Reporting Pat Kessler
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The rocky road towards a Vikings stadium deal took another unexpected turn on Tuesday with a new plan from Republicans and strong rhetoric from Governor Mark Dayton.
In another Vikings shocker, Republicans at the Capitol abruptly abandoned the Vikings stadium bill waiting to be voted on in the House and Senate. Instead, they’re proposing an entirely new plan that no one has actually seen yet.
A visibly irritated Gov. Dayton said he learned third hand of “secret” stadium and accused Republicans of trying to kill the bill for political reasons.
“To have these kind of games being played, who’s going to get the credit, who’s going to get the blame? Who gets the win, who gets the loss? That’s what it’s come down to for them,” said Dayton.
Republicans revealed they’ve got a new idea for a less expensive stadium, but this one’s without a roof. And there’s more. Republicans say the state should only pay for infrastructure: That’s just what’s underground, from the turf down.
“I think we have pretty broad consensus from our caucuses that this is a path forward. We’re looking for solutions at this point, and this has the broadest support,” said Rep. Matt Dean.
The latest twist caused a political furor. The Minneapolis Mayor, where the roofless facility would presumably go, said no go.
“That is a dead deal because this partner is not going to be part of that,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak.
The Vikings denied holding any secret meetings. The team says Republican leaders requested information, and they provided it.
“We have four to five days left in the session. There’s lots of politics and end game negotiations and conflict. We’re trying to stay out of that,” said Lester Bagley with the Vikings.
The new stadium has the backing of the legislature’s top Republican leaders, who apparently abandoned the deal that took two years to negotiate. Gov. Dayton is renewing his call for an up or down vote.
“I would ask Minnesotans to call you legislators and say stop fooling around,” Dayton said.
We asked the Governor’s office for comment on the latest Vikings proposal, which Republicans unveiled late Tuesday afternoon.
A spokesman told WCCO-TV, “They’re living in Fantasy Land. They’re taking a knee at the goal line.”