ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton plans to meet as early as Monday with top lawmakers and Vikings team officials to try to jumpstart the Vikings stadium talks.
For the Vikings, there is a renewed sense of urgency to figure out what, if anything, it will take to get a Vikings stadium vote at the legislature
“Let’s get this done,” said team owner Zygi Wilf at a rare news conference Wednesday at which he emphatically endorsed a $1.1 billion plan to build a stadium in suburban Arden Hills.
Even though the Vikings are only five games into their football season, the team is focused on Game 16: That’s when its 30-year Metrodome lease expires. There are no plans to sign another one, and the team wants the legislature to approve a stadium deal soon.
“We believe this issue needs to be in focus, and resolved, and in process by the time the lease expires,” said team Vice President Lester Bagley.
Although Minnesota lawmakers may love the Vikings, they don’t love the idea of a stadium vote.
“I don’t see it as something you want on your re-election brochure,” said Republican Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville.
He’s the assistant GOP majority leader, and he’s expecting another big budget deficit.
Thompson said lawmakers he’s talked to deep reservations about spending public money in a recession for a wealthy sports team.
“How do we as a legislature come in when we said we would not raise taxes before, and don’t want to raise taxes and then fund a business that has a disproportionately large percentage of highly compensated individuals in it?” Thompson said.
Thompson and other legislators watched closely a vote Tuesday night by the Ramsey County Charter Commission, which rejected a county-wide referendum raising the sales tax to pay for a stadium
In a written statement, GOP Senate Majority leader Amy Koch said, “My personal preference remains for there to be a referendum. However, the decision by locals will be a factor in discussions going forward. Regarding the recently released report about the Arden Hills site, it shows there is a potential $150 million more in expenditures that have yet to be identified. To date, I have not seen a finalized Viking Stadium proposal nor has Governor Dayton provided any specific details on how a stadium would be funded. The Vikings are a state asset and I look forward to continued dialogue with fellow legislators, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Vikings.”
Meanwhile profootball talk.com is reporting that the Vikings say they have been contacted by more than one community about moving the team.
Bagley would not identify the communities, but told the website he believes that the efforts will become public if and when the Metrodome lease expires.