AFL-CIO endorses Block E Casino site, lawmakers condemn it

Categories: Vikings
block e casino.jpg
Big labor wants the casino, but big government doesn't.
The AFL-CIO wants more labor jobs, and it's not above endorsing a little vice to get things rolling.

Yesterday, the Minnesota chapter of the AFL-CIO endorsed the planned Block E casino, which has resurfaced as a possible method to fund a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis.

The AFL-CIO hasn't thrown its support behind any particular Vikings site. But with a growing morass of funding plans coming from lawmakers, the worker-folks think the casino-for-stadium deal is good enough.

"Given the number of funding options being debated, the Block E casino option is a way to both fund the project and create jobs," Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson said.

As if to prove Knutson's point about the constant stream of funding plans, Mayor R.T. Rybak held a press conference yesterday to lay out three (!) separate plans that could keep the team in town.

metrodome wikipedia.jpg
In one of Rybak's plans, we don't even get to blow up the Metrodome.
Rybak's proposed sites are all in the downtown area, including one most people are quite familiar with: the Metrodome! Yes, that's right,  behind Rybak's Door No. 1 is a $895 million renovation of the old grey lady-rhino.

His other two locations would tuck the stadium in near Target Field. One would see a new stadium rise atop the spot currently used for the Farmers' Market, and the other puts Christian Ponder's cleats on some Linden Avenue real estate, near the Basilica of St. Mary. The Pioneer Press has a helpful little map thing if you're curious about geography, but that subject is obviously null and void without economics.

So, here are Rybak's projects by the numbers: The upgraded 'Dome comes in under $900 million; the Farmers' Market site ($1.03 billion) and Linden Avenue site ($1.05 billion) just barely push the cost into the ten-figure range. In each case, the state is responsible for $300 million, the Vikings would chip in $446 million, and the city of Minneapolis picks up the balance.

Where those hundreds of millions could come from is -- you guessed it -- still up in the air, but Rybak floated two options yesterday, the first being a sales-and-lodging tax hike. The second, of course, is the Block E casino.

That solution seems less likely after a press conference yesterday in which a bipartisan lineup of nine lawmakers, including four from the city itself, said they woudn't support any increase in gambling in Minnesota.

So this issue shapes up, as they all do now, as a special interest power play. On the one side, you've got big labor pushing a downtown casino and a city stadium; on the other side, you've got big casino lobbyists trying to throw themselves in front of any new roulette tables.

Stuck in the middle is Adrian Peterson, who's just looking for some running room.

Previously:


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10 comments
Think long term
Think long term

A casino in downtown Minneapolis is an unbelievably awful idea.  Just say no.

Blah
Blah

Healthcare, education need to be first...period. Football is a game for sheep to live through proxy...

webcelt
webcelt

As a Minneapolis resident, I'd rather pay an additional sales tax than put up with a casino. I at least need convincing, because right now, I think of casinos as crime magnets. If we have to put up with a casino, then we better get the new stadium too. I'm not putting up with wrecking the west end of downtown to pay for turning the east end into a hole.

Jeremy B
Jeremy B

I get that RT is pretty much obliged to take the point of "if they're staying, they should also stay in Minneapolis", but aren't we already paying enough additional sales taxes? I live in the city and work downtown, so I'm already paying for a Twins stadium (and I don't have much of a choice). Don't do this to me again, RT.

And this casino idea...eugh. It's as if developers got together and had a contest to see what they could slap up on that block that's even more repulsive than Block E in its current incarnation. You win, guys! (Runners-up included a suburban-style evangelical megachurch, and a Wal-Mart--competition was tight.)

TeaBea
TeaBea

Do something with the Metrodome or let LA have 'em, I say. Does anyone actually have projected numbers in terms of lost revenue in Minnesota if the Vikings leave that justify spending this kind of money on a stadium to keep them?

Either way, I say take a revamped Metrodome or GTFO. We don't have a lack of stadiums in the Cities; we just have a lack of shiny new stadiums that make the Vikings feel as special as the Twins and the Gophers, and I have no interest in further tackying up the place by adding casinos and crap downtown just to give the Vikings warm-fuzzies. Know where a good, workable, not-obnoxious-to-the-neighbors site for a stadium to be used by the Vikings would be? That site where there's already a stadium, that's being used mainly (if not solely) by the Vikings.

Chris J Andersen
Chris J Andersen

Am I the only one who doesn't understand why this is even a topic of conversation? It seems like we have better things to spend our tax money on than a new stadium for a losing team. A casino is a fine idea for revenue and jobs, but use the money for something that actually matters.

Gnarly Davidson
Gnarly Davidson

You know what isn't tacky at all?  That giant nearly empty Block E, you know the one with the giant closed Gameworks on the corner.  I am filled with pride everytime I get a chance to marvel at it's beauty.

webcelt
webcelt

Teams lose, and they win. Arguing against a stadium or against keeping a team because they're losing at the moment makes no sense. Besides, over the existence of the franchise, despite this year, the Vikings have been one of the most successful franchises on the field. The next team, if we get one, probably won't be as good --- not to mention that if the Vikings go, we'll have to cover the cost of the next stadium entirely at public expense. After enough time without a team, we'll break down and build a new stadium. Even LA has given up on being so desirable a market that a team would move in.

Chris J Andersen
Chris J Andersen

We shouldn't be spending money on a stadium period. That they are a terrible team with little hope for the future isn't the point. The real issue is that we have no money.  It's crazy to me that people would consider a new stadium a priority. Especially when the team already has a place to play.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

If you want to be a major metropolitan area you need to have sports stadiums.    Have you ever considered that having a prestige item like that creates wealth and has an effect that can't be quantified?    I agree that we need to spend more on education and healthcare but its not like we can't do both.   A great society spends money on things like stadiums, art, and attractions. Having an NFL franchise puts Minneapolis in the national news weekly.  It increases our fame as a city.  If the stadium is in a great location it could spark massive development.   The Twin Cities would at minimum get a Super Bowl which would bring in millions in tourism.    Having the football team is why people know where the Twin Cities is.  Being willing to spend money on big projects is what separates the Twin Cities from Sioux Falls.  I don't like giving money to a billionaire like Ziggy either but I do think the benefits outweigh the costs.   No one complains about the Twin's stadium anymore, they just take civic pride in that beautiful stadium. 

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