28 October 2011

Let Zygi Pay

The hayseeds here in Minnesota are poised to give up the farm to New Jersey shopping mall mogul and real estate baron Zygi Wilf.

Wilf, who owns the Minnesota Vikings, is holding Minnesota hostage for a new football stadium. Zygi's apologists in Minnesota's sports press warn failure to build a new stadium will force to Zygi moving the team to Los Angeles.

I reject the notion of some shyster, his minions, and his apologists, taking Minnesotans for a bunch of hayseeds.

Some state leaders are open to using the state's Legacy funds to finance a new football stadium. One source would be Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund which is generated by a sales tax that voters approved in 2008. The program will distribute some $6.75 million in 2010 and 2011 to presumably culturally significant causes. Minnesota legislation directed that grants were to be given statewide:
to programs and projects conducted by local, county, or state historical organizations or activities that preserve significant historic and cultural resources
Minnesota’s professional sports teams do indeed become part Minnesota’s cultural heritage and do unquestionably comprise a portion of Minnesota’s cultural identity to the rest of the world. When outsiders mention Minnesota, they typically enumerate over our lakes, our winters, and The Vikings.

However there are many more culturally meaningful ways to use the resources of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund than to dole out corporate welfare to some wheeler-dealer with a grip full of his own cheddar.

It would be a mistake. It is not in Minnesota's best interest to set the culturally degrading precedent of dipping into that fund to help finance a new Vikings stadium.
Americans build stadia as a monument to sloth-like desire for entertainment at the expense of essential institutions like public schools.
Professional sports teams have made an unseemly practice of holding communities hostage to curry favors, and to extract hand-outs and tax incentives. As long as jobs and living wages are under siege by our do-nothing US Congress, we must focus on essentials.

Minnesotans must evaluate priorities, then try to distinguish wants from needs.

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