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The Face of Stadium Subsidies

2009 December 4
by Skip Sauer

A great picture from the Minneaplois Star-Tribune:


These are Minnesota Vikings fans at the state capitol, “demanding public money for a new stadium.”

The accompanying article mentions one way under consideration to pay for the stadium: new taxes on new gambling.

Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, also was well-received. He wants a constitutional amendment that would allow revenue from slot machines at the state’s two horse racing tracks to be used for a Vikings stadium.

“We’re in debt a billion dollars,” said Hackbarth in addressing the shivering crowd. “We don’t have any money at the state level to put toward a stadium … this is the only way.”

This is consistent with political choices over the past 300 years of N. American history, a topic that I’ve studied a good bit. As I point out in my work, gambling revenue was once earmarked for things like bridges, hospitals, and university buildings. To my knowledge, stadiums are a recent addition to this list. Representative Hackbarth’s idea is similar to the mechanism used in Pennsylvania to finance the hockey arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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