Should Gambling Fund Recreational Needs?

This is an artist's rendering of the $1 billion stadium Vikings ownership is seeking. But will it ever be built?

This is an artist's rendering of the $1 billion stadium Vikings ownership is seeking. Will it be built?

The stadium problem facing the Minnesota Vikings is a unique one. Their lease with the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome dries up after the 2010 season and it’s unlikely they’ll seek renewal. Instead, ownership wants a new stadium, which has been estimated at nearly $1 billion. The state currently faces a $4.57 billion budget defecit. In other words: A new stadium just isn’t going to happen.

But one state representative has proposed opening a casino in metro-area Minneapolis to help fund a stadium. (Check out this article from the Star Tribune.) According to a poll from startribune.com, among 2,793 voters, 87.9% said they would support a casino with proceeds going to a new stadium.

In the grand scheme, Minnesota doesn’t want to lose the Vikings. And with investors in Los Angeles looking for a franchise to occupy a newly built stadium, it’s hard to imagine a scenario with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf doesn’t head west. L.A. is a surefire market. He would certainly get returns on his investments.

I would hate to see the Vikings go. But under the current economic conditions, it would take some outside-of-the-box thinking to keep them around. Maybe a casino isn’t such a bad idea. But, would this casino operate solely to subsidize a new stadium? For this idea to gain support in St. Paul, I think lawmakers would have to agree on a system wherein the stadium subsidies are marginal compared to other state needs. I would propose a breakdown that also provides help to the public education sector. Of course, that’s just one item from the laundry list.

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