The National Football League sent six of its lieutenants to Minneapolis the other day to advertise what essentially is a take-it-or-leave-it offer. Either you people give us the tax breaks we want so that we might not be fettered by the reasonable expectations of doing business or you don't get a Super Bowl. Capiche?
“It's an incredibly competitive environment,” said Frank Supovitz, NFL senior vice president of events.
If Supovitz wasn't wearing a tie, he would have said, “Look, we've got other cities that will do what we want, so you either play by our rules or you can stuff your traps with cheese dip and watch the game on television with the rest of the country.”
The 2018 Super Bowl is what is in play. Indianapolis and New Orleans are also in the running. Minnesota is in the running because the league intimated that if a stadium got built, Minnesota's chances to host a Super Bowl would shoot to the top of the list. They didn't let on that in order to host a Super Bowl, a host city would have to waive sales taxes on tickets and anything else the league might want, including the mints placed on their hotel pillows, which, the bid would have to show, shall be fluffed just so.
This is either an outrage or unmitigated gall, if there is a distinction. The league now denies that there was ever any quid pro quo involved. No, what they said the other day was that a new stadium certainly wouldn't hurt Minnesota's chances in a terribly competitive bidding process. There's that euphemism for “extortion” again, “competitive.”
Worse, the league's demands place the Legislature in the position of representing a multibillion-dollar industry instead of the citizens of this state who are already on the hook for about half a billion dollars to build a new stadium in the first place. Let's see how our progressives stand up to this. Other than Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, he of Twittering fame, introducing a bill to block Super Bowl tax breaks, not a soul has risen to stand these guys down.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, the stadium authority chairwoman, appears to already be dutifully sliding into the NFL camp, pointing out that Indianapolis and New Orleans hosted Super Bowls in 2012 and 2013, respectively, after including tax breaks in their bids. No. They surrendered, bowed down, folded up like cheap tents.
“What is the tax revenue we're going to leave on the table if we don't win this bid?” Kelm-Helgen asked.
She then said that Indianapolis reported a $40 million net gain in tax revenue from hosting the game. If ever there was a number pulled out of a hat, that was it. So the woman who might be trusted to have stood up to these smooth-talking thugs is already trumpeting exactly what the league wants her to trumpet — Hey, everybody, we still stand to make some money even after we give the league the tax breaks it wants.
By the way, St. Paul citizens should be particularly alert to this scam. St. Paul would get nothing out of a Super Bowl, just as St. Paul got nothing out of “hosting” the 2008 Republican National Convention. The event was held at the Xcel Energy Center, but the buses took all the participants back to Minneapolis every night, leaving St. Paul bars and restaurants not only empty, but actually barricaded in some case — see Pat Mancini — so that people could not even reach them if they wanted to.
Also remember that when Minnesota hosted the Super Bowl in 1992, a number was thrown around, something on the order of each household in the metro stood to gain about a net $280 from the riches that would be generated. You ever get your check?
St. Paul did win a point in 1992. We had a beautiful Winter Carnival ice palace that year on Harriet Island. It was stealing so much attention from the game in Minneapolis that the Super Bowl Task Force tried to book private viewings of the carnival attraction for the NFL executives who would have been delivered in limousines. No, that didn't happen.
But that was 22 years ago. The NFL has perfected its thuggery. Either no ice palace in 2018 or the carnival has to move to Minneapolis.