Saturday, December 29, 2012

On stadium finance

Target Field's financing mechanism
has been working well so far.
The Star Tribune today has a story on how quickly the public debt on Target Field is being paid off.

Hennepin County, the paper reports, has prepaid $31.3 million — which will ultimately reduce the county's interest payments by more than $53 million.

The original plan was for the county to finish paying off its $350 million in bonds in 2037, but the story says that could happen five to 10 years sooner. Which would take out the 0.15 percent county sales tax that much earlier.

Revenues from that sales tax have been a bit lower than projected (because of the recession), but the interest on the bonds has been lower still (also because of the recession).

The Target Field financing mechanism always seemed sound to me -- a low but broad sales tax in the state's biggest retail jurisdiction. In comparison, the public financing scheme for the Vikings stadium -- which is supposed to come up with more money than Target Field required -- strikes me as too flimsy to be called a plan. Electronic pull tabs? Really?

I believe this: If something is worth having government do, it's worth taxing openly and honestly to do it. If it's not worth taxing openly and honestly, it's not worth doing.

The value in public financing for sports facilities is debatable at best. This, however, is not: Target Field has a plain, broad-based tax behind it. The Vikings stadium has a gimmick.


  1. You're right, but when the public has been convinced funding anything with taxes of any kind is bad and elected officials are too busy being politicians that they can't be leaders, gimmicks are sometimes the only option.

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