Vikings Stadium Plan Clears House, But Team Calls Increased Share "Not Workable"
The Minnesota House yesterday "passed a public subsidy package" for a new Vikings stadium, "sending the project marching toward final passage at the State Capitol," according to a front-page piece by Kaszuba & Helgeson of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. In one "pivotal change however the House voted overwhelmingly to boost the Vikings' contribution" to the nearly $1B stadium, upping the team's share from $427M to $532M. The change, which would lower the state's share to $293M, "may not survive further legislative negotiating this week and was opposed by the Vikings." Team VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, "That particular amendment is not workable. (But) I don't want to take away from the moment." However, Bagley "did not say the team would reject the overall proposal should the provision remain." The final vote came after a day of "high drama and a weekend of intense lobbying" by Gov. Mark Dayton and the Vikings, and produced a "relatively easy" 73-to-58 approval in the House. Though Republicans hold a majority in the House, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party members "did the heavy political lifting" on the final vote, producing 40 of the 73 votes. The victory "was also noteworthy because House Speaker Kurt Zellers -- the leading Republican in the House -- voted against the project." The stadium project now goes before the Senate, possibly today, and "could be ready for Dayton to sign into law by the end of the week." The eight-hour House debate "did leave many pleading for legislators to set aside the stadium at a time of a stressed state budget." Another proposal to "fund the stadium's construction with user fees -- an idea that also seemed to be gaining momentum in recent days -- fell to defeat" yesterday. The proposal to "replace charitable gambling with taxes and fees on Vikings tickets, concessions and parking was soundly defeated by a 74-to-57 margin" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/8).
STILL WAITING: Dayton called the House vote a "huge step forward" and said there were "more positive votes than almost anyone expected." In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes the House bill "differs significantly from the one in the Senate, and the differences would need to be resolved in conference committee, after which there would be another round of votes in the House and Senate before the bill goes to the governor" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/8). In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins writes "whatever the outcome" for the bill in the Senate, "the hope here is for resolution." Scoggins: "Yes or no, we need to move on. Everyone involved." Both sides "have battled long and hard, more than 10 years, a campaign that began when Red McCombs owned the team." Scoggins asks, "Would anyone honestly have the appetite for another round of this?" The debate "must have a finish line at some point." Scoggins adds his advice to Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf and his family "is to put the team up for sale and move on if they suffer a defeat this week." Scoggins: "If a stadium doesn't gain approval now, when will it? They've never been this close, but stadium fatigue will only intensify" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/8).