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Minnesota electorate could decide fate of Vikings' proposed stadium with tax vote

The Minnesota Vikings are 0-3 on the field. It looks like they also might lose big at the ballot box.

The NFL team wants a new stadium. Ramsey County has offered to pay about $350 million of the $1 billion retractable roof project, sharing the costs with the team and the state. The county would pay its share with a half-percent increase in sales taxes.

But residents who attended the Ramsey County Charter Commission hearing this week told the panel they don't want to pay the tax. They believe that most of their neighbors agree with them. In fact, they are so sure that they want the matter to be on an upcoming ballot.

When Cindi Aarsvold Nickel told the Commission it should change the county's constitution to require a referendum on taxpayer funding for pro sports stadiums of any kind and the Vikings in particular, she was cheered. That's something the Vikings haven't heard from the stands this season.

If you can't see the above video, check it out on YouTube.

"I'm a stay-at-home mom," said Nickel. "I am married to a third grade teacher. He is in a public school system and is again having another state pay freeze. I get tired of having the gun held to all of our heads saying that we need to do this for them or else they're going to leave. In school this would be called bullying, and it's not to be tolerated."

The Vikings apparently are getting the same public sentiment feedback, since the team doesn't want the Arden Hills stadium issue to go before the electorate.

Time for teams, not fans, to pay: I'm a big sports fan and in particular a fan of a football team that's found innumerable ways to break my heart over the last 15 years. Yes, I'm talking about you Dallas Cowboys.

But it's well past time for rich owners of sports franchise in all leagues to quit asking much poorer fans to foot bills beyond the exorbitant ticket and merchandise prices.

And the Vikings really should know better. Minnesota had a budget meltdown this summer.

Yet the team's principal owner Zygmunt "Zygi" Wilf has the nerve to ask for, even expect, the Vikes to get public money.

Times are changing, Zygi.

Even the team's current home is looking for some payback.

If the Vikings relocate and the Metrodome where they now play is sold to help fund the move, Minneapolis wants its $30 million investment back.

That was the essence of a letter sent last week by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson to Gov. Mark Dayton. The governor's office is in negotiations with the team over a stadium package.

My advice: Get the Vikings on a more solid football footing before you go looking for money to build a place for them to play. Nobody (including fans) is inclined to pay for a sub-par product.

But you're running out of time. The Charter Commission is scheduled to hear more testimony in St. Paul on Oct. 11 and then decide whether to ask voters if stadium taxes should be on the ballot.

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Bryan at Pinch that Penny!

I totally agree with the bullying comment. I am also a longsuffering fan of a well-documented choking football team (the San Diego Chargers), and we keep hearing more and more about how the Chargers might move to LA if San Diego doesn't pony up the dough to build them a new stadium.

As a point of comparison, the last time San Diego kicked in money for a stadium (Petco Park down in Gaslamp), the Padres repaid the city by making minimal playoff appearances, including being shut out of the playoffs the last two years. Some investment.

From what I understand, the basis of the new stadium argument for the Chargers is that Qualcomm doesn't have enough luxury boxes to cater to rich clientele. You know what? Maybe those same rich folks could kick in some money for a stadium. It takes a village, after all. My seats in the nose-bleeds work fine for me!

In short, I'm sick of the Chargers (and other teams, although the Vikings may have a more persuasive case as their stadium's roof collapsed last year) whining for a new stadium while fielding teams that don't get it done.

Show me a Super Bowl rings, Chargers, and I'll get on board with paying for your new stadium.

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