A funny thing has happened on the way to the Vikings trying to lock down a stadium that will keep them in Minnesota for the next 30-plus years. The residents of Minnesota consider the Vikings to be important to the state and they have no problem with proceeds from gambling being used to pay for it.
The Star-Tribune released results of a poll of 807 Minnesota residents – calling 526 land-line phones and 281 cell phones to get respondents Nov. 2-3 with the results being sampled.
The requirement of asking one's political ideology (Democrat, Republican and Independent were offered) was part of the methodology, but didn't eliminate respondents in the same way election polling is done, where someone who isn't a registered voter isn't included in the sampling.
The seven-question survey took about three minutes to complete and attempted to narrow down the consensus of public opinion on the carefully crafted questions.
If you weren't among those called, here are the questions that were asked of the respondents:
Question One: Would you favor or oppose using public money for a new Vikings football stadium? In October 2010, those willing to say they favored public funding was 21 percent. In May, that number went to 22 percent. In last week's poll, 37 percent favored public funding – a significant spike. Perhaps even more telling was the number that claimed they opposed it, dropping from 75 percent to 74 percent to 56 percent in the most recent poll. It would seem clear on that question, the opposition is crumbling as the reality of the Vikings leaving if the Legislature continues to sit on its hands and do nothing draws closer.
With men that were polled, 47 percent said they were opposed to public funding; 64 percent of women opposed (and barely more than one in four was in favor at 27 percent). The numbers were consistent by political affiliation – Republicans, Democrats and Independents were consistently opposed to public funding, but again those opposed in the sampling had dropped from the 60-70 percent range to 54-56 percent.
Economics was a factor. The level of family income and education had a direct relation to their willingness to support public stadium funding – those with an annual income of $75,000 or more had just 43 percent that opposed public funding. In addition, the older you were, the more likely you were to oppose public funding. In both instances, neither of these could be viewed as surprising.
What should be noted was that the question was phrased in such a way as to make it seem as though the sole purpose of the stadium is strictly for the Vikings. When U2 or Bon Jovi packs 50,000 fans into the stadium, the $9 beers and $5 hot dogs will be generating tax money for the state. It set the tone for the other six questions that followed.
Question 2: How important is it to you that the Vikings stay in Minnesota? Four options existed – very, somewhat, not to and not at all. To just one in five people, the Vikings were not at all important. To two of every three respondents, the Vikings were important. When you consider what people view as important, a football team wouldn't seem to get that sort of strong belief. That feeling is typically reserved for polls on quality education and police protection. One can only wonder what the result of those polls would be if the Timberwolves or the Twins of five years ago were held to that same standard?
The team is more important to the young than the old (perhaps the lockout had more of an impact on those who watched football at a time when players had offseason jobs), but the aspect of the response most interesting was that those who viewed the Vikings as important was at its height for those who are the poorest of the sampling and those who are the richest. It speaks to the importance of the Vikings and that it doesn't know economic boundaries.
Question 3: If a new Viking stadium is built, do you think it should be in Minneapolis or Arden Hills? As it currently stands, there isn't a viable Minneapolis site from the Vikings' perspective and the vast majority of discussion with politicians has been centered on the Arden Hills site. Given the positioning of Minneapolis' three mystery projects and the Arden Hills/Ramsey County agreement with the team, 45 percent of people preferred Minneapolis – perhaps because, for some inexplicable reason, it was listed first.
Men preferred the Arden Hills site (43-39), while women preferred Minneapolis (50-32). While the Democrat/Republican numbers favored Minneapolis by a significant combined margin of 45-36, independents preferred Arden Hills 42-40. Ironically, the older you got, the less you wanted Minneapolis – numerous bars (not light rail) was the likely contributing factor the influenced that dip in downtown popularity. Perhaps the most troubling number came from respondents outside the seven-county metro area. 23 percent of them didn't care if the stadium was in Minneapolis or Arden Hills and were effectively split on which they preferred.
Question 4: If the stadium is built in Minneapolis, do you think it should be located…?"To some, this could been worded, "If I had a date with Jessica Alba, I would take her to…?" As it currently stands, there is no Minneapolis proposal, which kind of brings into question the purpose of the poll. The Wilfs have summarily rejected the "pay us one dollar" proposal because the Metrodome isn't a suitable playing site, much less addressing where they would play when putting a nice silk hat on that existing pig. However, only 31 percent approved keeping the Metrodome. 13 percent said by Target Field and 2 percent jumped on the Basilica of St. Mary bandwagon. These numbers can be fudged however an analyst wants to view them. I look at this way – two of three Minnesotans care. One of three prefers they stay at the Metrodome. Even dome-centric types have to be shaking their heads at that pitiful result. Of the options given, less than half gave an opinion on a preferred site, which may speak to the ambiguity of the Arden Hills opposition.
Question No. 5: If there is going to be public funding for a new Vikings stadium, do you think the city or county where it would located should be responsible for a share of the public costs, or do you think most of the public funding should come from statewide revenues?This could be reverse questioning – a long question in which those confused or wondering when the call will end remember the last option better. As a result, 47 percent logically agreed statewide funding should take place, while 40 percent said a city or county should pay its share.
Question No. 6: I'm going to read you a list of public funding options being considered to help pay for a new Vikings stadium. If a stadium is to be built, please tell me whether you support or oppose each of the following: While Alex Trebek could argue it wasn't in the form of a question, support for all five options were strong – ranging in descending order from scratch-off lottery tickets (81 percent), a racino (72 percent), electronic pull tabs (70 percent), a casino on Block E in Minneapolis (60 percent) and a 2-cent sales tax on alcoholic drinks (53 percent). While the casino and drink options weren't overwhelmingly favorable, the scratcher/gambling options all seemed cool with the respondents. Let the gamblers pay.
Question No. 7: Do you think a portion of the state's Legacy funds, which are constitutionally dedicated to the outdoors, environment, arts and cultural heritage, should be used to help fund a new Vikings stadium, or not? This is what is called a loaded question. By its framing, it is made clear that Legacy funds are for the outdoors, the environment (there will be clean-up needed in Arden Hills, because the military had lax rules about burying its waste), the arts or cultural heritage. But, when framed in such a way as to imply that the inference is that the stadium doesn't fit in that category, it was more interesting that more than the 77 percent that said "no" wasn't higher.
If the poll taught us anything it is that, at its core, Minnesotans identify with the Vikings, view them as a valued resource and are open to finding a solution to keep them in Minnesota. Where that should be was muddied by the wording of the questions, but it is clear the Minnesotans don't want to see the Los Angeles Vikings any time soon, regardless of how the questions are worded.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Poll finds increasing stadium support
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