ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — There is a new twist on a plan for a Minnesota Vikings stadium tonight and it involves a big giveaway.
A group of lawmakers teamed up Friday to suggest the state simply give the Metrodome to the Vikings, instead of building a new $1 billion stadium in the Twin Cities.
The Republicans and Democrats who want to do the Metrodome deal are strongly opposed to any public subsidy for a Minnesota Vikings stadium. They call it insanity, but stadium supporters are calling them “ridiculous.”
Leave it to the Vikings to unite the most liberal and conservative. Lawmakers in the state, they call the Vikings stadium subsidy “insanity.” They’re proposing to give the Metrodome to the Vikings for free.
“We are trying to offer an alternative because there is no sanity in this. Three-and-a-half to one the voters say no and the Ramsey County Board and the Capitol are talking about the largest subsidy in sports history?” said Democratic Sen. John Marty.
The 31-year old Metrodome is worth about $20 million. The Vikings would pay property taxes. The team would be permitted to renovate, retrofit or tear it down. But the governor’s point man on the stadium is not impressed.
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Chairman Ted Mondale calls the giveaway not thought out, and not helpful.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s one of the more ridiculous proposals that I’ve ever heard of. It doesn’t work,” Mondale said. “And why they are spending money and time and effort on this makes no sense. It’s not a solution.”
The lawmakers proposing the Metrodome giveaway said they are a reflection of how other lawmakers feel about a Vikings stadium, and a special session to pass it.
“We don’t want to take up a stadium. I think i speak for 90 percent of the legislature. We don’t think this merits the kind of urgency that would put it on top of everything else,” said Republican lawmaker Linda Runbeck.
One more interesting piece to this puzzle: The lawmakers Friday were all from Ramsey County, where a new Vikings stadium could be sited. They said there is little support among Ramsey County lawmakers for a stadium and predicted it will fail.
Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said the team isn’t interested. He says the Vikings remain committed to building a new, $1.1 billion stadium in suburban Arden Hills.
Gov. Dayton called the plan a distraction.
Dayton held a series of meetings this week as he pushes for a special session for lawmakers to vote on a Vikings stadium package. Dayton says he’ll keep meeting on the issue and hopes to release his own stadium proposal in early November.
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