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Vikings Stadium Bill Far From A Done Deal

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The plan is in place. Now the Vikings, Minneapolis and state leaders need to sell their new stadium deal.

The bill will likely go to lawmakers next week. It puts the new stadium in the same space as the Metrodome. Governor Mark Dayton called it “The People’s Stadium” on Thursday.

The stadium would cost more than $900 million, but no tax money from the state’s general fund will be used.

In the plan announced Thursday, the state’s $398 million would come from new electronic pull tabs. The city of Minneapolis would kick in an extra $339 million. The Vikings would pay more than half: $754 million.

Even though there’s a bill, there are still three major hurdles to overcome. The first obstacle: State lawmakers.

“I’m a Vikings fan, that’s my preference. I don’t want to see them leave,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers.

But despite that, Zellers said he won’t be an advocate for this Vikings stadium bill. He said he won’t support it if the electronic pull tab machines which would make up the state’s share take away from charitable pull tabs.

“If it in any way diminishes the way we help some of those charitable organizations, I think that would be a big concern for a lot of people. Not just me, but a lot of advocates for the charitable pull tabs,” said Zellers.

The second obstacle: The Minneapolis City Council.

“I think this plan is on the 5 yard line and there are still 95 yards to go,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff.

Schiff believes this bill is a false start. In part, he said, because it raises the city’s contribution by $25 million and he thinks Minneapolis could end up paying far more than what it’s slated to pay for a new stadium. He wants voters to be able to weigh in.

“This would lock in those restaurant taxes for the next 30 years to pay for a stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. That’s not a recipe for economic development, that’s a recipe to kill jobs,” said Schiff.

The third obstacle: Public support. Some Minneapolis taxpayers said they don’t want to see their tax dollars, nor gambling dollars, go towards a new stadium.

“If I had any way of stopping it I would. If it were something that were up for a vote, I would vote against it,” said Beth Thomas of Minneapolis.

“I feel it’s a poor choice for the city, state, or federal to promote gambling,” said John George of Minneapolis.

While the Vikings may be celebrating today, WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler, who’s been following the stadium drive for more than 10 years, believes the future is still uncertain.

“There would be red alert in Vikings hallways if this did not come to pass this year,” said Kessler.

The total price for the stadium $975 million, and the Vikings would pay half. The bill will be introduced next week.

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