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Football, baseball and taxes

Even in these tight money times, some states and cities have offered professional sports teams sweetheart deals.

And those deals usually involve taxes.

Follow-up fridayDevelopments with two of them, the new ballpark for MLB's Miami Marlins and efforts by the Vikings to get a new place in Minnesota to play their NFL games, are featured in today's Follow-up Friday.

Since it's football season, let's start in Minneapolis.

This week Mayor R.T. Rybak presented the Minneapolis City Council with his plan to build a new Vikings stadium on the site of the Metrodome.

Vikings logoRybak wants to use city sales tax revenue that currently pays for Convention Center debt to pay for the new NFL facility.

Right now, it looks like Rybak doesn't have the votes for the Vikings stadium. But things can change.

And what the mayor does have is taxes that are already in place. Proceeds from four hospitality and beverage taxes that the city of Minneapolis currently levies could provide up to $300 million over 30 years to build a new Vikings stadium at the Metrodome site.

Of course, that money wouldn't be available until the Convention Center debt payments end in 2020. So the plan is to raise about $210 million in development capital by selling bonds backed by the sales tax streams.

Ramsey County officials had hoped to finance construction of a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills with a new local sales tax, but that plan fell through when the state determined that voters must approve the levy.

Miami_marlins_logoNow it's time to head south.

Miami and Miami-Dade County issued bonds backed by a hotel bed tax and parking fees to cover about three-quarters of the new stadium's estimated $645 million cost.

In addition, the city built four new parking garages in the stadium area to make things easier for fans.

So who could blame Miami, which did so much to facilitate the Marlin's move a few miles southward, for asking the team to help cover property taxes of nearly $1.2 million on the garages.

The request for some help was made after Miami officials learned the parking structures might not be tax-exempt.

Too bad, say the Marlins, not our problem. The ball club won't fork over any cash or renegotiate its deal with the city and the county to give Miami better terms.

However, the Marlins president did offer to provide free legal advice as Miami tries to make its case to the property appraiser. How nice of them.

If these teams had player personnel directors who were even half as good as their tax advisers, they could really kick some butt on the field.

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