MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a fourth-and-long situation just two days before the Minnesota House is slated to vote on a new stadium agreement.
Gov. Mark Dayton, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak rallied fans at the Mall of America Saturday alongside Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president of stadium development, Sen. Julie Rosen, (R-Fairmont) and Rep. Terry Morrow (D-St. Peter).
Hundreds of stadium supporters filled the rotunda outside Sears, shouting phrases like, “Now or never” and “Remember in November.”
Allen drew the most applause when he said the “Dome isn’t the place fans deserve.” The record-winning defensive end urged fans to come to the Capitol on Monday and call their lawmakers over the weekend.
“You guys are the taxpayers, call and tell them what you want,” he said. “You guys want a new stadium, so we can break the sack record again.”
Dayton told the crowd he wants the team to always be the Minnesota Vikings, never the Los Angeles Vikings or Tucson Vikings.
The rally came after Dayton vetoed a high-priority Republican tax bill Friday, which could have netted votes for the stadium bill.
On Thursday House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he wouldn’t line up the votes to pass the stadium bill, because the Dayton dismissed priority bills. Earlier this week, Republicans said their tax bill contained enough business tax relief to create 14,000 jobs – more jobs than a Vikings stadium would create.
When asked about the angry response to that veto Saturday, Dayton told reporters: “Frankly, if people vote against the stadium to try and make me look bad, they are just going to make themselves look worse.”
Monday, House lawmakers will consider the original plan replacing the current Metrodome with a new Vikings facility. That plan would be financed through expanded gambling and revenues from new electronic pull tab machines placed at bars and restaurants.
The nearly $1 billion plan would call for $427 million from the team, $150 million from Minneapolis and $398 million from the state. Critics call the deal bad for taxpayers. Season ticket holders at the rally said the stadium would give an economic boost and ensure the Vikings stay for another generation of Minnesotans.
Vikings fan John Schreiner, who attended the rally, said he’ll show up Monday to support his team.
“I will take the day off on Monday to head to the State Capitol, and be able to provide some influence to support a stadium for the benefit of all Minnesotans,” he said. “That’s where I believe we have the greatest challenge, and I would like to see a lot of Vikings supporters there to perhaps provide context.”
Photo Gallery: Vikings Stadium Pep Rally