Stadium Backers Say Deal To Be Announced Thursday

Minnesota Vikings stadium supporters say they will announce a deal Thursday that could lead to a new home for the state’s professional football team.

Team officials, state leaders and Minneapolis officials said late Wednesday they planned to work through the night to wrap up a few details of a proposal that would build a new stadium next to the downtown Minneapolis Metrodome, where the National Football League team has played for three decades.

The attempt to build a stadium, likely to cost nearly $1 billion, has gone on for years, but all the pieces have not fallen together. The primary problem has been how to fund a stadium and how to divide up the cost among the state, a local government partner and the Vikings.

Reports after a two-hour Wednesday night meeting in Gov. Mark Dayton’s office indicate that the state’s portion of construction costs would come from state revenue produced by allowing bingo and pulltabs to use electronic devices.

Not all details were wrapped up Wednesday night, although supporters appeared confident everything would be done by Thursday morning.

“People are going to be working through the night,” said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the prime House stadium backer.

Even if a deal is done, legislators and Minneapolis City Council members will need to approve it. There is signficiant opposition in both bodies.

At mid-day Wednesday, Dayton complained that legislative leaders have done little to further efforts to build a stadium.

“There’s only so much I can do,” he said.

The governor, however, did credit Lanning for his work on the issue.

Republican legislative leaders said they can’t do much until someone gives them a bill. Last year and this year they have said other issues are priorities, and they will deal with a stadium only once a deal among major supporters has been reached.

Dayton would not confirm whether a plan would be released, but with potentially up to three months left in the session, “there is still time to consider it,” Dayton said.

Earlier, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, talked about the chance of adjourning for the year in April.

Senjem said he is not inclined to keep the Legislature in session just to wait for a stadium deal to be done.

Building a new Vikings stadium would offer jobs to construction workers who otherwise would be “sitting on the bench this construction season,” Dayton said.

Dayton has said he hears that some lawmakers do not want to take a stadium funding vote this year because it may not be popular in an election year like this.

Even if a deal is announced thursday , a bill will need to be considered by a variety of legislative committees. Lanning said the public will have a chance to weigh in on the decision.

The governor and legislative leaders have said they would not support a stadium funded by general tax funds.

The Vikings last year worked out a deal with Ramsey County for a stadium in Arden Hills, but the county never could find a way to fund its portion of construction that legislative leaders said could pass.

Minneapolis stepped up its stadium lobbying efforts and eventually become the front-runner for a new stadium.

The Minneapolis plan calls for building a new stadium just east of the Metrodome, allowing the dome to remain open during most of the construction.