Opinion Corner: Dayton deserves kudosRarely does anything good come from sports and politics intertwining. But when it does, it’s worth noting. That was the case in Minnesota last week when Gov. Mark Dayton fired a shot across the bow of the New Jersey-based owners of the Minnesota Vikings.
By: Dave Selvig, Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Rarely does anything good come from sports and politics intertwining.
But when it does, it’s worth noting.
That was the case in Minnesota last week when Gov. Mark Dayton fired a shot across the bow of the New Jersey-based owners of the Minnesota Vikings.
Undoubtedly you’ve heard the story by now. The team-owning Wilf brothers want to incorporate personal seat licenses, or PSLs, in subsidizing the 46 percent of the $1 billion stadium they’re getting.
Dayton warned Zygi and Mark Wilf that using PSLs could jeopardize the stadium deal altogether. Is that ever likely to happen? No. Was Dayton’s letter a little naïve and self-serving? Probably. But the governor was also 100 percent right in doing what he did.
Dayton fought tooth and nail against some in his own party and many in the other to even get the stadium built. Whatever political capital the Democrat had stored up, he used a lot of it in spear-heading the stadium effort, something his predecessor never did.
Additionally, while the Minnesota economy has rebounded slightly in recent years, they’re already projecting a budget deficit, albeit a moderate one, in future years. So asking the taxpayers for a half-a-billion dollar handout to the billionaire Wilfs was met with considerable pushback. Getting the stadium built was the right thing to do; doing so in a tough economy with the primary beneficiaries being two super-wealthy brothers with zero local ties has obvious political drawbacks.
Making the PSLs even more onerous is the fact that the Wilfs were never going to have to put hardly any of their own money into the stadium to begin with. Of their portion of the deal, a big chunk of that is coming from an NFL loan. Another big slice will also come from naming rights to the facility — this already was a sweetheart deal.
By comparison to other recent stadium deals, the 54 percent Minnesota taxpayers are on the hook for is a percentage higher than all but three of the last 10 NFL palaces built, according to Forbes Magazine.
Put another way, the Wilfs paid $600 million to buy the team from Red McCombs in 2005. If they were to sell the team now, they’d get a lot closer to $2 billion than $1 billion. The primary reason for that? You got it, the stadium.
As for the PSLs, these are not tickets. Whatever the amount is for the PSL — $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 per seat — then you still have to fork over more for the actual tickets.
So really, it’s the commoner fan paying money for nothing, while another billionaire gets a handout.
If Dayton shedding a light on this can guilt the Wilfs into settling for the original no-brainer deal, than great. Or, maybe Zygi and Mark will see the light this holiday season and drop the idea altogether, realizing that the only thing the new stadium is certain to do is make them much, much wealthier. It’s far from a guarantee for more wins — these still are the Vikings.
However, this would require billionaires to not put themselves and money first, so I’m not going to hold my breath.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org