Senator Roger Reinert took the opportunity to write in to the Duluth News Tribune on Friday February 17. He was responding to say thanks for the support for his efforts to bring the Vikings to Duluth. He was also defending his decision to those who criticized him. I definitely was criticizing him, but let’s break it down his letter.
“Let’s face it people like talking about the Vikings and the prospect of a new stadium,” Reinert said. This really isn’t new news in the state of Minnesota. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say the Vikings are the most popular professional team in Minnesota. People want to talk about the Vikings now because their lease is expired, Vikings officials say they will not sign a new lease until a stadium deal is reached, and the Vikings were under deadlines by the NFL to announce their plans. Why is this talk so popular now? Because citizens don’t want the Vikings to move and former Governor Tim Pawlenty wouldn’t do or commit to any Vikings stadium plans in session because of his “run” for President. Who wants to be known for raising taxes for a stadium and then try to be the President? Pawlenty wanted himself to look good and was able to pass the buck to Governor Dayton and let him worry about it. I bet Pawlenty is kicking himself now for dropping out of the race, but that is not our topic of discussion.
Senator Reinert goes on to mention how he “promoted” the Duluth U.S. Steel/Atlas Cement site that can and should be developed. Senator, are you trying to tell me that developers from Minneapolis or where ever, are looking to develop in Duluth and have no idea about the site? If your purpose is to have someone develop on this site why did it take a new stadium for this idea to come out? Yes Senator you got yourself on the news but was it good publicity? Was this publicity used to make Duluth look like more of a hick town? From the people I have talked to in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Area I would say they think we are a hick town.
Once again he cites his proposal to open liquor stores on Sunday. Sorry Senator I did not see the lines in Superior on Super Bowl Sunday? Did you? Did anyone? Does anyone really care? Yes 30 million more dollars would be nice for the state but that single act will not get us out of debt. What else can you suggest to create some revenue?
Finally, Senator Reinert credits himself for asking the question because you never know until you ask and it didn’t cost him anything to ask. Didn’t he mention he worked on the proposal for 36 hours? Senator are you telling us you were not paid for the 36 hours you spent drafting this proposal? Didn’t you accept your pay checks during the government shutdown? Wasn’t it also mentioned no other official signed this proposal? Senator I think you should have got other officials in support of your proposal. Why did you wait so long for this proposal to come forward? I would love for the Vikings to come to Duluth, but then let’s be in the discussions from the beginning and not in the final and I do mean final stages.
People may be asking don’t be so critical if you can’t think of your own ideas. What would it have taken for the Vikings to come to Duluth? I don’t think it would have been impossible but what would the plan be? I’m not a great political mind but just to say Duluth to say Duluth isn’t a good plan from an elected official. I don’t disagree the Morgan Park site could be developed, but every big development project comes down to how it is going to be paid for. As an elected official it is your responsibility to figure out those ways to create revenue and reduce debt. Second way possible for the Vikings to come to Duluth could be if they were a community-owned franchise. The Vikings have been privately owned for quite some time, and Wilf family would like that option. I’m sure they like the profits and wouldn’t want the Vikings to become the second non-profit NFL football team.
Senator Reinert made it clear he is not in favor of using money from the state’s general fund, so how would the Duluth community support a stadium. The Vikings organization has made it perfectly clear they are not paying for the whole stadium and I do find it odd the taxpayers are paying for a privately owned business, but that is neither here nor there. But if residents of Ramsey and Hennepin County are complaining and opposed to increased taxes for the stadium, would the residents of St. Louis county want to shell out the money? I don’t know if there is really an answer to this question because we were never asked. But what I do know, like I previously wrote, the citizens of Duluth were strongly opposed to tax increases for new schools, so it does seem logical they would oppose tax increases for a Viking Stadium.
Senator let’s not give yourself credit for being a “cheerleader for Duluth at the Capitol” until there are some results to show for your “hard work.”
(If you would like check out the Facebook page for the Vikings Stadium in Duluth)