MPR News/Humphrey Institute poll: No public funds for Vikes stadium

The latest Minnesota Public Radio News/Humphrey Institute poll found strong opposition to using taxpayer money for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The poll also shows a majority of Minnesotans disapprove of the way lawmakers are handling their job.

Target Field, the new $545 million outdoor Twins stadium, seems to be a huge hit, and the Vikings were the talk of the National Football League when star quarterback Brett Favre signed on last year and nearly brought the team to the Super Bowl.

But according to the poll, a solid majority of Minnesotans has no interest in using taxpayer money to help the Vikings build a new stadium the way taxpayers helped the Twins.

Of the poll's 701 respondents, 64 percent said they opposed public funding for a Vikings stadium. Less than one-third, or 30 percent, support the idea.

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Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, oversaw the poll which has a 5.8 percentage point margin of error.

"There's not only the 64 percent majority opposed to using tax dollars for the Vikings stadium, but the intensity of that opposition is very robust and significant -- much more than the support for building a Vikings stadium and using tax dollars for that," Jacobs said.

The results mirror those of a survey in early January by the Minneapolis polling firm, Decision Resources. Before the new Twins ballpark was built, polls consistently showed majorities opposed to public financing for that stadium as well.

The poll found that women were even more strongly opposed to taxpayer funding for a Vikings stadium 72 percent -- compared to 55 percent of men who oppose the idea.

It was not hard to find people whose opinions are represented by the poll. When asked if she'd support using her taxes to build another stadium, Scarlet Gilligan, a dog groomer for a Petco in Richfield, said "absolutely no."

"They already blew how many million dollars building one for the Twins," Gilligan said. "I thought they shouldn't have done that."

Despite urging from the Vikings, state lawmakers did not address the stadium issue in their recently concluded session. The day after the session ended, the team said a stadium solution must be finalized in the 2011 session. The Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires in February 2012.

As for the overall performance of the Legislature, the poll shows most Minnesotans are not impressed -- and that support for state lawmakers is sagging.

More than half, or 52 percent, disapprove of the way the Legislature is handling its job. That's up eight points from January 2008.

Gene Stelman of Coon Rapids said the legislative process has become way too political.

"I think they should forget about partisanship and do what they have to do, think about what's best for the people," Stelman said. "Everybody's worried about their chances for re-election and all that stuff. They should just go with what they think is right, and why they were elected, and do that."

After a brief interview, Stelman apologized for sounding angry. But he said he's mad about the way things are going.

According to the poll, by a 35 percent to 27 percent margin Minnesotans think Republicans did a better job handling the state budget than Democrats.

But when the poll asked generically whether re spondents would vote for a Republican or Democratic candidate for the Legislature, the result was a statistical tossup.

"We find Minnesotans, on balance, giving the Republicans a bit of an edge in handling the state budget," Jacobs said. "The state Legislature's performance rating by Minnesotans has declined, and it follows then that the battle for control of the state Legislature has evened out."

Jacobs said that's a big change from the double-digit edge Minnesota Democrats had over Republicans just two years ago.