Vikings Stadium Plans In Limbo With Special Session On Funding Dead
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to deal with the Vikings stadium in a special session before Thanksgiving "appeared dead Wednesday after he and legislative leaders met for about an hour but couldn't agree on a way forward," according to a front-page piece by Doug Belden of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Dayton said the talks are now in "limbo." He "canceled a Friday meeting with the Vikings as well as the release of his own stadium plan, which he had set for Monday." Dayton said that "no further talks are scheduled with legislative leaders." Minnesota state Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said that they are "proposing a series of hearings to get citizen input on various aspects of stadium proposals, but they didn't provide details or a schedule." The Vikings called the developments "very disappointing." Dayton "had hoped to convene a special session Nov. 21-23 or perhaps a bit later if lawmakers needed more time." But Zellers said, "We can't have a vote or special session without having a plan." Dayton said that "not wanting a special session because there is no plan is 'a chicken-and-egg kind of thing.'" Belden reports as word spread yesterday that Zellers "opposed a special session," Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley "warned that delaying the issue until next year's regular session, which begins in late January, would increase the project's already hefty cost." Bagley "stopped short of saying the team would pull up stakes but noted that after this season the Vikings 'will be the only team without a lease.'" Dayton Tuesday announced that he and legislative leaders "determined there was not enough support in the Legislature to exempt either Ramsey County or Minneapolis from the requirement to hold a referendum on proposed sales tax increases to fund a stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/3).
MOVING A REAL THREAT? In Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Stassen-Berger in a front-page piece note yesterday's events "signaled that Republican lawmakers, despite mounting political pressure from the Vikings, are not convinced that the February expiration of the team's lease at the Metrodome is sufficient reason to rush into special session." Dayton said, "Nobody's ever told me explicitly that they opposed the special session. They walked away from it" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/3). Meanwhile, the AP noted there has been "little outward recruiting of the Vikings by Los Angeles or other cities seeking an NFL presence, though Dayton has said he takes the prospect seriously that failure to act could mean losing the team" (AP, 11/2).