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Vikings Stadium Bill In Limbo With Time Running Out

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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) — In football terms, you could call it ‘fourth and long’ when it comes to lawmakers approving a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.

It appears to be on hold at the Minnesota legislature, at least for one day. GOP leaders say they are working on other important issues besides the stadium, but time is ticking away.

The headline on stadium developments Thursday is that there were no developments, and that’s causing some concern for Vikings supporters.

It brought more fans to the Capitol to lobby for a bill they say is not just stalled, it’s being held hostage.

It set off a protest among football fans inside the House chambers. The stadium momentum is not only stalled, opponents appear to be getting stronger.

A group of prominent lawmakers have serious concerns about using electronic pull tabs to fund the facility. It’s so unreliable, they say, the state will need to dip into the treasury to cover losses.

“I don’t want to have to explain to my constituents why we’re going to have to take a million, or millions, to pay for a Vikings stadium instead of for medical care of for schools or whatever the needs are,” said Rep. Mike Benson of Rochester.

The House author of the stadium bill disputes claims by gambling opponents that there’s not enough money. Rep. John Kriesel says there is, and calls it an effort to kill the bill.

“And so what we are trying to do over here is to say ‘Be up front with me. If you are trying to kill the bill, just let me know. Just be honest with me.’ But there’s a lot of people who want to be part of the solution,” Kriesel said.

Whatever momentum the stadium had was road blocked by the Senate Taxes Committee, which has not scheduled a hearing. The committee chairwoman is denying she is holding the stadium hostage until Democrats agree to the GOP tax and jobs bill.

“We can only do so much at any given time, so that’s what we’re working on right now,” said Sen. Julianne Ortman from Chanhassen.

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