Press Release

Campaign manager Alex Falconer

Wagenius Firmly Opposes Public Subsidy for Vikings Stadium

Mayor Rybak’s policy director: There are faster, better ways for government to create jobs

November 11, 2011 (MINNEAPOLIS) – State Senate candidate Peter Wagenius, who currently serves as policy director for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, today announced his firm opposition to using tax dollars to build a Viking stadium.

“This primary election is going to be a referendum on using tax dollars for stadiums. My position is clear: I do not support using public dollars to build a Vikings stadium. Not taxes. Not gambling. Either way, I will vote no,” Wagenius said.

Wagenius, a progressive DFLer, is running in the special election in Senate District 59 to fill the seat vacated by Senator Larry Pogemiller. The primary election is on Tuesday, December 6.

Wagenius explained, “Under Republican control, the Legislature has made huge cuts to K-12 education, the University of Minnesota, health care, our environment and funding for police, fire and street repair. They’ve damaged our quality of life. It’s wrong for the Legislature to say they won’t raise revenue for these higher priorities, but they will raise our taxes for a stadium that the owners could pay for themselves. That’s just wrong,” he continued.

Wagenius supports faster, more effective ways for government to use public dollars to create jobs. “Instead of waiting months or years for a stadium deal that has already taken up far too much attention, government should create jobs now by investing in priorities that the public broadly supports, such as roads, bridges, transit and retrofitting public buildings for energy efficiency. These measures will get union workers off the bench immediately, help taxpayers save money and create much more effective long-term benefits for middle-class and working families.”

Wagenius concluded, “I respect that some in organized labor strongly support using public subsidies to build a Vikings stadium, and on almost all other issues of importance, we are in agreement. But I do not support using tax dollars for stadiums. There are much faster and better ways to create good, union jobs and put people back to work.”

Wagenius released part of the endorsement questionnaire that he submitted to the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council:

3. What would your administration do, and what should the state’s role be, with regard to:

  • Mall of America Phase II – I am campaigning to represent Minneapolis and Mall of America Phase II is direct competition with Downtown Minneapolis, the economic engine of this region.
  • Vikings Stadium – I don’t support the Vikings stadium proposals. They rely on local City taxes to support a statewide amenity. More importantly, as I described in my first answer, it is critically important that we make a successful case to the public that government can responsibly use tax dollars well to put people to work and revive the economy. The Viking stadium proposals do not say that to the public. To build a stadium with public dollars while failing to protect existing jobs or build roads and transit would tell the public that Government has the wrong priorities. It would confirm public cynicism that the system is rigged against the middle class and their priorities. It would confirm the public’s worst fears that Democrats are no better than Republicans when it comes to giving tax dollars and special favors to the wealthy including powerful team owners. This is the great challenge of our time – to make rebuilding the middle class the focus of government again. To do that, the public must know that their priorities are the Democrats priorities. The stadium proposals run directly counter to this essential mission.

    I believe the focus of our common efforts should be what I described in my first answer: We must spend the next year (and the 2012 campaign) making the case for government action to create jobs. This can be done by advocating for things the public already supports: roads, bridges, transit, retrofitting public buildings – schools, parks, libraries, court buildings, and government offices – to save money in the long term and generate economic growth immediately.