SBD/April 11, 2011/Facilities

Minnesota Finally Hearing Vikings Stadium Bill, But Is There Enough Time?

The stadium plan for the Vikings that emerged Friday "put the team in a spot any football fan could identify with -- needing a touchdown with time running out and still a long way from the end zone," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. With six weeks "left in this year's legislative session, the proposal's formal introduction was praised" by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, and legislators on both sides said that there is "still enough time to approve a stadium funding plan." But the bill, set to be formally introduced today, "still has plenty of blank spots in it." Kaszuba noted "no site has been picked and the bill would allow nearly a year to make such a selection." Dayton on Friday "appeared open to passing legislation by mid-May that would advance a new stadium without completing a deal." He said, "I'm agreeable to that, as long as they pass something that can enable this project to move forward." Friday's bill "closely followed an outline that the plan's two GOP authors released a week ago." Under that plan, the state "would commit to as much as $300 million, largely through a series of so-called user fees that would include a pro-sports memorabilia tax, a Vikings lottery game, a sales tax on direct satellite services, plus a property tax exemption on the stadium." Three other state contributions "would come from a player income tax surcharge, a state tax on luxury boxes and the sale of the stadium's naming rights -- all moves that may draw opposition" from the team and the NFL (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/9).

FOURTH & LONG? Despite the "shrinking amount of time available" in this legislative session, state Sen. Julie Rosen said that she "didn't think legislative committees would take up the bill in the next few weeks." She acknowledged that the bill "leaves many unanswered questions, chief among them what Twin Cities city or county will partner up to host the stadium and tap local taxpayers for another portion of the cost." Rosen said that the "creation of the Stadium Authority -- which would replace the current Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission -- and the 2012 location deadline will give the Vikings more time to recruit the right local partner" (AP, 4/8). In Boston, Greg Bedard noted the Vikings "finally had their bill to build a new taxpayer-financed stadium submitted in the Minnesota legislature" on the same day the Twins "were hosting their home opener" in the publicly financed Target Field (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/10).
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