Imagine, if you will, that you own your own home. You’ve decided after living there about fifteen years that you don’t necessarily enjoy the company of the water cooler-sized rats that have taken up residence in the walls and basement, especially since they’re always snatching food off of you and never replacing it. We had a deal, Jerry!
Anyway, you’ve decided it’s about time for some new digs, and building a new house is the only way to go. You’ve got to tear down the old house (did you get that memo I sent you, Jerry?), remove all the debris, and build up a new house. The alternative to this was calling in an exterminator, redoing the basement and walls, and getting some new furniture since Jerry and his friends couldn’t stop piddling and shitting all over your stuff.
Don’t sit there, it isn’t safe.
Renovations would cost a whole lot less money, even when combined with the new furniture, but for reasons you’ve opted not to explain, you declare that the tear down and new building is the way to go. Okay, that’s fine. You’ve explained what you want done, how you want the new house to look and feel, what kind of appliances and furniture you want, and you’ve got it all mapped out. Tremendous, truly excellent, your plan is in place.
Let’s say you come to me with all of this, and I represent the bank. I’ve taken a look at your list of problems with the current house, wondered why there’s an enormous rat in a three-piece suit standing next to your leg, and aside from the rat, I like what you’ve shown me. The only matter now is to ask you how you intend to finance this little operation.
‘Oh, that’s the best part,’ you tell me. ‘My family and I will pay about 40% of the total cost, and you’ll pay the other 60%, and after I do tax write-offs and exemptions next year, my family and I will only have really paid about 30% of the total bill. Isn’t it great?’ I will stare at you like you have four heads, smack my forehead, and strongly consider getting a baseball bat out from under the desk to get that rat taken care of.
Believe it or not, this is essentially what’s happening with the proposed expansion and rebuilding of the Minnesota Vikings stadium. The team is owned by Zigi Wilf and four other gentlemen, three of whom are Wilfs themselves. The current figures go as follows, according to the current bill being put before the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The present distribution of costs will be such; the State of Minnesota will pay 438 million dollars, the City of Minneapolis will pay 157 million, and the Vikings ownership/team will pay 404 million. Those figures may seem staggering, and for good reason. When the bill proposes that the citizenry of the State of Minnesota pay more towards the new stadium than the team’s owners themselves, one could be forgiven for doing a double-take.
If one takes those figures alone, the State and city are paying around 60% of the total cost of the new stadium, while the Wilfs pay 40%. This leaves the citizenry of the State paying the lion’s share of the cost, though not by much. Sure, it’s an unfair ratio, but at least Zigi and company are paying nearly half, right? Wrong. Why wrong? Because tax write-offs and exemptions haven’t been factored in as yet.
After using conservative estimates to figure out expenses that Wilf and Co. could claim as write-offs and necessary business expense exemptions when filing their taxes in 2013 (or whenever this funding bill passes, if it does), the new stadium could cost them as much as $297 million, a difference of $107 million. All totaled, they’d wind up paying only 30% of the cost of the new stadium. So where, oh where, you may wonder, will the other 10% of expenses come from? Well, up front, Wilf and Co. will pay it. Afterwards, however, the fans will pay it in the form of increased ticket prices, exorbitant concessions costs, and merchandise costs.
Trust me, the Wilf family is going to do just fine.
What it all boils down to for me is that the Wilf family is getting their business subsidized, and to the tune of 595 million dollars, by State and City taxpayers. I’m not sure there’s enough Vikings fans in the State of Minnesota to warrant paying even a fraction of that cost, and for those of us who, like myself, support a different NFL team, there’s no good reason to expect that we’re going to be just fine with the idea of having a portion of our taxes go to pay for the Wilf family to do business.
This is a team that hasn’t had major post-season success beyond its recent appearance in the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Bounty Hunters (er, I mean, Saints) since a Super Bowl XI loss to the Oakland Raiders. Should they really be allowed to foist off the majority of the cost of their new digs on the taxpayers? I, for one, would say no. The Minnesota House of Representatives, however, seem inclined to kick the idea around for a little while longer before putting it to a vote.
Mighty generous of Governor Dayton and the State House to decide whether or not we will be compelled to root for the Vikings, if not by supporting the team in spirit as fans, then by doing so with our wallets as citizens.
Before anybody comes flying out of the woodwork to tell me, ‘Hey, people pay taxes for things they don’t like or support all of the time’, take a moment to eat a slice of shut-the-hell-up pie. While I don’t like having my tax dollars go towards the Department of Defense, it’s a necessary and essential component of our nation and our governmental structure. I get it. While some redneck, honkeytonk Tea Party jackhole may not like having money go from his check to the Department of Education, he should understand that without a proper education, Dr. Cleetus Jo-Henry-Bob Pines of Cousinhump Hill won’t be able to patch up that gunshot wound to his back he got because his buddy Skeeter mistook him for a deer when they were out ‘Huntin’ up grub’.
The case of the Vikings stadium isn’t anything like that, though. We’re talking about a professional sports stadium here, folks. Last time I checked, pro sports were not an essential component of a lasting and functional society. Shouldn’t the taxpayers of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have a direct say in this matter?
I could go on for longer on this, but for the time being, I’m going to let what’s here speak for itself. If and when I find out more about the whole situation, I’ll address the topic once again. Before I go, though, think on this; Minnesota is a fairly conservative state, and conservatives are always bitching and moaning about how we subsidize too many unnecessary expenses. If that’s so, perhaps we should take a look at this, the Wilf Family Subsidy, and give it the proper scrutiny it deserves.
Joshua T. Calkins-Treworgy, a native of Buffalo, New York, is a fantasy and horror author and runs a Youtube channel on which he frequently discusses the publishing industry and storytelling techniques, as well as brief stories he has written himself. He moved to Minnesota from New York State in February of 2012 with his fiancee, Katie Marie Mott. His first novel was published by Mr. Robert Preece of Booksforabuck in September of 2007, a fantasy work entitled Damnation of the Realm: Freedom or the Fire Volume One. He is the father of two girls, Cassandra and Celina, ages 8 and 6, respectively. Visit Joshua at http://www.youtube.com/user/Byronofsidius
Email Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org