SBD/November 4, 2011/Facilities

Minnesota Lawmakers Evaluating Three Possible Funding Options For Vikings Stadium

Any stadium funding solution will almost certainly rely on gambling revenue
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).
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