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Guest Editorial - Dayton overreacts to Vikings

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Attention, Gov. Mark Dayton, what specifically is the problem?

Attention, Zygi Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings, what specifically are the details?

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Before any more angry missives turn either side even more purple, both sides should answer some questions for the public about selling "seat licenses" or "stadium builder licenses" to pay for the $975 million Vikings stadium set to open in 2016.

These licenses are a common financing mechanism for many pro sports teams.

Basically, they are a one-time charge that season-ticket holders pay to "own" their seats at home games.

Dayton blitzed the Vikings Tuesday with a torrid letter about how now "word comes that the team is considering requiring season ticket holders to pay part of the (team's) construction costs."

He vehemently opposed this idea, citing unfairness to non-rich Minnesotans and how the plan shields revenue from taxes.

He even threatened to throw whatever political punches necessary to stop it, including scuttling the entire stadium deal.

But there is one huge problem.

The stadium deal Dayton signed in the spring grants the Vikings the right to do just this.

In fact, selling seat licenses was thoroughly covered in legislative testimony.

And there begins the public's confusion -- both about Dayton's concerns and the Vikings' lack of details.

Several media reports indicate the spark for Dayton's written rage was a recent survey the Vikings did of season-ticket holders about how much these licenses might cost.

The Vikings won't release details of the survey, but news reports indicate the best seats might have the most expensive seat licenses without regard to current ticket holders.

Such an approach would fall in line with Dayton's angry statement that "this new stadium would be a 'People's Stadium,' not a 'Rich People's Stadium.'"

Of course, not in line with that theme is the DFL governor's silence about forced buys of preseason games, $8 beers, private reselling of tickets at higher prices, and how parking rates for Vikings games follow this exact same pattern.

Also not making sense is Dayton's point that the Vikings shouldn't pass along their share of stadium costs to consumers. Good point. State government never does that to local government.

Consistent principles aside, at the least, Dayton's angry letter seems premature.

The state gave the Vikings the power to sell these licenses. Let the team make its pitch and consumers can react as they desire.

That's the free market legally created by this legislation. -- St. Cloud Times

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