Gambling on football: How the Block E Casino might build the Vikings stadium

Categories: Business, Vikings
ramseystadium1.jpg
Want this stadium? Fine, just keep dumping quarters in that slot machine.
As of this morning, Minneapolis is a city with one professional football team, and zero casinos. Some day soon, that could be the other way around.

The new push for a special session to finance the Vikings stadium in Arden Hills has taken a turn, with Republican legislators throwing their support behind a casino at the Block E site downtown. Now, instead of just shoring up the state's already-damaged finances, Minnesota's gambling tax revenues would be fed into the $300 million costs of the stadium.

Mark Dayton, suddenly the busiest man in the state, spoke behind closed doors with Republican legislators on Monday and Tuesday, and then had dual meetings yesterday with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and Alatus LLC, the group pushing for the downtown casino site.

Dayton won't release his own plan for the stadium until early next month, but early speculation has it that the governor might let the city bring in gambling in place of its current vice: rooting for a bad team in an ugly stadium.

To be sure, there are only about 99 things that need to fall into place for this plan to work. But Republicans, who've expressed skepticism about earlier proposals, are voicing support for the casino plan.

block e casino.jpg
The proposed Block E Casino might send your money right to Zygi Wilf.
Representative John Kriesel, an ardent Vikings fan last heard from in his Twitter argument with wide receiver Bernard Berrian, told the Business Journal that taxing revenues from the Block E casino is a good way to keep the Vikings in the state, if not the city itself.

"Whether it's built in Arden Hills or Minneapolis, [the casino] is a very reasonable way to fund the stadium," he said.

Tuesday's meeting between Dayton and Republican lawmakers focused specifically on the casino-for-football concept, Representative Tom Hackbarth told Minnesota Public Radio. Democrat Tom Bakk, the Senate minority leader, was less enthusiastic, saying a casino is not a necessary element to the plan, which calls for annual payments of $23 million from the state.

"There's a number of ways that you can cobble together $23 million a year," Bakk told MPR.

Yes, Tom, but are any of them as fun as gambling? "Come on, seven, Minnesota needs a new pair of handicap-accessible wheelchair ramps!"

For his part, Dayton is publicly noncommittal about the casino plan, and says his own method of financing and building the stadium will come out between now and his self-generated deadline of November 7. But, as the Pioneer Press reports, Dayton issued an ominous warning after exiting his meetings yesterday.

"At the end of the day," Dayton told reporters, "if there aren't 68 votes in the House and 34 votes in the Senate, there's no Advertisement stadium and the very real possibility, I would say likelihood, that the Vikings will leave."

Meanwhile, no one is proposing the most obvious, thrifty plan: We open the casino; Minnesota loans Mark Dayton $150 million; Mark Dayton and Zygi Wilf play no-limit Texas Hold 'Em; if Dayton wins, there's our $300 million right there. Thanks for playing, Zygi.

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11 comments
No, no, and no
No, no, and no

How about we not fuck ourselves over by building a casino or a stadium.  Both are overwhelmingly bad ideas.

guest
guest

If we don't build a stadium for them, where do the Vikings think they're going to go? Who's going to take them? 

Tim
Tim

No Casino or Stadium Please.

vitajex
vitajex

As a liberal, I feel that, if people want to gamble, they should be allowed to gamble. HOWEVER:As a Minneapolis resident with a modicum of good taste, I think a casino downtown is a patently awful idea.  What do we really stand to gain?  Tax revenue?- A significant portion of that will be offset by increased security expenses and crime, not to mention increased state expenditures funding gambling addiction programs and financial assistance for families devastated by gambling.PLUS: Where is this revenue coming from?  Does anyone realize how much Social Security funds go straight into casino coffers from the first of the month through the fifth?  How does giving a casino operator 75%+ of someone's Social Security check and reclaiming 25% help the state?  Or anyone else for that matter? Then, there's the matter of the physical casino itself.  Outside of James Bond movies, I have never seen a "tasteful" casino in my life.  Bright flashing neon lights, 'ding-ding-ding's and electronic approximations of 'ding-ding-ding', the sound of coins clacking against metal?- an adult arcade is what that is.  And we know how well arcades have fared in Block E... People will want to point to other cities that have built casinos in their urban centers, like Detroit.  Do I even need to ask the following question: Do we really want to model ourselves after DETROIT?!?!  What other cities will we model ourselves after?  Las Vegas?  Atlantic City?  Las Vegas is notorious as a city that might be alright to visit but you wouldn't want to live there.  Vegas flourished due to gambling at a time when legal gambling was exceedingly rare in the US, and its history is full of seedy, unpleasant lowlights.  Atlantic City is only mentioned nowadays as a punchline to a joke. Basically, the best analogy I can think of is comparing gambling to drugs:I believe drugs should be decriminalized- if someone wants to smoke crack, let 'em.But that doesn't mean I think we should allow a giant crack house to be built in the old Hooters spot in Block E. Don't fall for it Minneapolis.  A downtown casino is an awful idea that we will all end up paying for in ways many of us can't even foresee.

Ed Kohler
Ed Kohler

If the state got into the gambling business (which is shouldn't) the next discussion should be "what is the state's #1 priority now that we have some more revenue coming in?" I would imagine that education, health care, and general infrastructure projects from roads to government buildings including schools would all come well ahead of giving the public's money to a private businessman in New Jersey at a net loss.

Joann12345
Joann12345

I say YES!!!!  Let's get the damn casino and stadium going already!!!!!

jm
jm

Plenty of towns with NO teams, who'd love the revenue and excitement a stadium and a team brings. They'd take a shitty team with a few star players in a heartbeat! 

Also, you're forgetting that stadiums are used for way more things than football year round, duh. Concerts! Conventions! Monster truck rallies! etc etc.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

I don't see why we can't do all of that and a stadium.   A stadium is a prestige item that really marks your city as a major metropolitan area.  Having a major metropolitan area is power in both business and politics.    If the stadium is done right it could mean development that increases our population and tax base.   I don't like how it makes Ziggy richer either but I still think the benefits outweigh the costs.   We would definitely get a Super Bowl which would bring lots of tourism money into the state.   As unpopular as the stadium is, football is popular in Minnesota.   Like it or not The Vikings are part of our state, if we lose them we lose something.  I want the government to do more for the poor and middle class too, that's why I'm a Liberal and I vote.  However I also recognize just because something helps a rich asshole, it doesn't always mean its bad for everyone either. 

LA Vikings Fan
LA Vikings Fan

The Metrodome can be and IS used year round.  It's shit for concerts but works for everything else. 

An outdoor stadium in a Minnesota winter is useful (I wouldn't call it good) for football, only with a large amount of money dumped into having it game-ready for the 8 games that would be played there.

The Metrodome is still an NFL-worthy stadium, is bought and paid for, provides a home to more than just a terrible football team, and is actually built appropriately for the regional climate.

Everything about building a $1,000,000,000 outdoor stadium complex using mostly tax payer money in a time of economic downsizing for a game played in winter by a team that can't get even get itself together to win a few games screams of absolute insanity.  And yet we have our naive governor and elected representatives backing it.

If the team wants to hold the public hostage on threats that it will move unless we hand over the money, then we need to let them go and try extort some other state or city.  They probably know that they won't find bigger sucker politicians than here though, apparently.

jm
jm

Although I must say this casino is a bad idea. 

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