Majority of Minneapolis City Council now supports Vikings stadium
With the Minneapolis City Council on board, the fate of a Vikings stadium bill is now up to the Republican-controlled legislature.
Today, after months of backdoor negotiations and hemming and hawing, a majority of Minneapolis City Council members pledged support for a new Vikings stadium at the Metrodome site.
At a news conference, Mayor R.T. Rybak told Gov. Mark Dayton: "We want to hand you the signed letters of seven city council members that support building the stadium."
"And if we can now get the Legislature to move, that will mean we can finally go forward with a stadium that will be a home for the Vikings, for professional soccer, for amateur sports, and will finally put more than 7,500 people to work," Rybak added.
Today's announcement means one of the two major hurdles standing in the way of getting a stadium bill approved this session has been surmounted. It remains to be seen whether Rybak, Dayton, and other stadium supporters will be able to gain the support of the Republican-controlled legislature.
Rybak and council president Johnson were finally able to gain majority support for a stadium plan they've long championed.
Over the weekend, two Minneapolis council members who had previously refused to support the stadium plan -- Sandra Colvin Roy and Kevin Reich -- finally agreed to sign letters indicating their support. Last week, new computer models detailing the city's financial commitment indicated that extending Minneapolis' hospitality tax through 2045 will generate enough revenue to cover the city's stadium contribution. With concerns about a funding gap assuaged, Colvin Roy and Reich finally agreed to support the plan along with Diana Hofstede, Don Samuels, John Quincy, Meg Tuthill, and Barbara Johnson.
Under the current plan, Minneapolis would kick in $150 million to build the $975 million stadium, plus an additional $189 million to help operate it. The state would use electronic pulltabs to fund its $398 million portion, with the other $427 million coming from the Vikings and other private sources.
House Speaker Zellers said his caucus still has too many concerns about pulltab revenues to support the stadium plan.
Lawmakers remain unconvinced electronic pulltabs will prove popular enough to account for the state's $398 million portion. During today's news conference, Dayton, speaking about the pulltab controversy, said, "even if [pulltab revenue] is off by a third, there'll still be enough," but he hasn't yet convinced leading Republicans. According to MPR, House Speaker Kurt Zellers said Friday that his caucus remains concerned about the prospect of the state having to tap into general fund revenues if pulltab sales don't meet projections.
Another concern is that charitable gaming officials want more tax relief for charities in return for allowing electronic bingo and pulltabs. The Star Tribune reports that talks between state officials and gaming officials regarding the tax issue have stalled.
In light of the fact that the legislative session is quickly drawing to a close while lawmakers and charitable gaming officials have yet to be won over, Dayton struck a cautious tone about Rybak's announcement.
"We don't have any agreement from [the charities]. We don't have any agreement from the legislature," Dayton said. "We need lots of agreements in the next couple of weeks."
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