Lawmakers review Vikings stadium funding options as e-pulltab revenues flag


Like a coach mulling whether to put in a backup quarterback, Minnesota lawmakers are considering alternative plans to generate revenue to help pay for the state's share of a new $1 billion Vikings stadium.

Lawmakers at a House Commerce committee meeting Wednesday night talked over the bleak news that electronic pulltab machines are not raising as much money as expected, MPR reported. The iPad devices loaded with gaming software began to filter into bars and restaurants across the state last fall.

Tax revenue on the devices was supposed to largely cover the state's $350 million share of the cost of the stadium, which is to be constructed on the site of the Metrodome, with groundbreaking to begin in October.

But so far only about 120 sites around the state are offering the games, and it was originally projected the devices would be in 2,500 sites by July 1, officials said. They are skeptical that goal can be met.

The machines generated only about $4 million in gross sales in their first three months of operation, falling short of being on track to raise an estimated $17 million by July, the Star Tribune reported.

So now what? Rep. Jennifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, suggested reviving the idea of an additional tax on Vikings game tickets, MPR reported. Lawmakers are also mulling changes that might boost the pulltab game revenue, like offering the devices in other types of establishments and speeding approval of new game providers, the Star Tribune reported.

Other backups are built into the stadium funding plan, including a tax on suites and a sports-themed lottery game, although neither of those is expected to generate big money, MPR said.

One state gaming official said some bars and restaurant owners were waiting to see if the devices were worth the investment. KARE 11 reported on one happy client: "I'm really happy on how our numbers on electronics are doing," Dan O'Gara, owner of O'Gara's on Snelling in St. Paul, told KARE.

Rep. Joe Atkins said the e-pulltabs were the "Christian Ponder of state government," the Star Tribune reported. "There were high expectations going in. But people are a little leery now."

Next Up

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins saves the day again to get Vikings to .500

Cousins' overtime toss to K.J. Osborn earned a 34-28 victory.

Nurses on strike

Nurses start 3-day strike at Allina WestHealth in Plymouth

A "last attempt" at negotiations failed to produce an agreement last Wednesday.

boating minnesota lake

Minnesota has experienced its deadliest boating season since 2005

Minnesota has seen 17 boating-related deaths so far this year.

Drew Doughty

Kirill Kaprizov makes Kings’ Doughty eat his words

The Kings defenseman isn't a fan of the Wild star's new deal.

Quinn Olson / UMD Hockey

Watch: UMD's Olson goes between-the-legs to set up highlight goal

Another Saturday. Another highlight for a Minnesota college hockey team.

Gopher Hockey

Watch: No-call lifts Gophers to OT victory over St. Cloud State

A blatant hook marred a top-four battle in St. Cloud.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Driver killed after crashing into parked semi-trailer

The crash occurred on the 5800 block of University Avenue Northeast.

Mike Zimmer

Vikings-Panthers: 5 things you can count on happening

The Vikings will look to open things up in Carolina.