While the Minnesota Vikings and their fans are engrossed in the 2012 NFL draft, lawmakers in St. Paul have been tinkering with ways to pay for a new stadium for the team.
The latest plan includes targeted taxes:
- A 4-percent income tax surcharge on Vikings players and executives who earn more than $200,000 a year,
- Sales tax increases on sports memorabilia, liquor and purchases in the new stadium, and
- A new sales tax on online purchases of NFL merchandise.
And yes, those taxes were proposed by a group of Republican state legislators.
This Follow-up Friday look at Minnesota's struggle to come up with money for a new home for the Vikes demonstrates just how much power professional sports still have even in tough economic times.
Some Minnesotans have strongly objected to local sales tax increases as a way to pay for new NFL stadium in the North Star State.
Those protests put the stadium funding ball back in the state legislature's hands.
And while taxes are never an easy thing for any lawmaker to suggest, the thought of losing the NFL franchise has prompted a group of Minnesota lawmakers to consider that option.
Republican state Rep. Mike Benson of Rochester says the new taxes are "more defensible" than a proposal to increase and tax gambling options in the state.
"If you're going to put an additional burden on people to pay for something like this, I think you have to look at the people who benefit from the use of it rather than others who may never show up at the stadium at all," state Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) told the Associated Press.
The state's roughly $400 million share of the new stadium cost covers just over a third of the facility's $1 billion price tag. The Vikings will pay $427 million. Another $150 million will come from an existing Minneapolis city sales tax.
Construction on the new stadium would get underway next year at the current decrepit Metrodome site if the state can come up with its portion of the money.
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