Another stadium?

thBY ED FELIEN

Is it possible that local politicians haven’t learned their lesson?  There’s been recent talk about public funding for yet another sports stadium.  Bill McGuire, yes, that Bill McGuire, the one who ripped off $1.6 billion from UnitedHealth through backdating stock options and was ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission to repay $468 million, has bought a minor league soccer team and wants us to build him a brand new soccer stadium.
He tried to talk to the Wilf brothers about coordinating efforts, but the Wilfs weren’t interested.  They have said that when the time comes the new Vikings stadium will be suitable for playing soccer.  There is a certain irony in this in that the original Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington and the Humphrey Dome in downtown Minneapolis were built as multipurpose stadiums for football and baseball.  That notion was considered very old- fashioned, and Hennepin County was convinced that the taxpayers should build a new stadium just for baseball.  Then Zygi Wilf convinced the City of Minneapolis  and the State to fund a new billion dollar football stadium because there weren’t enough luxury seats in the old one.  So, now, we have come full circle; the new football stadium will be multipurpose and suitable for soccer when popular tastes tire of the head injuries and trauma associated with football and want to move to a less violent gladiatorial sport.
But Bill McGuire wants a taxpayer supported stadium dedicated just to soccer, and he’s got an important friend on the Hennepin County Board, Mike Opat, the moving force behind the Twins baseball stadium.  Gail Bonneville, on the Minneapolis Issues List, reports:  “In a fairly lengthy radio interview, Opat signals we need to get ready for the next taxpayer subsidy/handout for yet another downtown Minneapolis pro sports building. This time he’s got enough specifics on the topic to show he’s been spending way too much taxpayer time and effort on the topic—and probably county staff time and effort as well, because this proposal is definitely past the wish-list phase and into the ‘let’s get ‘er done’ phase for the billionaires behind Opat’s proposal.
“Opat also indicates he feels safe that taxpayers will stomach this mess because there’s only ‘a few cranky people’ left out there saying negative things about the Vikings tax deal and the Twins tax deal, and look how wonderful those projects turned out (paraphrasing Opat).”
“A few cranky people”?  Did Opat notice that in the last municipal election three incumbent City Council members lost their bids for re-election because of their support for voting for a taxpayer subsidy for a Vikings stadium?  And the mayor, who said his re-election campaign would be the only referendum needed on his support of the stadium, decided to forgo that referendum and not run for re-election?

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