MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s not over until it’s over when it comes to the Vikings Stadium.
Before the stadium deal is truly done, the Minneapolis City Council has to pass it. The debate over the amount the City will contribute to the new stadium is making the deal anything but an easy score.
Late Monday afternoon, the Minneapolis City Council began debating the Vikings Stadium with the initial vote by the Council scheduled for Thursday.
Supporters say the stadium will pass the council by the slimmest of margins, by a vote of 7-6.
The Committee didn’t vote but it’s clear some members have an awful lot of questions. While supporters say their seven votes will hold, opponents say they will do what they can to defeat or at least delay the council action.
Council member Gary Schiff peppered City officials with questions about the Stadium deal.
“On the site plan to be made tax exempt how is that in the city’s interests?” Schiff asked.
Schiff has been the Council’s most vocal critic on the stadium deal. He says his constituents in southeast Minneapolis are overwhelmingly opposed to the plan.
“Constituents I represent are saying, ‘enough is enough, we spend so much money on property taxes, our homes are underwater in their mortgages and now we are subsidizing a football enterprise?’” Schiff said.
Schiff says the deal is a bad one for the City. Over 30 years, the City would pay $340 million in construction and operating costs. With interest, that figure rises to $675 million with the funding coming from existing sales liquor restaurant and lodging taxes.
Opponents say the best chance of defeating the stadium is switching the anticipated “yes” vote of Council Member Kevin Reich, who alone among the seven council stadium supporters signed a more vaguely worded letter of support. Reich did not return WCCO’s phone calls.
However, stadium supporters, including council President Barb Johnson, said Reich is a firm “yes” vote.
“I talked to Kevin just yesterday. We were at an event together and I don’t have any indication he is changing his mind and the Mayor has spoken to him also,” said Johnson.
Supporters at City Hall insist they could pick up another vote over the next few days. There are some odd coalitions at play: liberal Council Member Schiff is teaming up with the conservative Taxpayer League to generate thousands of calls to council members in opposition.
In support of the stadium, you once again have the powerful, but odd alliance of Organized Labor and big business saying vote “yes” for the stadium.