Friday, December 31, 2010

Published articles to date (as of December 2010)

MAC "Town Hall Meeting" on the Anoka County - Blaine Airport
Ron Holch
Printed in The Blaine Banner
September 1, 2010

It seems nearly everyone was given very little notice of this August meeting.  It was  announced to most citizens by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) only 2 days before it occurred.

Barbara Haake and Jack Plasch who are on the AC/B Airport Advisory Commission both said they did not hear about this town Hall Meeting until Monday, August 16.

This prompted many at the meeting to be reminded of the  near coup instigated by some Anoka County Commissioners only last November when they attempted with lighting speed and with out public input to expand Anoka County - Blaine Airport another 1000 feet.   This move would have changed the Airports status to an "intermediate airport" and open the legal doors for expansion to 8000 feet. 

At this meeting we learned from MAC Official Gary Schmidt that Operations (take-offs or landings) have increased from 68,00 in 2009 to 80,000 this year .  This is a jump up of 18% in just one year.  Well above MAC predictions.

I asked Mr. Schmidt if there was any particular reason and he said traffic is up across the board for all flight categories.  Mr. Schmidt also indicated that the MAC has no current plan for an expansion to 6000 feet of any runway at AC Blaine Airport.
But the MAC will consider any proposal that comes forward.  In my opinion this is the best reason for all of us to remain vigilant. 

We have enough evidence from the past to inform us that change can come fast and final if we do not keep our ears to the ground. 

Finally we were told that the MAC plans to have Town Hall Meetings for Anoka Blaine Airport on an annual basis.

Maybe they can give us better notice of the next meeting.  We will be watching.


Anoka County Board Pursues Airport Expansion
Ron Holch
Printed in The Blaine Banner
 November 4, 2009

It appears that airport expansion is not going well for the Anoka County Board.  In 2008 the County provided infrastructure to the tune of $20 million in order to lure Key Air to AC/Blaine, a minor airport.  An official Anoka County Economic Development pdf on Janes Field (AC/Blaine Airport) refers to this as a “unique public private partnership”.

This last summer, Key Air, the recently designated Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at AC/Blaine has already asked for, and received, a forgiveness from Anoka County of its obligation for an entire year’s worth of rent, starting from 7-1-09 and ½ payment for the year after that.  This is less than two years after Key Air opened its doors in Blaine. The past-due rent is supposed to be paid back with interest over a 20-year period starting July 1 of 2011. 

According to the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s (MAC’s) own information, flights per year at AC/Blaine have been dropping steadily since 2000. With an ailing economy the prospects for more flights seem dim for now.  The MAC forecast is that flight operations will continue to drop for the foreseeable future.

But some in Anoka County are still seeing blue skys. October brought news of a new company, Flight Line, and its request to the MAC, to open a restaurant and event center (50,000 sq feet) with catering, a bar, and gift shop.  Flight Line already has a development use agreement with, the MAC for the project.  Will this be the next black hole for our county tax money?

Up until now State law (MS473.641; Subd 4) designates that a minor airport has runways no longer than 5,000 feet The Metropolitan Council is working to update its Transportation /Aviation plan while the MAC is updating its Long term Comprehensive Plan (LTCP).  A consultant to the Metropolitan council has suggested a change in Airport designations to create Minor I (0 feet to 4,500 feet) and Minor II (4,501 feet-6,000 feet) airports.  This could effectively repeal the existing law and immediately allow for AC/Blaine to expand to 6,000 feet from its current 5,000 foot runway.   Keep in mind that the AC/Blaine airport just finished expanding in 2006 from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet.

Airport expansion proponents always site the same excuse, “safety.” Clearly this is an endless argument.  Inevitably the question arises just how many feet a runway would have to be in order to make it as safe as possible.   In fact the MAC has admitted that safety is not the reason for expansion.  A MAC representative stated last summer that airport expansion is a business decision not a safety decision.

The public does not yet know if the Minor I Minor II idea will be a part of the LTCP.  The “Draft LTCP” for the AC/Blaine Airport has been delayed, but should be ready by November 23. 
If you do not want AC/Blaine to expand further, there are a number of things you can do.  First, the LTCP plan will be open for comments between November 23 and December 22.  Keep your eyes open for this release of the LTCP on November 23, 2009 at the MAC website, read it and send comments to:

Bridget Rief
Metropolitan Airports Commission
6040 28th Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55450

This is the only input the public will have to the LTCP plan.  After that the MAC will have 30 days to review the comments and write responses from January 2 to January 22, 2010.  Next the MAC will request authority to submit the LTCP to the Met council on February3, 2010.
Here is second thing you can do: In order for the new idea of Minor I and Minor II designations to happen, the State Legislature must change the existing law. Contact your State House Rep and State Senator and tell them you see no reason to change the law.  Also contact your city officials and find out where they stand on this issue.

Third continue to pay attention to this issue.   Watch the news papers and emails, and go to the CCNM website .  It is not going away any time soon.  We know from experience that things can move very fast and we have to stay on our toes.  In an October 2009 article in the Minneapolis community news paper “South Side Pride”, the publisher/editor said that the MAC gave his monthly newspaper just over two days notice of a meeting to discuss the MAC Long term Comprehensive Plan for MSP Airport.

To those who do not seem to understand why we would complain about airport expansion when we bought property near an airport.  We say the AC/Blaine airport is not the same airport we were told it was when we invested, and the efforts to expand are rapidly increasing.

Would you allow the street in front of your house to become a freeway, as happened to the folks on Radisson Road,  just because there was already a road there?


What is Happening in ANE Airport News?
Ron Holch
Printed in The Blaine Banner
August 5, 2009

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) held it’s “Informational Meetings” about Anoka County Blaine Airport (ANE) Wednesday and Thursday nights (7/29, 7/30) at the Schwan Center in Blaine.  The presentation mostly relayed history and the current situation at the ANE airport with questions at the end.  Very little was available about what the future would hold.  I asked about the future and did not get much of an answer except a definition of what Minor l and Minor ll airports are from Dennis Probst the MAC's executive director of planning and development (more on this at a latter time).

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the PR show was when Scott Skramstad the MACs Noise Program Coordinator got up to talk about the MAC Noise complaint website  Here you can lodge a complaint on line.  There are also some new features which allow anyone to view individual flight paths of aircraft to and from ANE at least 5 days old with an interactive program.  The website has a feature called “Flight tracker”.  Here you can click on each flight path and obtain more information such as the type of aircraft and noise level.  Soon this information will be available within 24 hours.  It will never be presented in real time do to security concerns.  There is a Google maps feature which also shows the altitude profile of each flight.   I went to the sight and could not yet find ANE flight data.  Also when I asked Skramstad he would not say what percentage of flights would be included in the program.  We will know more when it is up and running and we use this tool for a while and see for ourselves.   You can submit a noise complaint online at   For those who would rather submit complaints by phone the Mac Noise complaint phone number is 612-726-9411.

Skramstad wanted everyone to know that “Most complaints will not change the way the airport operates”.  This maybe true to a degree but the MAC has a noise complaint line for a reason.  History shows even the most totalitarian governments want to know how people react to policy.  Despite what they say your voice of concern matters to elected and appointed officials. 

On another note; to date Mounds View, Lexington, Circle Pines, Lino Lakes and Centerville have all passed resolutions opposed to runway expansion at ANE.  After promising it citizens to pass a resolution opposing Airport expansion at a City council meeting in June Blaine, the city with Airport in its boundaries, has decided not to pass a resolution.  The argument is that with its comprehensive plan sans an airport expansion is a stronger statement than a resolution.  But a comp plan can be amended and is voted on as a whole and thus the lines of accountability can be more obscured.  A city Resolution shows each members vote specifically on the issue of runway expansion.  Perhaps this is more accountability than most city Blaine City officials want.


Private  Owner, Not Taxpayers, Should Pay for New Stadium
By Ron Holch, Shar Jess and Dave Bicking
Printed in The Saint Paul Pioneer Press
March 11, 2008

"Maybe there is never a good time to talk about financing a stadium ...." We agree with Chairman Roy Terwilliger, who spoke those words during the final Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) "Listening Tour" at the Metrodome in January.
We would add that, given the dismal state of our state, county and city budgets, it is time for a team owner to pay for his own improvements to any privately held entertainment business. Other sports team owners across the country have done so, and we as Minnesotans deserve as much.

The facilities commission spent $400,000 of our tax money on this listening tour for the privately held Vikings team. Where is the listening tour for our state's schools, libraries, roads, rails, and bridges? Does the state's spending $1.4 billion (principal and 30 years' worth of interest) to fund a mortgage for one of the richest men we can find make any sense, especially in light of a projected $935 million state budget deficit?

What would a new stadium bring to the taxpayers that the current and still-usable one does not, besides a tax hike during a recession? All the talk of bringing our community together rings hollow when the extra cost will be to build more exclusive boxes in a new stadium. This extra cost, 3.75 times more than our current facility in today's dollars, will benefit the owner, not the fans, who will see huge increases in ticket prices along with new fees as well. Twins owner Carl Pohlad gets every source of revenue from his new stadium, and the taxpayers are left with the mortgage. Do we really want this to happen again?

Yes, it is true that some jobs will be created with a new facility. A few jobs may even be permanent, but not many. Anyone who does the research can see for themselves that using tax dollars for stadiums is not an efficient means of increasing the cash flow into the area. The newest study — the McGladrey Report — ignores this basic fact: People will spend their discretionary income locally whether or not we give them an expensive sports palace.

What message are we giving our children when we use their credit card to build three new stadiums, and then go about cutting back on schools and libraries in a feeble attempt to look for ways to save a mere fraction of the stadium's cost?

Ron Holch wrote on behalf of Taxpayers for an Anoka County Stadium Referendum; Shar Jesse on behalf of Citizens Campaigning Against Renegade Legislators; and Dave Bicking on behalf of Citizens Against Stadium Taxes.

Taxpayers Who Don't Want a Raw Deal Must Demand a Stadium Referendum
Ron Holch
Printed in The StarTribune
May 17, 2006

An Open Letter to our State Officials:

I am writing to you to ask for your support as we face the greatest threat to our counties in dollars and democratic process yet.

I urge you to be sure to include a referendum for any stadium bill that you consider.  I believe that the unprecedented enormity of tax dollars given to a private business and the unprecedented waivers of existing Statute 297A.99 which are currently written into both the Twins and Vikings stadium bills will gut the sprit of the Statute.   We still do not know if citizens will have any say in this matter.  It seems that everyone wants a stadium as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

We need a referendum on all Stadium taxes in order to ensure that those who pay and those who vote are one and the same.  You are our last best hope.

Our Anoka County Board has abandoned the taxpayer by making exaggerated economic claims, which have never been realized by any stadium anywhere, in order to enrich a few wealthy team players and owners who do not even live in our county. 

After three years of relentless Stadium advocacy our County Board has yet to hold its first open public forum.

Anoka County has spent over 1 million dollars of our tax money on stadium promotion.

The Anoka County website is designed to sell a stadium to its citizens, inviting proponents comments while those who disagree are given no forum for comment.

The City of Lino Lakes recently commissioned an independent survey executed by Decision Resources LTD.   The results indicated that 84% of us want a referendum for taxes on a Stadium.  This percent fits with other statewide sample pools taken in the past.

I have asked The Lino Lakes City council to look into the added cost of police, fire and road construction for the stadium located next to our border for over a year now and so far they have been unwilling to listen. Instead they refused by a 3-2 vote to pass a resolution I brought forth supporting MN statute 297A.99.

Recent news stories indicate that 2.7 million dollars will soon be cut from two County children and family programs for at risk children and soon cuts will come to Medical Assistance dollars as well. With Federal dollars dwindling these programs will not survive.  Meanwhile the County moves forward to spend hundreds of times this amount thinking that somehow a stadium is more important.  The taxes for a stadium will also adversely impact our elderly on fixed incomes who are unable the keep up with the rapid pace of recent tax increases.  In taking of taxes from the poor and giving them to the rich our Anoka County commissioners seem to have decided on a Robin Hood in reverse policy for its citizens.

All we are asking is that you strike from any stadium bill the language which exempts any stadium taxes from the referendum law.  It seems only fair since taxation with representation was a bedrock principal to our founding fathers.   I do not need to remind you that this basic American principal will not be forgotten at the voting booth in November.

The proponents always want to tell you these stadia are a good deal now and we cannot wait for later.  If that were true why do they have to force us to pay for stadia without even an up or down vote by those who foot the bill?

Thank You


Recent Events Related to a Viking Stadium in Blaine
Ron Holch
Printed in The StarTribune
January 17, 2006

The Recent news for Anoka county taxpayers is that the price for a Vikings Stadium has gone up again.  Now we are told that the price tag is $790 million, up from $600 million less than 2 years ago.  This is news to State taxpayers as well because now the Vikings want $230 million dollars in new state money.  These new figures do not include the cost of financing bonds for the project: when this interest is added to the taxpayer amount revenues of between 1 billion and 1.4 billion will need to be collected.  This still does not include the other hidden costs of this giveaway including: extra police officers, training and equipment, extra fire personnel and equipment, a new well to meet the huge increase in water demand in Blaine (a city that already sees annual watering bans) and local road improvements not included in the latest stadium proposal.

Meanwhile Anoka County officials still want us to believe that the issue is too complicated for us to understand.  It is not.  Put simply: more than 1 billion dollars will leave our taxpaying pockets to go past our schools and end up in Zygi Wilf’s pocket, never to be seen again.  I say this because no one yet has pointed to an existing stadium that can live up to any one economic improvement claim made by Anoka County officials.  And even though the value of the team will rise with a new stadium, there is no legal document that says Mr. Wilf and his team have to stay and use the proposed stadium for the length of the 30-year financing.

There is a common thread to all the recent Vikings news.   Whether it’s players behaving so badly that cruise employees fear for their safety, or a property owner whose land was unabashedly violated by team players, or Anoka County officials trying to force taxes on their citizens without a state required vote, these events carry the earmarks of a culture of bullying.  Mr. Wilf may not have realized what he was getting into when he bought the team but he has inherited this trouble.  

I submit that if Mr. Wilf wants to get along with Minnesotan citizens, he needs to reign in the bully behavior and rethink his stadium plans.

In Massachusetts and entirely different story is playing out.  The New England Patriots Football Team owner Robert Kraft built the Gillette stadium with 100% of his own money.  This seems to have worked out very well for Mr. Kraft, the taxpayers and the team. You may know that the Patriots have won 3 out of the last 4 SuperBowls.  This model is a winner for all Vikings Stadium stakeholders as well.


Everything You Have Wanted to Know About Stadiums But Were Afraid to Ask
Ron Holch
Printed in The Blaine Banner
January 4, 2006

Here is a handy information kit so that you too can build a case against public funding for a stadium at home and in your spare time!

Thomas Jefferson once said “Whenever people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government” In that spirit I thought it would be a good idea to provide a list of resources so that anyone can get up to speed on the stadium issue.  All you need is some time and an Internet connection or contact the Northtown Branch of Anoka Co. Library, 711 County Road 10 NE, Blaine (763-717-3267) and they can help you find the information.  Hopefully anyone who reads this will no longer have to take anyone’s word for statements made in the stadium financing debate. 

Bills before the state legislature

H.F. No. 2294
H.F. No. 2295
S.F. No. 2061
S.F. No. 2062
Fair Stadium Funding Act

Polling place finder

Here you can enter your street address and find the name and location or your polling place as well as all your political District numbers; US House, MN Senate, MN House, County Commissioner, Judicial Dist. and School Dist.

Existing State Law

Minnesota Statute 297A.99 (Local Sales Taxes) Subd. 3.
[Outlines the requirement for a vote on an increase in sales tax.]

Economic Studies and articles

Carlino, Gerald A., and N. Edward Coulsen ‘Should Cities Be Ready for Some Football?’  Bus Review (Fed Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), 2nd Quarter, 2004 [Not an economic study but a “Quality of life” argument for stadiums.  The last sentence says that school funding should be the first priority]

Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis, The Preserve at Rice Creek” Economics Research Associates  [This study paid for by your tax dollars makes “pie-in-the-sky predictions about the “economic benefits” of a sports stadium.  Ask your County Commissioner for a copy]

Rappaport, Jordan, and Wilkerson. Chad. ‘What are the Benefits of Hosting a Major Sports Franchise? Economic Review (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City), 1st Quarter 2001, p 55-86.
[This study concludes the financial ‘benefits are much smaller than the outlay of public funds’.]

Rolnick, Art, Gruenwald, Rob. ‘Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return’ (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis), [This paper lays out the case for education, not stadiums as the best use of taxes for economic benefit]
Bast, Joseph L., “Sports Stadium Madness: Why It Started, How to Stop It” (summary)  [Here you find out what is happening nation wide and why taxing for stadium funding is a bad idea.] (
Gulibon, Grant, Hood, John, The Economist, “Put Pro Sports Blackmailers Out of Business”
[Tells what is really happening with public stadium financing]


(2010 blog note: some of these sites are no longer available, but are being listed as part of the original article documentation)

Taxpayers Against an Anoka County Vikings Stadium []

Anoka County Watchdog


Zygi Wilf (Vikings team owner): “Wilf said if anyone is waiting for him to pay for the entire stadium project,’It won’t be happening’” Star Tribune 11/22/05 page S2

Margaret Langfeld (Anoka Co. Chairman): "To try to explain the detail, the average voter doesn't want to be bothered," said Margaret Langfeld” Stadium Proposals Jostle for Support” Mike Kaszuba and Dane Smith, Star Tribune, 9/25/05

Scott Ladoux (Anoka Co. Commissioner): Voters are “too uneducated” to make a decision about the stadium. Blaine Banner p.2, 10/02/05

Dan Erhart (Anoka Co Commissioner): “These things happen- they come and go, we’ll get by them” (1 day after the Vikings boat scandal broke) Star Tribune p. A4, 10/13/05

For more information

Resources on Minnesota Issues “Financing Professional Sports Facilities” [A comprehensive six page bibliography on the Stadium financing issue.]

Frequently Asked Questions

·         How can Counties get around existing state law and avoid a referendum?  Anyone who wishes to change or skirt a state law must go through the State Legislature to do so.
·         How can I find out about current state legislation?  Go to the link listed above under “Bills before the state legislature”.
·         Why do County officials keep saying that stadiums are good for our economy when they are not?  Anoka County bases its argument on economic predictions instead of hard numbers.  You will not find an existing stadium used as an example to back up their clams. 
·         What about the threat of the Vikings leaving if we don’t pay for their stadium?  Here in the upper Midwest we live in a huge sports market which teams have so far been reluctant to leave.  It is not our decision as taxpayers to decide which team stays and which team goes.  As long as the NFL teams are an unregulated monopoly they can and will do what ever they like.
·         What have other communities done when the stadium question arises? Robert Craft owner of the New England Patriots paid 100% of Gillette Field.  In the face of resistance to taxpayer financing, the Cardinals put up $300 million of the $393 million price tag to replace the Busch Stadium.
·         What will be the total amount tax needed for a stadium?  Revenues of at least 1 billion are needed to pay the taxpayer cost of the Vikings stadium plan ($510 million) plus the financing of a 30-year mortgage.
·         What can I do to prevent my taxes from being spent on this giveaway?  Call Gov Pawlenty right away and tell him we do not need a 2nd special session.  Call 651-296-3391
o       Call your county Commissioner if you live in Anoka Co. and tell them to stop spending money to promote this irresponsible giveaway.
o       Next, no matter where you live in the state, call your Senator and House Rep and tell them we want to keep the referendum on new taxes mandated by state law for stadiums.  Eventually they will all have to vote on taxes for stadiums.
o       Next, write the major newspapers and local papers and tell them what you think about these welfare checks to the richest men in the State.
“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal element of all republics” -- Plato


When It Comes To Stadiums,
Show Us The Money
Ron Holch
Printed in The Blaine Banner
April 6, 2005

More often than not I hear Vikings stadium proponents say something like, don’t you realize we would be fools not to take advantage of this great opportunity to bring money into Anoka County?

The idea that stadiums mean money and jobs is an irresistible lure and understandably so.  The dirty little secret is that this could not be further from the truth. 

The Anoka County Board has spent at least a million of our tax dollars to promote a stadium in Blaine.  Over half of this money has gone to the Hammes Company who commissioned the Economics Research Associates (ERA) to do an  “Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis of The Preserve at Rice Creek”.  The Preserve is the “master planned community” development project surrounding the proposed stadium.  This document states that “ERA has forecasted the likely economic impacts for both construction and annual operations” of the project.  In other words it is a prediction, not a study of hard numbers from an existing stadium. No existing stadium has shown an economic gain for more than a few surrounding eating and drinking establishments.   In short the Hammes Company was paid to tell The Anoka County Board what it wanted to hear.

The Anoka County Board made a point of including highlights from a Philadelphia Federal Reserve study on their website which predicts that a stadium will add a “quality of life benefit” to a host community.  The very last sentence in an article describing the study and written by its creators Carlino and Coulson states: “This of course, is not the same thing as recommending that cities immediately decide to fund stadiums if only because the opportunity cost of appropriating such funds is the elimination of other, possibly more worthy programs, such as building new schools.”

It is understandable -- when we see all the money passing from billionaires to millionaires and the high cost of tickets and refreshments -- to assume that somehow money returns to the community where it is spent. The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has compiled a guide called “Financing Professional Sports Facilities”; it is available on the web.  This site has five pages of references to the foolishness of public money for stadiums.  In a recent interview Ken Zapp, Economics professor and Director of Graduate Programs at Metropolitan State University said that stadiums such as the Blaine proposal have no net economic benefit.

Professor Zapp is not alone in his conclusion.  In his testimony before the Minnesota House Tax Committee last year Arthur J. Rolnick, Senior Vice President and Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis said that when it comes to stadiums “the economics are weak”.   In a recent paper written for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis he argued that it is education that has the best return on our tax dollars,  “Minnesota represents a good example of the economic benefits that flow from education. Evidence is clear that our state has one of the most successful economies in the country because it has one of the most educated workforces.  In 2000, almost a third of persons 25 and older in Minnesota held at least a bachelor’s degree, the sixth highest state in the nation. To ensure the future success of Minnesota’s economy, we must continue to provide a highly educated workforce.”

Unfortunately for the citizens of Minnesota our school systems have recently seen severe cutbacks.  The Governor’s 2005 proposed budget for education does not even keep up with inflation.  For several years our local Centennial District school test scores have dropped and class sizes have increased, while the unfunded mandate of  “No Child Left Behind” has put ever-increasing pressure on teachers and school officials.

We have wasted precious time and tax money to develop new and creative ideas for giving our money to a billionaire. When will we see this same level of creativity put into funding education, a real economic powerhouse for our state?   How long can we ignore our future?  When will we stop trying to find ways to spend a huge amount of tax money for a small amount of entertainment?


Fuzzy Stadium Data
Ron Holch
Printed in The Star Tribune
Mach 9, 2005
The studies cited by Jerry Teeson in his March 2 article in Star Tribune North have one thing in common: They both claim the economic benefits of taxpayer-financed stadiums, and the numbers in both are nothing more than guesswork.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank study Teeson cited based its findings upon hypothesis and speculation, not fact.
Teeson stated as fact yet another speculation: that the Blaine stadium project would create 8,700 permanent jobs. The Hammes Company study stating these numbers did not use hard data from existing stadiums - it made projections.
There are many more studies with hard numbers showing that stadiums contribute little or nothing to an area's economy.
Believing that stadiums help an economy is Peter Pan economics. If you want to believe you can fly, that is OK. If you want us to believe you can fly, you had better be able to fly, and these numbers don't fly.

Owner, Not Public, Should Buy Stadium
Ron Holch
Printed in The StarTribune

January 26, 2005

Why should Vikings owner Red McCombs pay for his own stadium?

Because he can.  McCombs -- shareholder of Clear Channel Communications, with more than 1,200 radio and 39 TV stations -- is estimated to be worth more than $1.2 billion.  He does not own the Vikings out of any special interest in Minnesota sports. He once said, "I've always looked at sports as a way to get a return."

In 1998 he bought the team for $246 million. Last year Forbes magazine valued the Vikings at $604 million. That's an increase in value of more than 145 percent.

McCombs is not interested in investing much in the team. Mike Tice, the lowest-paid head coach in the NFL, had to dip into his own expense budget last fall to pay for two new TVs and to reupholster some chairs for the players, according to a report in the Oct. 27 Sports Illustrated. Money that McCombs has promised to contribute to a new stadium would come from revenue streams created by the project and not from his pocket.
Economics professors at the University of Dayton examined the 13 stadiums built between 1989 and 2001.  They concluded that teams would probably recover all or nearly all the cost of construction if ballparks were built with private instead of taxpayer money.

Recently, the New England Patriots and the St. Louis Cardinals built stadiums almost entirely from team-owner money. But many billionaire owners think they don't have to spend while there is free money from taxpayers. All levels of government seem to drift more and more toward privatized profits at public expense.

It is wrong to expect us to subsidize hugely profitable businesses. Taxpayers don't want to pay for new stadiums. A year ago a poll done for the Star Tribune found "62 percent and 65 percent, respectively, against taxes going to Twins and Vikings facilities." The same poll said, "A Twin Cities-area sales tax was supported by 25 percent of respondents and rejected by 72 percent."

The Anoka County Board confuses future Vikings stadium jobs with jobs created by a surrounding business complex to claim that 8,700 permanent jobs will be created in Blaine. This speculation is based on a study bought by the county and paid for by taxpayers who have already paid a million dollars to promote the scheme. How many of these jobs are part-time, low-income, nonstadium or transferred from other metro locations? Why not use the economic study of an existing stadium? Why does the Anoka County Board resist citizen input by arguing against a referendum on new taxes?

Now in 2005, even without a stadium tax, we have immense tax increases despite Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "no new tax" pledge. Last year the state permanently cut local government aid. This means that while the state continues to tax us just as much, local governments are taxing us at accelerated rates while cutting services.

In Lino Lakes my property taxes will go up about 17 percent this year alone.  Our Centennial High School will have more students, fewer resources and class sizes reaching 40 students next year.

The University of Minnesota wants a new stadium for athletes whose graduation rate is the lowest in the Big Ten.

All this adds up to less government but more taxes. You never hear McCombs talk about these things, because unlike the team owners in St. Louis and New England, he shows no concern for our state, our schools or our future.

Minnesotans may want to ask: If the citizens don't want to pay taxes for stadiums, why do government officials keep pushing to do so?


Casino Tax
Ron Holch
Printed in The Blaine Banner
December 1, 2004

Governor Pawlenty has found a way to generate revenue and keep his no new taxes pledge-- to his voting base at least.  But wait, if he really wants to show no bias in his new tax. Why doesn’t he expand his idea to all big money generators of the states for profit entertainment industry?  How about a 25% tax on the Wild, Timber Wolves, Twins and Vikings as well.


No Taxes for a Vikings Stadium in Anoka County
Ron Holch
Printed in Blaine Banner
May 5, 2004

The Anoka County Board and the City of Blaine have presented the Preserve at Rice Creek as the answer to a stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.  Here are a few questions about the proposed Vikings Stadium for Blaine:

Why is it assumed that to not want to pay more taxes means that you are against the Minnesota Vikings?

If the Vikings use the stadium for 10 home games per year where is the plan for use of the stadium during the other 355 days of the year?

Why are our leaders so willing to be creative with stadium financing and so unwilling to adequately fund our schools whose test scores are falling (ISD #12: math scores 4% in the last two years)?

Why does Red McCombs need our tax money more than the 18 teachers who were laid off or cut back this year from employment at the closest School board to the proposed stadium site (ISD #12)?

Where is the study that will show the cost and extent of water, roads, public safety changes and eventual tear down costs needed for a stadium in Blaine?

Will the voters of Anoka be guaranteed a vote on whether their taxes are going to pay for a Vikings Stadium?

Where does it say the Viking stadium cost to the taxpayers of Anoka will never go higher than $240,000,000.00?

Why are there no specific dollar amounts mentioned for the “Capital improvements” and “the cost of this fund” that the Stadium Authority can require the host communities to contribute to?

How can we believe a Governor who will take credit for keeping the Vikings in Minnesota by proposing a new  $600,000,000.00 stadium and still claim he has been true to his no new tax pledge to the citizens of Anoka County and the state of Minnesota?

Are there any taxes that would absolutely not be included in the funding of a Vikings Stadium?

How does the”mixed use master-planned development that would incorporate a Vikings stadium complex” get called “The Preserve” when by definition a preserve is “ an area maintained to protect wildlife or natural resources”?

If this is a good idea why are there no other cities or counties competing for the Vikings Stadium?


Ron Holch
Printed in Pulse of the Twin Cities
April 4, 2004

The State wants to stick the cost of a new Vikings stadium to one of the most underdeveloped counties in the Metro area. A plan for a stadium in Blaine leaves the taxpayers of Anoka County with the tab.  The Anoka County finance plan was adopted by the County and the City of Blaine and is subject to the MN Legislature adopting the enabling Bill (HF3089). This is unlike previous stadium proposals. If this stadium bill passes the legislature, Anoka County alone would be responsible for at least 1/3 of the cost of this new project “up to $240 million” in new taxes.

This giveaway would leave Anoka Co. schools and roads and public safety without needed revenues. Currently the total stadium price tag is $600 million. According to Rep Phyllis Kahn, this is more than three times the cost of the Metrodome in today’s dollars.  And the price does not include site preparation costs in what is essentially undeveloped open land.  Many tax increases have been mentioned including:

  • General Sales tax, county-wide
  • Taxes on bars restaurants and lodging, county-wide.
  • Ticket and parking taxes at the stadium
  • In-stadium sales and income taxes
  • “Captured Taxes” from so-called new revenues generated within the stadium district (i.e. the closer you are to the stadium more of your local taxes will pay for the project, a sort of black hole of taxes.)

According to testimony from Stadium Bill author Rep. Stang, possible future “Special Assessments” could leave the door open for any kind of tax.   According to the Bill, a ten member Stadium Authority will be appointed by the governor to act independently.  The Bill language says

“ The authority may require that a reserve fund for capital improvements to the stadium be set up and may require the teams and the host communities’ governments to contribute to the fund in a manner and on the terms the authority determines.”

The capital improvements are not specified and the amount of the fund is not indicated.  The Governor appoints all seven of the Authority members.  While once again avoiding the appearance of raising taxes, Governor Pawlenty will appoint an ‘Authority' that writes itself a blank check.

Unfortunately for the taxpayer, the Legislature is moving very quickly.  The Stadium Bill passed its first two committees within six days of its introduction. The Bill passed “without further recommendation” through both house committees without roll call votes. This means no committee member has yet committed to a vote on the bill itself.  According to one state Rep there is still a danger that the final bill will not even include a referendum for the tax increases to Anoka County voters. 

 Why build a Stadium in Anoka County?  Hennepin and Ramsey counties want the Twins Stadium in their counties because at 81 home games per season, the Twins are a substantial revenue generator.  The Vikings play 10 at home games per season, making it much harder to recover the cost of a Vikings Stadium.  No wonder no other city or county is interested in paying a third of the cost of a Viking Stadium. 

The Anoka County Board is already cranking up the spin machine.  At a Town hall meeting in late March, Steve Novak an Anoka County Division Manager, proffered a slide presentation and a brochure both of which were heavy on graphics and light on information.  The Stadium would be part of a whole development at the Northeast corner of 35W and Lexington Avenue in Blaine called “The Preserve At Rice Creek”.  The plan calls for “mixed use”, “environmental conservancy” and “wetland development”, and for the stadium “to be utilized on a year-round basis”.  Imagine tuning to your favorite TV broadcast some night in the future to the sound of a gravely, well hung voice announcing a monster truck rally; NEXT WEEK AT THE PRESERVE!!!  BE THERE!!! 

What can you do?  Here are some ideas. First let your representatives know you want a chance to vote on any tax increases to pay for a stadium.  Use the to find your legislators and write letters.  Write letters to any local publications.  Also testify at the legislative hearings.  The next one will be the House Tax Committee hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. 

In the 1970s the late great newscaster Dave Moore made a rare editorial comment on the passage of the Minneapolis Metrodome Bill.  He called it “a monument to greed.”   Here’s a suggestion for the Anoka County Board.  Why not have The Preserve live up to it’s name and set aside the stadium acreage as a preserve in The Preserve.  Leave it in its current, open beauty as a monument to environmental and fiscal stewardship.

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