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Minnesota Poll: Gambling top choice for stadium money

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A new Minnesota Poll published Sunday finds Minnesotans prefer using new forms of gambling revenue instead of higher taxes if a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings is to be built.

The poll published by the Star Tribune finds widespread support for everything from a state lottery scratch-off game to slots at horse-racing tracks and electronic pull tabs.

In order of popularity, 81 percent of respondents supported a Minnesota Lottery Vikings scratch-off game to help pay for the stadium, followed by 72 percent who liked the idea of video gambling at horse tracks.

Electronic pull tabs in bars and restaurants were favored by 70 percent, while 60 percent said they could support a casino in downtown Minneapolis.

A statewide 2-cent-per-drink tax on alcohol, proposed by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, was favored more narrowly with 53 percent in support of it and 46 percent against.

A clear finding is that Minnesotans don't want the team to leave. About two-thirds of Minnesotans say that keeping the team in the state is important.

The poll of 807 adults statewide was conducted Nov. 2-3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

However, 56 percent of those polled opposed using public money while 37 percent favored it. Last May, the Minnesota Poll showed 74 percent opposed to public subsidies and 22 percent in favor.

"It's encouraging to see growing public support for keeping the Vikings in Minnesota, and the support for the funding options is encouraging," Gov. Mark Dayton told the newspaper in response to the findings.

The Vikings choice for a new stadium site at a former Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills was slightly less popular to Minnesotans than one of three sites in Minneapolis, the poll found.

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who has worked with the Vikings to promote the Arden Hills location, said "most people haven't seen the site," and claimed it is favored by season ticket-holders.

Dayton said he doesn't think Minnesotans or legislators have enough information to make a site decision.

The stadium issue continues to provoke strong feelings among Minnesotans.

James Richert of Mora said the team is a resource "for everybody to enjoy. ... They've been part of our state for a very long time." He said using some tax or gambling revenues would be appropriate and that he prefers Arden Hills to downtown Minneapolis.

"It's easier to get to," he said. "Downtown is just so cluttered, you go to a game, there's no place to park."

Jill Crosby of Shakopee said she was once a Vikings fan, but that the team now seems less connected to the community.

"The millionaires that play the games, and the uber-millionaires that make money on concession and television rights and advertising ... they should be able to pay their own way," she said.