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A day after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders “broke off talks on how to fund a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, lawmakers involved in drafting an earlier bill said Thursday their efforts remain on track,” according to a front-page piece by Doug Belden of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. State Rep. Morrie Lanning, who is “leading stadium efforts in the House,” and state Sen. Julie Rosen “held a news conference with Dayton and other lawmakers who had met in the morning in search of a bipartisan deal.” It is not clear when a bill might emerge, but Rosen said that lawmakers “could introduce more than one bill tied to different sites.” Lanning said that “any solution will almost certainly rely on gambling revenue as a funding source.” He said that the “three options being evaluated” are allowing slot machines to be installed at horse tracks, authorizing charitable groups to offer an electronic version of pull-tabs or allowing a casino at Block E in downtown Minneapolis. Lawmakers Thursday said that after a stadium bill is drafted, the “plan is to hold hearings to get input from the public.” Belden notes it is “not clear what this means about the likelihood of dealing with the stadium issue in a special session before the 2012 regular session, which begins Jan. 24.” Meanwhile, the NFL “continues to express urgency on behalf of the Vikings.” NFL Exec VP/Business Operations Eric Grubman Thursday said, “There are a lot of good people working very hard on this. We still believe that absent of a viable plan a stalemate will occur that will be difficult to contend with” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/4). Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers said that “if the new stadium were to last as long as the Metrodome, ‘it's a 30-year project.’” Zellers: “We should do it right and we should take our time to do it right. Without question we should have public input. And I don't know that we could get a plan, have that introduced and have the public input in the time that we had" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/4).
BUSY IN THE HILLS: In St. Paul, Frederick Melo notes Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett and others determined to bring the Vikings to Arden Hills “remain busy behind the scenes lobbying lawmakers and leading daily tours in hopes of keeping the project alive.” They said that the idea of a $1.1B stadium development going up on the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site “will not be derailed after state leaders this week said local sales taxes are an unlikely funding option.” The Arden Hills site proposal “relied heavily on such a tax” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/4). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman writes with all the “talk about referendums, why not have the citizens of the state vote on whether to expand state-owned gambling to include racinos?” Hartman: “It is a cinch to pass, and you would not only raise enough money for the stadium, but there would be money left over to improve funds for schools, roads, etc” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/4).
The pending sale of the Dodgers -- and “more importantly, the property where Dodger Stadium sits -- could have an interesting impact on bringing the NFL back” to L.A., according to Jason Cole of YAHOO SPORTS. An NFL source Thursday said, “That location is potentially a game-changer if something doesn’t get done with [Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski or AEG] in the next couple of months.” In the “opinion of plenty NFL people, both at the league and individual team levels, Dodger Stadium is the perfect location for an NFL stadium.” While there are “traffic and neighborhood issues in and outside of the location, they are mild compared to what’s going to happen downtown.” While the space is “not as ample as the 600 acres at the City of Industry, it’s more than enough to suit the NFL’s purposes.” When combined with the “closer proximity to downtown L.A. (City of Industry of 20 miles east of downtown), Dodger Stadium is an ideal fit.” A source said, “I think it would take longer to get something done at Dodger Stadium, but the NFL has already proved that it’s in no hurry to come back. If the NFL decides Dodger Stadium is the best place and they can make it work there, they’ll tell their team to wait it out.” But the source added, “From a practical standpoint, I don’t think Dodger Stadium is that close to being realistic. Really, I think that [MLB Commissioner] Bud Selig is going to want the new owner, whoever it is, to focus the first three to five years on fixing the Dodgers, both the team on the field and making the stadium family-friendly and safe. I don’t think it’s going to go over from a PR standpoint if a new owner comes in and starts immediately talking about the NFL” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/3).
TD Garden officials "have agreed to shrink the massive Bud Light sign on the north side of the arena within three years to comply with federal and state restrictions on highway billboards," according to Todd Wallack of the BOSTON GLOBE. After negotiations with Massachusetts highway officials, TD Garden execs "pledged to replace the sign with a more modest display of no more than 1,200 square feet, less than a quarter of its current size." They "initially argued that the sign, visible to thousands of commuters on Interstate 93, should be considered a landmark, akin to the Citgo sign" near Fenway Park. TD Garden Dir of PR Tricia McCorkle said, "We still believe our billboard complies with all the regulations, but we all agreed this was the best outcome to avoid litigation." TD Garden reps "pointed out they had a legal permit for the sign from the city, as well as a multi-year advertising contract with Anheuser-Busch." State officials said that the "current incarnation of the billboard, congratulating the Bruins on their Stanley Cup victory in June, would comply with federal and state rules, since only a small portion focuses on Bud Light." But TD Garden "opted to shrink the sign instead to obtain a state permit, giving it more flexibility on what ads to use in the future" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/4).