Republicans seek details for new stadium plan

Leaders Senjem, Dean

Republicans are scrambling to fill out details of their last-minute Vikings stadium plan as they try to convince a reluctant Gov. Mark Dayton and the team to back it.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, emerged from an hour-long meeting with Dayton and Democratic legislative leaders saying Republicans want the Democratic governor’s backing.

“We also need to talk to the Vikings to see if there is an appetite,” Dean added.

Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley on Tuesday said the team opposes the plan, as did Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said after this afternoon’s meeting with Dayton that Republicans who control the Legislature should bring up bills already awaiting Senate and House votes.

The newly suggested proposal would require a lot of vetting, Bakk added.

Even with Democratic opposition, Dayton, Bakk and Thissen said they want to get more information about the GOP proposal.

Dean could provide reporters few details about it, but did say that early reports that the stadium would not have a roof probably will prove to be false. He said Minnesota Management and Budget says a roof is needed so the publicly owned facility can be used more than for 10 Vikings football games.

“There is a long ways to go with this and not much time,” Dayton said following the meeting with Dean and other Republican leaders.

The Legislature can meet five more days this year, and it comes into session again Thursday afternoon. Those five days can be spread out until May 21.

“It is absolutely worth pursuing…” Dayton said. “Whether there is any variability, I can’t say.”

On the other hand, the governor called the Dean plan “a switcheroo” from the plan that made it through seven legislative committees.

For months, if not years, most lawmakers and Dayton have said they could not accept a plan that uses general tax money to fund a stadium. However, the Dean plan relies on such money to repay stadium construction costs.

The plan already waiting for votes funds a stadium by expanding charitable gambling so more taxes are paid to the state.

“We agreed from the very beginning that there would not be taxpayer dollars,” Dayton said.

Many lawmakers, especially Republicans, oppose expanded gambling. Also, many Republicans want to pay less for a stadium.

This morning, Dayton complained that Republicans first talked about the plan in public Tuesday, overriding eight months of negotiations on bills that already await House and Senate votes. Stadium bill authors Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, did not know about the new GOP plan until Tuesday.

About $250 million of state funds would be used to build a stadium under the new plan. It was not clear if the state would be responsible for paying for a roof since the state would require it.

The Vikings and other private sources would contribute $427 million and Minneapolis $150 million to stadium construction under the original plan.

Dean hatched the plan two weeks ago. He said the concept is that the state only would fund infrastructure, which he describes as “from the turf down.”

“Nobody even knows what ‘from the turf down means,’” Dayton retorted.

Bakk said he has received more than 2,000 emails about the stadium in recent days, nearly all of them urging the Legislature to vote on the negotiated plan.

Republican leaders propose putting the stadium in with an overall public works bill that would fix state building roofs, build roads and do other projects around the state, including beginning state Capitol renovation. Dean said it has not been decided how much the bill would cost.

Dayton said that building a stadium may not happen. He said he does “not see how it can be salvaged” after the GOP plan was announced.

The governor and other stadium supporters say the Vikings likely will leave Minnesota if a stadium is not approved this year to replace the Metrodome.

Leaders Thissen, Bakk

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