White Earth Band Steps Into Vikings Stadium Sweepstakes

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A Minnesota Indian tribe upped the ante for a new Vikings stadium on Thursday.

But the offer to help comes as lawmakers are leaving the Capitol for a long break with the stadium deal in limbo. The high stakes gamble comes from the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. It’s Minnesota’s largest Indian tribe, and also the poorest.

White Earth Band officials are prepared to put $400 million on the table to get into the casino game. They upped the ante with a bold pledge to pay the state’s entire share of a Vikings stadium, and $1 billion besides.

“It is now the Governor and the legislators turn. You have the ball,” said Erma Vizenor with the White Earth Band. “It’s time for Minnesota wins. Minnesota wins is the only solution, the only solution that meets the common sense test of fairness and no new taxes guaranteed.”

In return for a Twin Cities casino, White Earth officials say it will pay $400 million upfront for a Vikings stadium, build the $700 million casino itself and split the profits 50-50 with the state. That’s estimated up to $1 billion over five years.

“White Earth has moved the ball to the goal line. White Earth is ready to go,” Vizenor said.

The White Earth proposal was barely launched before it landed with a thud. Just 49 minutes later, the House Speaker called it a bad bet.

“A lot of these gambling options we’ve gone through, the voters aren’t there in committee or in the body so let’s stick with what works. That’s an expansion,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers.

So where does that leave the Vikings? In the game, but barely. Gov. Mark Dayton listed the stadium as his near-top priority but is doubtful Republicans leaders share his enthusiasm.

“School’s out. It remains to be seen whether they are sincere in their intention to take this to the floor and get a vote and let 201 legislators decide or whether they are still playing games,” Dayton said.

There’s difficulty at the Capitol to be sure, but White Earth faces its toughest opposition from fellow tribes, who operate casinos in the Twin Cities.

More from Pat Kessler
  • Anne

    This is too funny..

    Most legislators aren’t bright enough to figure out what’s going on. They are being played.

    The smartest thing they could do, the best thing for the taxpayers, would be to do NOTHING.

    • Death

      How are they getting played? The smartest thing to do is accept the offer & get the deal done!

  • Bruce

    I love it. We have a proposal to get the state off the financial hook for a new vikings stadium and the Speaker of the House has wedged his head. Governor Ventura recommended we change to a unicameral legilature to reduce the size of the mud puddle our hogs cavort in. With the can’t and won’t do’s that our current legislators participate in, such a legislating by constitutional amendment, it appears that we would best be served by a non-cameral legislature: let them work for a living – elsewhere.

  • game_on

    Take the money!!

    Define a gaming district in Bloomington near the runway and LRT and let any tribe build there for the 50/50 deal.

    This is a way to finally get revenue out of the tribes in Minnesota.

  • Don

    How much money are the local tribes paying the legislatures to block this downtown casino. Put this to a constitutional amendment!!!!

  • Liquid Nails

    This will never happen.
    It makes too much sense and is very logical. A no brainer.
    So as we all know, because it makes sense, our fine representatives in Government will refuse to consider it.
    Things have to be very complicated to get passed, so nobody really knows what they just did!

  • bingo

    They have to accept this offer, they would(and will) be to stupid not to. You know they are getting paid off big time by the local tribes if they do not pass this!! Let’s see, we could save the taxpayers millions and make millions down the road off of the profits but lets not accept this, no brainer.

  • Dennis from Elk River

    How do a limmited few have the power to sink such a great idea. Puplic opinion polls show this idea would be accepted in a landslide if all citizens of MN got a say. Perhaps the reason is the general public does not have their hands in the pockets of special interset groups.
    It is time for the citizens of Minnesota to speak up. Oh and legislators to represent the people who elected them not special interests.

  • Chips

    This makes me so mad…” It’s Minnesota’s largest Indian tribe, and also the poorest.”… Come on Minnesota, help these native people out. What do we care how a Viking stadium is built with out our tax money.
    If you think we do not know that you are being paid by the current casino tribes over or under the table you are fools. You mkae me sick!

  • NS

    with all that money there gonna spend…..why not help out the native americans with health care..dental..all that good stuff

    • Dennis from Elk River

      Because it makes sense and apparently that is not in line with the plans of elected officials with their hands in the pockets of special interest groups.

  • Ochica

    Read the book “Red earth, White earth” and gain some understanding and history of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe .

  • solarhoilday

    Mystic Lake will never allow this to happen, see hudson, wisconsin the death of an Indian casino.

  • Bree Fairbanks

    II’d like to know what’s in it for the Tribal members of WhiteEarth? While Viznor is busy wagging her tongue, has she even gotten the go ahead approval of the tribal members at all ? Members are still waiting for other payments in cases that where settled with the government long ago. Unless she plans on including all tribal members to reap the benefits of this casino, this time, she needs to shut up. Milwaukee’s Potowatami tribal members all get a cut of there casino’s revenues, $2000.00+ per family member, plus trust accounts set up for underage minors until there of age to claim it, plenty enough to pay for a good college education, rather then having to pratically beg our White Earth tribe to help pay for ours.! So, well she’s busy shouting billions, maybe tribal members need to find out her plans of sharing it

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