NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (AP) — Residents of a Minnesota county facing a local sales tax hike to help build a new, billion-dollar NFL stadium spoke out overwhelmingly Wednesday in favor of letting them vote on the plan.

Most of the dozens who testified at a public hearing of the Ramsey County Charter Commission held near the suburban stadium site opposed the stadium tax proposal. The obscure panel holds the power to throw a major obstacle into the Vikings’ stadium dreams.

The commission could call a public vote on the proposed half-cent county sales tax to pay for a portion of the $1 billion stadium, which stadium supporters fear voters would reject and threaten the Vikings’ continued presence in Minnesota.

But those demanding a public vote outnumbered stadium supporters by a more than two-to-one margin at the hearing, though supporters balanced it out some toward the meeting’s end when commissioners allowed non-Ramsey County residents to speak. Many tax foes said they were Vikings fans but don’t believe scarce county resources should subsidize a privately held team.

“Ramsey County is having trouble filling potholes and keeping their libraries open,” said Bob Thayer, a resident of St. Paul, the county seat. He said a sales tax seemed a particularly unfair way to fund a stadium: “The people who have the smallest chance of attending a Vikings game are going to give the biggest percent of their income to pay this tax,” he said.

Another public hearing is scheduled for October, and the charter commission is likely to decide whether to hold the vote at that meeting. As proposed, the amendment would ask voters: “Shall Ramsey County be prohibited from using any revenues, including those raised by taxes or bonding, to fund or assist in funding a Major League Baseball or National Football League sports team or stadium.”

The vote likely wouldn’t occur until November 2012. Stadium supporters say that delay — and the likelihood that tax-averse voters would defeat the tax — would together deal the proposal a fatal blow. The Vikings’ Metrodome lease runs out at the end of the current season, and repeated statements by team officials that that nearly 30-year-old venue is no longer sufficiently profitable have raised fears that team could be wooed to relocate to Los Angeles, currently in aggressive pursuit of a new NFL franchise.

“If we wait nine months from the end of the season to vote, we may not have a team to vote on,” said Diggz Garza, a St. Paul resident. “If there’s no team and they leave, then I guess we all lose.”

The proposed 0.5 percent sales tax hike in Ramsey County would raise the county’s proposed $350 million share of construction on the $1.1 billion stadium proposal, with the state contributing $300 million through a package of sales taxes on sports memorabilia and other, mostly game-related spending. The team would contribute the rest, an unspecified amount likely to exceed $400 million.

Supporters of the stadium project would ask the Republican-controlled Legislature would override the public vote provision, as they did when Hennepin County bypassed a referendum on its own sales tax increase to help build Target Field for the Minnesota Twins. Vikings officials, who did not speak at the public hearing, have said they simply want the same treatment as the Twins.

But any referendum exemption granted by the Legislature is likely to be challenged in court. In addition, influential state lawmakers including House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch recently came out in favor of a Ramsey County vote on any tax hike.

Numerous county residents said it was unfair that they should bear a bigger financial burden in order to build a stadium for a team that calls the whole state home.

“This team as far as I know is not the Ramsey County Vikings,” said Dick Houck, a Roseville resident. “It’s the Minnesota Vikings.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (41)
  1. Jeff says:

    Plain and simple, let the losers go away. we do not need them nor thier childish, overpaid demeanors.

  2. Bill says:

    Though I agree with Jeff here’s another proposal. Have the city grab all the parking garages/lots near the proposed site as eminant domain then hit everyone up for $20-30 to park for a game, depending on how close to the stadium it is. Creates a few new part time jobs and pays for the stadium. During off season months they can be used to store construction equipment.

  3. Earthman says:

    The Vikings are a private business, no public money should be required. Just because the Twins got away with it doesn’t make it right.

    1. Justthinkaboutit says:

      Absolutely agree…if they want public money, it should be a publicly held team like the Packers. The ‘we pay for it, they get the profits’ is absurd! The money you spend to build the stadium will never be recouped by the people paying the tax increase. Why do you think the rich owners ask for money from the public? If they didn’t, they wouldn’t make a profit and stay in business!

  4. Indy says:

    Let the people decide. It is “T H E I R” tax money that the Government wants to waste.

  5. Let's build the stadium without the vote. says:

    In case you didn”t notice the Gov, oof California signed the bill to fast track construction of a new LA NFL stadium in Industrial California. In signing the bill he called it the one way to get people working. So the writing is on the wall. Either we allow our public offficials to do their job and pass a stadium bill without public vote, or we will lose the vikings to the land of Glitz. It will happen.

    1. Maddog says:

      Good let them move to LA. Why should it not be put to a vote? If the people don’t want to pay to help out a billionaire by paying their hard earned money for a new stadium why should it be forced on them? You must not live in Ramsey county.

    2. Who Cares says:

      Good by Vikings. Wif can take his losers to California or any other place stupid enough to pay for a Billionaire’s statium. NO TAX DOLLARS

  6. Jordan Klister says:

    Plain and simple, let the Republican “no new tax losers” go away. we do not need them, their childish, overpaid demeanor or their obvious “it’s my money – keep your hands off – I need another boat and house” mentality.

    1. Move to La says:

      Tax everyone mentality of the Democrats with there open check book. Tax the people to death for a Billionares statium. Enough is Enough

      1. jimmy says:

        In case you hadn’t noticed it was two Republicans that wrote the bill to build the stadium. Included in that bill was an increase in the sales tax.

  7. Eric Manske says:

    a half cent sales tax works out to less than 5 bucks a week if you spend 50,000 a year. FIVE BUCKS. why is it that people are so short sided when it comes to these issues yet they are the first jump on the bandwagon and gather around the TV when the team is doing well. 80000 people spending money in your community a minimum of 10 times a year is a good thing. So if this does pass will the businesses close their doors to Vikings fans? I bet not.

    1. soapboxgod says:

      “80000 people spending money in your community a minimum of 10 times a year is a good thing…”

      It’s a zero sum game. If those 80,000 people aren’t spending their hard earned dollars in one community they’re spending it in another.

  8. Mike says:

    While I’ve never really been a huge proponnent of giving money to NFL owners, you have to consider everything here. First, brining a new stadium in will force much needed road work to be completed quickly. Second, Construction of the stadium will create jobs. Third, the proposed shopping area adjacent to the stadium will also create local jobs, and help stimulate the local economy. Fourth, a .5% sales tax would only mean paying an extra fifty cents on every $100 spent. Fifth, I am originally from L.A. I moved here after I got out of the Air Force. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather live. This is a beautiful state. Maybe those that are from here can’t see it, but this state and her citizens are footbal fanatics. More than that, they’re Vikings football fanatics. Don’t be foolish like the people in L.A. They lost their team 15 years ago over a stadium issue. It ALWAYS cost significantly more to get a team back to the area than it does to keep them in the first place. Granted that it stinks to give a billionaire help building a stadium. However, what is the overall benefit to the local area economically when the stadium is built. I’d wager the positives far outnumber the negatives. Everyone will have to vote their conscience. Just don’t cut of your nose to spite your face.
    Finally, I am not a Vikings fan, I like them, but my team is the Rams. I’ve been a Rams fan since I was a kid. Although I left Los Angeles well before the Rams did, it still bugs me to see them playing in St louis. It’s not right, and it gets under my skin. Don’t let that happen to your Vikings. I guarantee you’ll regret it.

    1. jan says:

      I’m a resident of Minnesota and I am not a football fan so qiot trying to speak for other people. You don’t know what you’re talking about

    2. Michelle says:

      Mike-You are the first person comments I’ve read that I totally agree with…

      Even though I don’t live in Ramsey county I definitely would pay an extra tax so the Vikings would stay. I’ve been a loyal fan of the Vikings for 30 years and a football fan. It will make me totally sick if a few people in ONE county will descide the fate of the Vikings. Let the whole state contribute or have a say so….it is the MINNESOTA Vikings and not the Ramsey County Vikings.. I don’t know what people are thinking. Just think of the jobs this stadium would create and families it would help. C’mon man- Look back on what happened to the North Stars and how hard we fought to get another hockey team back in Minnesota and now we are on the verge of losing our Vikings..It’s a sad, sad day!!!

    3. Guy says:

      Why do you people move someplace and then try to RUIN it like the place you came from. Californicate is DYING due to too many taxes; too much welfare; too many illegals & not enough jobs because of the taxes.

      We don’t want ANY of that here. Either live with with we have or go back to where you came from.

  9. cwhiatt says:

    “First, brining a new stadium in will force much needed road work to be completed quickly. Second, Construction of the stadium will create jobs. Third, the proposed shopping area adjacent to the stadium will also create local jobs, and help stimulate the local economy.”

    Mark, you are only focused on the seen. You are neglecting to consider the unseen.

    Behold Frederic Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy:

    “Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation—”It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”

    Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.

    Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade—that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs—I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

    But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

    It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.


    1. mike says:

      In this case the parable is not quite appropriate. In the story, the only person said to benefit from the 6 Francs spent was the Glazier. However, in the case of the 0.5% tax, more will benefit because of the jobs created. More people will be able to replace their old shoes, or add another book to their libray, or perhaps even make the payment on their home.

      1. JMJ says:

        Temporary jobs and very low income jobs. Not worth it.

      2. soapboxgod says:

        You’ve missed the premise entirely. What you are stating is that “the 0.5% tax, more will benefit because of the jobs created. More people will be able to replace their old shoes, or add another book to their libray, or perhaps even make the payment on their home.”

        Suppose all of the individuals who will soon incur an additional 0.5% tax, did not incur said increase? They’d have more money in their pockets with which they themselves could “replace their old shoes, add another book to their library, or perhaps even make a payment on their home.”

        Think it through man. Supposing you took your car in for an oil change, just think of all the lovely benefit that ensues. The employess at the Rapid Oil Change have more business and maybe they work some overtime and they can purchase more oil and and sparkplugs or whatever….

        NOW, suppose you changed your own oil. You just saved yourself $35. Now what are you going to spend that $35 on? Maybe you’ll take your S.O. to a movie. And so it begins…..

        The movie theatre takes your money. Maybe you buy some popcorn or some candy, the theatre has to employ people to come vacuum the popcorn that’s fallen on the floor, they have to employ the individual who dispenses the ticket, and another individual who rips the ticket and points you down the hall.

        All your theory does is take money from one to give to another all the while calling it a benefit. It completely presupposes that had you kept the money in the hands of the individual(s) who earned it, they’d not have spent or saved it thus having the similar intended effect.

  10. Drew says:

    Fine, but the referendum needs to be STATE wide. No way should the fate of the team be left strictly to the voters in Ramsey county.

  11. Eric Manske says:

    what are the elected officials getting paid for? Isn’t this the EXACT reason their positions exist? So if a road has to be repaved or a bridge built are you holding a special vote for that too?

  12. Build It!! says:

    I want a vote called then everytime the state or county decides to increase my taxes so they can give more money to those that sit at home all day and leech off the government.

    I’d rather have my tax dollars going to give someone a job than someone that refuses to get off their ars and get one.

  13. Johnny Rain Cloud says:

    I live in Ramsey county and figured out that over the 30 years to pay off the stadium my 0.5% tax hike will cost me $50 per year. Which is just over $4/month. For $4 a month I am for the stadium. If they build it correctly you can get concerts, boxing matches, college football games (this season Jerry Jones had LSU and Oregon play at Cowboy stadium), even basketball games to be played in the stadium throughout the year. It’s a lot of money upfront but the community and state will benefit from it for years to come!

    1. SO SAD says:

      Then what will happen to the Xcel Center, Target Center, and the dome? Close them because everyone will go to the new stadium?

  14. Kevin says:

    Why dont the Vikings just move to Texas and be with the North Stars? Then after ten years or so….the NFL wll put another team in Minneapolis….and guess what….life will go on…..lets see…the Twins…a banner year….the Vikings…..on life support……the Timberwolves….”Who”?……the Wild…..should be called “skirts on ice”……build a stadium for those worth millions and billions? Sure…just have the players take a 50% pay cut to pay for it. Oh…and Ziggy Zaggy can put 75% of his wealth back into the stadium..its fair…ask Obami….then hit up the State tax payers for the rest……

    1. @kevin says:

      Earth to you if you let them leave and a new team comes in 10 years it will cost even more, borrow a clue from someone treestump.

  15. Rest of the Story says:

    More to the story then was CBS-MN is reporting.

    More than 50 people spoke at the public hearing, including Cindi Aarsvold Nickel, who lives in Shoreview. She drew cheers after telling the Ramsey County Charter Commission they 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.

    “I’m a stay-at-home mom. I am married to a third grade teacher. He is in a public school system and is again having another state pay freeze,” she said. “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 rest of the story here,

  16. my opinion says:

    okay my feeling are this . i am 67 paid taxes all my life for things i didnt want that all others used. i will never use the lite rail i pay for it.i pay for the arts and sciences and i dont use it.i pay for YOUR children to go to school and i never had kids but paid for yours. when is it i get something i want. i love being their fan and cherering for them even when they do bad.when your kids play their sports you root for them. i want my vikings. hey good idea why cant the tax payers pay for what they want and and use instead of me paying for it.that site will always be vacant why not put income on there and all the building that will follow with hotels resturants and yes naysayers are thinking only of yourselves and not others i wish i coulkd of stopped my taxes to your school because you did not learn the share word
    o by the way my feelings the kids are not using the school system to excel and the teachers are failing to teach them , but i pay on.

    1. JMJ says:

      @ my opinion

      I agree arts and science centers should not be funded by the tax payers. And i do enjoy going to them. Education is another thing entirely. Everyone benefits from education, even you.

      1. soapboxgod says:

        That’s no reason why someone should subsidize the education of another. And yet I hear this argument all the time.

        The primary reason one’s children need to be educated is NOT so that I may be a beneficiary to said education. What do you think people are put on this earth to serve as a means to others?

        The primary reason one’s children, and the children themselves, need an education is so that they may sustain their own life. It is they who need to have education so that they may have the skills necessary to live. They need education and knowledge.

  17. mll says:

    With all of the talk about it only costing tax payers $5 a year… I personally would rather see my $5 a year going toward things that are needed that the government can’t seem to find money for in the budget. Like potholes. If you are going to charge an tax, make it worth my money. I don’t need to help fund overpaid jerks who make more money than I will ever see in a lifetime.

    1. Michelle says:

      @mll….well your tax dollar would be going to something worth while..putting people to WORK and helping struggling families..that’s what a new stadium would bring to Ramsey County and the state of Minnesota…Everyone is so focused on Ziggy and his millions, however they are not seeing the larger picture like losing the Vikings and what it will mean to the Minnesota economy…Isn’t the economy bad enough in Minnesota and you want to make it worse….

  18. Pay4it says:

    You’re going to pay for it, you should be happy if this is going on the ARden Hills site then it will finally be cleaned up, maybe they can get rid of that trailer park and the disgusting bar next to it. Build it in Anoka County I have an extra 10cents for every $20 I spend, I understand it costs money to attract peoples money to my city so it doesn’t just disappear into a town full of empty storefronts. So good luck pennypinchers, im sure you’re all in line to vote down the school levys also!

  19. games says:

    What are those extra proposed building supposed to be used for? They say it suppose to supply more jobs, what jobs, unless there are daily Viking home games, those jobs will be only available and part-time only whenever there are home games, and at no other times.

  20. No disclosure being made here. says:

    WCCO is editing posts to the extent that anything they don’t like is blocked or dropped from here. The least WCCO should do is 1) let readers know they are editing postings and 2) tell readers what types of posts will not be allowed here.

    As it stands, we are only getting opinions that WCCO wants us to get.

    1. soapboxgod says:

      +1 for that!

      WCCO does this with all their posts. They don’t care so much about reporting in so much as they care about “shapiing” the debate.

  21. StraycatStrut says:

    Where is our Savior in all this…..Medicated Mark?…. for a “Better Minnesota”…. or with the winter coming on he’s in hibernation. Time to lead and solve a State problem………… ooops….. Mark….Mark…. wake up….!!!!

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