Here in the Upper Midwest its Packers-Vikings week so pretty much everyone is gearing up for the big NFL game Sunday in Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. Minnesota is 7-1 and Green Bay is 4-2 and Brett Favre is making his first trip back to Green Bay since 2008. You can see how this affects football fans in my neck of the woods, the border area between the two states, with this video.
What’s been interesting about Favre’s season with the Vikings is the political subtext just below the surface. Many sports and political observers (sometimes the two intertwine) believe the Vikings signed Favre because the team its has just one year to get to the Super Bowl and he’s the man to lead them there. They need to get to the Super Bowl not just for their own pride and egos and gratification but also to convince the governor and the state legislature to approve the money to support a new Vikings stadium to replace the Metrodome when the Vikings’ lease on the building runs out in 2011. A Super Bowl run will also make sure that fans in Minnesota will put pressure on state officials to come up with a plan to build a new stadium unless they wish to see the team become the “Los Angeles Vikings” and lay in the new facility being planned for the Left Coast.
But will the state’s fans, and the rest of taxpayers pay for it? Even with a Super Bowl team it’s still an open question. East Coast billionaire real estate magnate Zigy Wilf, who owns the Vikings, said he will only put up a quarter mil on the new facility, which may cost a billion to build in downtown Minneapolis. That leaves $750 million for the state’s taxpayers to fund. How, pray-tell, will the state of Minnesota find that kind of money? Well certainly not under a mattress. No, they will have to ask the taxpayers for it in some fashion or form (sales taxes, fess, etc).
This puts Governor Tim Pawlenty in a bit of a bind. Unlike his rivals for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination, he still has his day job. Certainly he doesn’t want the Vikings to leave the state on his watch so he’s on board with building a new facility, but he’s not offering any solutions on how to pay for it. If new taxes are the only way it gets built, will the Club for Growth forgive him because it was all to pay for a new football stadium? Well, if they didn’t let Mike Huckabee off the hook because of a measly food tax, you can imagine what their reaction will be and what the attack ads in Iowa and New Hampshire will look like. Pawlenty knows this as well as anyone, so it is quite the taxing teaser the young Minnesota governor and would-be president faces over the next two years.