106 years old, and, according to a state study posted by MPR, has some 67 problems -- from heating, to lighting, to structural issues -- that are "due" to be fixed in 2011.
Later yesterday afternoon, Dayton switched topics and made a big announcement on the Vikings stadium: State legislators won't allow a Ramsey County sales tax without a public referendum, which essentially makes that a dead issue. That tax was supposed to generate $350 million of the Arden Hills stadium's projected $1.1 billion cost.
"That's 350 million that's taken off the table," Dayton said, according to the Pioneer Press. "Obviously, it has to be made up."
Obviously. So far, the most popular solution out there are electronic pull-tab machines, which, if placed in bars across the state will generate $40 million a year in state revenue, and will also allow people who have stared silently at a computer all day to do the same thing all night, with the added benefits of getting drunk and losing money.
But Dayton has also backed off on the hard-line number of $300 million in stadium funding from the state, and seems to be prepared to fill whatever gap is needed to get the stadium built.
So, that's what's on the table now. If Minnesota doesn't shell out for the Vikings, they'll move to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this is not a possibility for the legislature -- we're stuck with them. And, as ineffective as they are now, they'd likely be even less so if they had to work in the dark, or soaking wet, or pinned, barely alive, under a 50-pound block of marble.
So, Minnesota, what kind of state are we? What's important? Who needs money, and who should we tell to go scratch?
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