More disappointing news about electronic pulltabs in February seems to make it more likely yet that the state will have to rely on backup financing options baked into last year's stadium bill.
The first of those backups to blink on will be a lottery game. Minnesota State Lottery officials said a previous Vikings scratch-off game, which ran during the team's 2010 season and wrapped up in 2011, sold about $12 million in tickets, but netted between $1.5 and $1.6 million for the state's general fund, after prizes were paid out
It also paid a licensing fee to the Vikings. Lottery officials estimate the team got about $429,000 for the game you see at right.
Team vice president Lester Bagley, after today's Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority meeting, said that he didn't know if the team would get a cut of a second lottery series if it had a Vikings theme. (The law calls for a "sports-themed" game.) "I'm not sure if that's the same scenario we're talking about here," Bagley said.
Interestingly, the Minnesota State Lottery says it may not be a scratch-off game. Marketing and sales director John Mellein says the law is broad and could authorize a Powerball-like game, a bar-based game, Keno or any number of other formats. "If the Legislature came to us and said 'We need to raise X amount of money,' we'd give them some options," Mellein says.
There's also a question about the second backup in the bill: a tax on luxury suites. The new stadium is supposed to have about 150 of them But it'll be years before there's any suites to tax. What, then about the existing 90 suites at the Metrodome? Are they subject to backup funding?
It doesn't look like it, but not everybody is so sure.
John Pollard, spokesman for Minnesota Management and Budget, the state's finance experts, was the surest, when asked if Metrodome ticket holders might be charged to "pay it forward" as it were.
"We do not believe we could because the Metrodome is not named in the Vikings Stadium bill," Pollard said in response to an email inquiry about the matter.
Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Heglen, who worked on the bill, left the door ajar. "The suite tax was always talked about in light of the new stadium, so we'd have to have our attorneys take a look at the legislation," she said. "We haven't really thought about it in that regard, so I'm not sure where it would come down. But from our perspective, it was always looked at as something that would be done for the new stadium."
Lester Bagley was a little firmer when asked if the backup tax would apply at Mall of America Field. "We don't think it does," Bagley said. "But we probably need to take a closer look at it. We think its focused on the new stadium, so you can't blink it on without a new stadium, but it probably needs a closer look."