MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota taxpayers might have thought the Vikings stadium debate was behind them, but there may be another controversy brewing.
Minnesota lawmakers may be asked to guarantee tax exemptions to the NFL as part of a bid to bring the Super Bowl to the new Vikings stadium.
Minneapolis is a finalist for the 2018 Super Bowl, partly as a reward for building a new stadium downtown.
State and city taxpayers ponied up half a billion dollars to build a spectacular new football venue on the site of the old Metrodome.
But to get a Super Bowl, the NFL has one more ask: tax breaks.
The Minnesota Sports Authority says not offering tax cuts hurts Minnesota’s chances.
“New Orleans and Indianapolis have recently hosted Super Bowls, and they recently have passed legislation for tax abatements,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, the Sports Authority Chair. “If there is no commitment to do any of these things, it will certainly impact our ability to attract the event.”
Minnesota last hosted a Super Bowl in 1992, and a ticket tax exemption passed by the legislature at the time is still on the books.
The NFL requires a sales tax exemption on game tickets and Super Bowl-related events and game day income tax exemptions on salaries of NFL players, officials and staff.
But tax breaks for the NFL doesn’t sit well with some state lawmakers.
“We paid for it once. I’m not interested in paying for it again,” said State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes.
“Our priority is working for all Minnesotans and all families to give them relief,” he said, “and not working to give more relief to the wealthy NFL.”
The tax abatements would not apply to hotel rooms, rental cars or NFL merchandise.
And the Sports Authority argues those taxes and economic benefits would never materialize at all without a Super Bowl.
“If we never were successful in getting a Super Bowl — none of these things would be generating any taxes,” Kelm-Helgen said.
Minnesota’s Super Bowl bid committee is not asking the legislature to pass a tax cut — yet.
But it wants Minnesota’s top leaders to sign a letter promising it will do so if the Super Bowl is awarded to Minnesota for the first time in 26 years.
And the NFL will make that decision in May.