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Zellers Calls Deadline Least Of Stadium Bill Snags

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — House Speaker Kurt Zellers said Friday that blowing past a legislative deadline should not be the main concern for supporters of the Minnesota Vikings stadium bill, calling the current proposal flawed and raising questions about the state’s main funding source.

“We will not leave here with a bad deal for the taxpayers,” Zellers said at a news conference.

Zellers said he’s concerned the gambling revenue — which would pay the state’s share of the $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis — could fall short and that the Minnesota treasury would be left on the hook.

Friday was a key legislative deadline where all bills must pass through at least one House or Senate committee in order to keep moving.

A stadium-related bill did pass a Senate committee Friday morning, though it wasn’t supported by the team or by Gov. Mark Dayton. Still, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Bakk suggested that bill could eventually serve as a vessel for a negotiated stadium bill.

“Nothing is ever dead around here,” Bakk said.

Zellers declined to pronounce the bill dead for the session, and he is not required to act Friday to waive any legislative deadlines. It could happen in coming weeks.

Still, Zellers raised more than one concern, not just over the gambling money but also the lack of support among members of the Minneapolis City Council, which also must sign off on the project.

Dayton is scheduled to meet Monday with legislative leaders about the stadium. The governor has been an ardent backer of the project, which calls for construction costs to be shared among the Vikings, who would pay $427 million; the state, with $398 million; and Minneapolis, with $150 million.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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