I just read the article about the Sanford Complex proposal in today’s pioneer. It described non-profits pushing for a vast investment from public governments for hockey-specific buildings that will magically bring in a lot of money. This sounds suspiciously like 2007. Except, instead of the WCHA and Bemidji State University, we have Sanford Health and Greater Bemidji pushing for a costly hockey boondoggle.
Also similar is the knowledge that this complex won’t come close to covering its own bills. To ensure that it can operate and advertise throughout the region (with the Amateur Sports commission, another seemingly private, non-government entity), they want visitors and citizens to pay a 2% a city-wide hospitality tax. This would allow them to burn through $750,000 a year keeping the complex open. Of course, there’d be extra left over from that tax, and it’s so kind of these two non-profit entities to allow Bemidji to keep $500,000 of its own taxes to put toward the other unprofitable ice rink in town.
I’m against the idea of private firms asking for taxes to cover buildings and to run a business in perpetuity. I’m also not a fan of a hospitality tax. So perhaps, in order to find a middle way that displeases everyone, we have a hospitality tax that raises $500,000 (a tax of .8% vs. 2%) and we let the non-profits find other methods to fund poor business ideas. After all, we do still need to cover the costs from the last time we let hockey interests dictate public policy.