Friday, July 15, 2011

LA Stadium "Deal" Outshines Minnesota's Dullard and Obtuse Politics

The not so surprising word out of Los Angeles is that the purportedly "done deal" of a new NFL-ready football stadium in downtown Los Angeles apparently is not so done. As a fiscal matter, that ought to shock nobody outside of those eagerly standing in line to swallow the constant swill that the NFL and its ownership partners have been dishing out in attempts to garner team owners lucrative, publicly funded stadiums; Los Angeles, like the rest of the State of California, is in a financial mess and spending hundreds of millions on a new stadium is unlikely to do much to change that for the better.

The citizens of Los Angeles seemingly finally understand the illogic of the Anschutz-proposed stadium deal, however, and are beginning to make clear that, in this financial climate, real, rather than fanciful, financial decisions ought finally to prevail. That means no stadium deal on the public dime--certainly not without a team committing to sharing team revenues with the party footing the bills.

While Los Angeles undergoes its epiphany, the people of Minnesota are looking more and more like the people of Los Angeles, pre-epiphany. On Thursday, Minnesota DFL Governor Mark Dayton acquiesced to what the Republican-led state legislature essentially offered on June 30 as a new state budget. This, after two weeks of a state shutdown that kept "essential" services flowing while cutting off many state revenue streams.

Not satisfied with their inability to hammer out a budget deal by the state mandated deadline--but, as in the case of many legislators, perfectly willing to accept overtime pay as compensation for this inability--the Governor and Legislature offered a proposal that yet again balances the state budget by borrowing from the future, with the cornerstone of the deal a tradeoff of a portion of the tobacco settlement money today for future money from the fund. It is, of course, a dramatic loss for all who live beyond today and who will not have the luxury of selling off future assets to cover debts created earlier. In short, it is the height of fiscal irresponsibility.

Considering the move that legislators and the Governor have made to mortgage Minnesota's future without resolving underlying budget issues, it is no small wonder that the brethren of those same people, those serving Ramsey County, are proposing a similarly dysfunctional spending spree, without meaningful evidence of necessary public revenue streams, to build the Vikings a new stadium in Arden Hills.

Ramsey County's decision, of course, came against the backdrop of not one but two proposed LA-area, NFL-ready football stadiums. This, despite much evidence strongly suggesting the unlikelihood of either deal actually going through in the near term and further suggesting that the NFL is unlikely to allow an NFL team to relocate to LA--and that the Wilf's are, in any case, a highly unlikely relocation animal, given the limited return on relocating versus staying in Minnesota.

With LA seemingly set to pull the plug even on discussions about a publicly funded NFL-ready stadium, one ought to expect the entire Ramsey County stadium deal to undergo thorough reconsideration, if not outright rejection. That's what one would have expected of a state once lauded for balancing present and future interests and making wise decisions for its residents. If yesterday's budget deal is any indication, however, the Vikings ought to feel at least marginally comforted by the possibility that Minnesota is attempting to assume California's moniker--"only in."

Up Next: Favre's Interest Ought to Peak Vikings' Sensibilities.

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