Vikings, GOP Chief Tussle Over Stadium Vote Timing

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings stadium drive at the Capitol may have been thrown for an unexpected loss on Wednesday.

It came after an unusual email from a powerful lawmaker to every Republican in the Minnesota House. In that email, House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he wouldn’t support a special session solely for a Vikings stadium bill and he never has.

That sent a lot of stadium supporters scrambling at the Capitol, including the Vikings. Gov. Mark Dayton summoned Republican and Democratic leaders to his office Wednesday morning for an urgent and very private meeting.

GOP leaders emerged with a call for public hearings, but refused to back a special session. This latest news is throwing the stadium in jeopardy.

“The response was to our members asking what’s the plan? We don’t have a plan yet, we don’t have a bill-formed plan yet to talk about so without that, how can we have a special session?” Zellers said. “We don’t have a plan in place. In order to get to a special session we need to have a plan.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Dayton told the media he has canceled future stadium talks, and as far as Dayton is concerned the stadium situation is “in limbo.”

“That was all up for discussion but to extend it now for another six months to the end of the regular session, which will be early May, is just going to leave us with the same basic decisions,” Dayton said. “Do we want to keep the team or not, where to locate a stadium if we do and how to pay for that not using any general fund tax revenues.”

The Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires at the end of the season and it would only get renewed if there was a plan in place to build a new stadium. If something isn’t done and relatively soon, it’s a very real possibility Zygi Wilf would look to move the team out of the state.

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