Minnesota is blessed with some particularly colourful legislators, but all of them must take second place to State Representative Phyllis Kahn. She has a long history of, shall we say, “imaginative” legislative proposals, and this one is a doozy:
Throw in one more idea for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium: Have the public buy shares in the team, enabling them to own a piece of the Vikings and help finance a stadium.
The community ownership idea has been floated before but Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said Monday she would introduce legislation to require Gov. Mark Dayton and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to work with the National Football League to make it happen. The commission owns the downtown Minneapolis Metrodome, the team’s home for nearly 30 years.
“Dayton asked for all ideas to be put on the table and that’s exactly what I’m doing here,” said Kahn. “No single idea [for funding a new stadium] has gained enough traction to pass the Legislature.”
The Vikings are hoping to get a new stadium built, and the state legislature has been doing what they can to kick the issue down the road every time it’s come up. I don’t have a say in the matter, as I’m not located in Minnesota and I’d probably still cheer for the team even if it moved elsewhere (though it would be a sad thing to see it move after half a century in Minnesota).
In general, I don’t think governments should build stadiums for professional sports teams, as it’s using tax money to subsidize private profits. If a new stadium is going to generate a profit, the team’s ownership should bear the costs themselves. The fact that they generally don’t — mostly because politicians don’t want to deal with angry sports fans after the team leaves town — doesn’t make it right.
However, Rep. Kahn’s proposal won’t fly because the NFL itself forbids public ownership of teams (the grandfathered-in exception being the Green Bay Packers). What’s even more interesting about her plan is that the proceeds of selling shares in the team would be put directly towards building a new stadium:
The funds from selling stock in the Vikings, said Kahn, could go toward helping the team build a new stadium. She added that, under her plan, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and his family could retain a 30 percent controlling interest in the team.
So the Wilfs will be allowed to retain a minority share, but wouldn’t be compensated for the proportion of the stock that was being sold? Isn’t that just expropriation? I didn’t realize the DFL was a modern-day successor to Mussolini’s Fascist Party.