Katie Kieffer

Never trust politicians to negotiate with jocks; the jocks will win millions of taxpayer dollars and embarrass fans by losing games.

I didn’t always feel opposition to public stadiums; I enjoy attending live sporting events; I like wearing my NFL, NHL and MLB gear and rooting for my favorite teams. But I’m not buying the “Stadiums create jobs!” chant anymore. Here’s why:

1.) Caving To Jocks

Politicians care more about looking cool in front of jocks than representing their constituents. Case in point: The new Vikings Stadium.

Remember the old Metrodome with the roof that collapsed under snow last December? The roof was replaced for $20 million. Still, politicians feared that Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf would move the team to Los Angeles unless the taxpayers built them a new stadium.

So, on May 10, Minnesota’s Republican legislators voted to give billionaire Zygi millions of taxpayer dollars. 33 Republicans in the House and 15 Republicans in the Senate voted “yes” on a $975 million stadium project for the Vikings.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell basically pranced into town and told legislators: “Minnesota needs football.” And, guess what? They caved. They didn’t negotiate or exert their leverage. Everyone knew the NFL did not want to uproot the Vikings. Nielsen reports that the Vikings command the league’s fourth-highest TV ratings; the Vikings have 51 years of history in Minnesota; every Vikings game since 1998 has been sold out; 24 of 32 NFL owners must approve any relocation and transfer fees could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Zygi Wilf will never, ever get a fan base as zealous as he has right now in Minnesota. There is a love you simply will not find out here [in Los Angeles]. Minnesotans are willing to miss the bow hunting season to watch a 40-year-old QB [Brett Favre] get a dose of Flomax on the sidelines,” comedian Jeff Cesario writes in the Pioneer Press. Bottom line, Republican legislators had tons of leverage to tell the Wilfs to pony up significantly more cash, and they wimped out.

Nearly all of the Republican legislators who are retiring this year voted “yes” on the stadium whereas most of the Republicans who are staying in politics voted “no.” If the six retiring Republican senators had voted “no,” the stadium project would not have passed 36-30.


Katie Kieffer

Katie Kieffer is a columnist and political commentator. She runs KatieKieffer.com. Kieffer is the author of the forthcoming book "LET ME BE CLEAR."