Stadium Faces Another Vote As Vikings Stars Visit Capitol

Sen. Julie Rosen, Commissioner Jim Schowalter, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

By Danielle Nordine

A Vikings stadium bill will face an unexpected hurdle before reaching a full Senate vote.

The bill was expected to head to the Senate floor if approved at the Finance Committee meeting today, but Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said it should go to her Senate Tax Committee first. The Finance Committee is expected to vote on the bill later today, with Ortman’s committee likely to take it up Thursday morning.

Ortman, chairwoman of the Tax Committee, said the bill “contains provisions that require the consideration” of her panel.

Gov. Mark Dayton said he still places odds of the stadium construction bill passing at 50-50, but going through an expected tough grilling in the Tax Committee does not help.

While state leaders debated funding a stadium, three Vikings stars went into Dayton’s office early this afternoon. Adrian Peterson, John Sullivan and Chad Greenway attracted a media crowd.

A similar stadium bill awaits a House floor debate, though it is unclear when that will be. Many have said it is time to put the question to the full House and Senate.

Several high-ranking Republicans said they do not expect GOP leaders to put the stadium bill, or a public works financing bill, up for a House or Senate vote until Democrat Dayton supports one of their priorities, such as a business tax cut. The stadium and public works are atop Dayton’s priority list.

Lawmakers are hoping to end this year’s legislative session Monday. Senate bill author Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said she thinks the stadium bill likely will be one of the last debated.

If the proposal passes the Legislature and is signed by Dayton, the Minneapolis City Council still must approve the plan. The council voted 7-6 Tuesday to add the stadium to its legislative agenda, symbolically showing support for the project.

“We will take this vote and build on the momentum happening at the Capitol to bring good jobs and lower property taxes to Minneapolis,” Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

Legislators are looking at ways to help St. Paul fund some of its sports facilities or pay off debt in the bill as well. Rosen’s proposal would give St. Paul $1.3 million annually for 20 years for those.

But the Finance Committee voted to remove a proposal to give St. Paul $43 million to help pay for its River Centre and Xcel Energy Center that was added in Wednesday’s jobs committee.

Rosen said many of the details of the proposal can be worked out when the Senate and House combine their versions of the bill after both chambers pass their own.

The state would put $398 million toward stadium construction of the $975 million stadium on the Metrodome site in Minneapolis. That piece would funded by allowing for electronic pulltab and bingo devices, under bills authored by Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead. The Vikings and other private sources would contribute $427 million, while Minneapolis would add $150 million.

“We tried to keep the public out of the business of running a professional NFL team,” Chairman Ted Mondale of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said of the financing.

A few of the Finance Committee members questioned whether gambling could cover the state’s portion of stadium funding.

But Rosen said the estimated revenues from electronic gaming are very conservative.

“We will be able to pay off our debt service at a quicker pace,” she predicted.