A new Vikings stadium is expected to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $400 million. The overall cuts to Health and Human Services is $403 million. I am not a big football fan and will easily admit that I do not appreciate the finer points of the game and am thus likely to brush off the significance of a new stadium both to the team and to the state.
The group “Save the Vikes” make the very valid point that Minnesota has failed to invest in our professional teams’ facilities in the past, leading to a lack of a hockey team and the loss of the Lakers. However, in these trying economic times where our state is unable to balance the budget, where our education system is left with an enormous IOU and the cuts to our health care will leave many of our most vulnerable (literally) out in the cold.
The Vikings have done some research and found that a new stadium can bring about 20,000 new jobs and lead to $20 million in direct tax revenue. That is great, since we will need that $20 million to cover the $43 million lost to HCMC alone with the cuts in GAMC. And perhaps some of the 20,000 new jobs can be allotted to the estimated 7,600 who will lose jobs due to the health care cuts. If the remaining 12,400 jobs created by the new stadium could be given to some of the 30,000 + people cut from the GAMC or the possible 35,000 MNCare recipients in danger of losing their MinnesotaCare coverage with the addition of the GAMC recipients that would be just great.
It is not that I don’t appreciate football or sports, because I do. Nor is it a matter of not wanting the Vikings, who are doing great this season, to have a proper home. It is just that I know that the people who play for the Vikings and most of the people who will be watching the Vikings play in a new stadium have a home, unlike a great majority of the GAMC recipients. When it comes down to it I would rather give our disenfranchised and vulnerable some kind of affordable health care that can help them become productive citizens than provide the Vikings with a new stadium just because the Metrodome is nothing to write home about. It would be better if we didn’t have to choose.