ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — With a less than a week left in the session, the clock is running out for lawmakers to push the Vikings stadium bill through.
Late Monday night, the bill passed a key House committee and moved on to the House floor.
On Tuesday, key business leaders urged state Senators to green light the project so Minnesotans can get back to work. Then St. Paul struck out in its efforts to get funding for a Saints ballpark through the Vikings bill.
Just a week ago, the Vikings stadium bill was declared dead. Now it’s not only revived, it’s got an intangible political asset: Momentum.
The Vikings haven’t been able to penetrate the stout opposition of the Legislature. Suddenly, there’s an opening, and the stadium is heading for the end zone.
“After a while, this starts to take on a little bit of momentum and an air of inevitability that’s pretty strong,” said Sen. Geoff Michel.
It doesn’t mean it’s easy. A century old rivalry between Minneapolis and St Paul erupted Tuesday. Capitol City lawmakers demanded subsidies for The Xcel Energy Center, River Centre and a new ballpark for the St. Paul Saints as a price of their support.
“We’re not so much the Twin Cities as we are Siamese Twin Cities in the sense that one who is healthy and the other who is struggling,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
The stadium bill is now the closest the Minnesota Vikings have come in 10 years to an actual vote. But they’re watching helplessly as the goodies pile up.
“We are concerned about getting bogged down because this is a fragile, fragile deal,” said Lester Bagley with the Vikings.
Lawmakers say they’ve been getting pressure from a nation of Vikings fans, some of whom are personally lobbying. One is making the case for instant political popularity.
“Talk to your guys, get this done with. You’re going to be treated like rock stars when this is done. I guarantee it you will,” said Vikings advocate Larry Spooner.
The stadium bill cleared another hurdle Tuesday night as the Minneapolis City Council narrowly approved a resolution supporting the stadium.
Next stop for the stadium train: A Senate Finance Committee will hear the bill at 9 a.m. Wednesday. And the full House and Senate could take a vote in the next few days.