The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 11, 2013

Stadium funding sinks into the abyss

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Schadenfreude is a German term for taking pleasure in the misfortune of others.

This generally is a negative trait in a person, except when it isn't.

Gov. Mark Dayton and friends' comic gimmickry designed to pony up the state's share of funding for a new Vikings stadium is one of those instances when the snarkiness of schadenfreude is richly warranted.

To review: The state's funding share for the $1 billion stadium is $348 million, a figure we were told could be comfortably raised through the implementation of electronic pulltab gambling in Minnesota bars.

But it is now clear to even those dwelling deep beneath rocks that this gambit has been a failure more monumental than even schadenfreude lovers could have hoped for.

Dayton, to his discredit, is still mouthing the same shtick about how he remains convinced that e-tab revenues will pick up. But that's like a battered wife saying she remains convinced her husband's beatings will lessen. Even if they do, she's still getting beaten.

In recent weeks the brain trust that sold us on e-tabs began implementing their kissing cousin — electronic bingo — to bolster the revenue shortfalls.

The "thinking" here was that electronic versions of that grand old game would kickstart new interest in e-gaming from new, younger demographic groups that would embrace bingo via those really cool iPad delivery systems.

And here's where the schadenfreude was kicked up a notch.

It seems that in the Twin Cities metro area these days, those 20-something bargoers coveted by the state's stadium pimps are indeed trending for bingo in a big way.

But — and you really can't make this up — those hip young things are playing bingo the old-fashioned way, with the paper cards and colored-ink daubers that have been favored by 80-year-old chain-smoking grandmas in church basements since time immemorial.

It seems that where bingo is concerned, it's now hip to be square. With this crowd, e-bingo is just a six-letter word.

Oops. What say you now, Dayton and friends?

Apparently this: On Wednesday, Dayton and his Ponzi posse announced that they've come up with yet another robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul funding mechanism to cure those nagging revenue shortfalls.

Although no specifics were revealed, it apparently involves closing some tax loopholes.

This, of course, can only mean that some people are going to get screwed, or will perceive that they are, which is the same thing when you're dealing with that mine field we delicately refer to as "tax reform."

As that old saying goes, Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax the guy behind that tree.

Stay tuned. This state stadium-funding fiasco is shaping up to be schadenfreude's gold standard.

Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email