Vikings stadium bill introduced at Legislature

We finally have a Vikings stadium bill--effectively the last bill of its kind the Legislature can consider before the team's lease at the Metrodome expires--and lawmakers have until May 23 to pass it.

Talk about a Hail Mary.

The bill as it stands says nothing about where the stadium might be located. Instead, it sets out the parameters for how the facility might be paid for and how it should be administered.

The goal is raise $300 million from taxpayers through a sales tax on memorabilia, high-priced seats, "user fees," naming rights, and a Vikings-related lottery. The Vikings would be required to cough up one-third of the overall funding package.

But the stadium bill debate will take place against a backdrop of massive and highly contentious state budget cuts. Why, a lot of lawmakers and voters want to know, are we building a shiny new gladiator pit when we can't fund education and health care for the poor?

Because we can't help ourselves, the Vikings seem to be saying.

We think the legislation provides the framework to negotiate a deal that resolves the stadium issue in 2011. ... We understand the budget situation facing Minnesota, and we don't believe the stadium is more important than the core issues legislators are currently addressing. However, many, many Minnesotans believe the Vikings are an important part of this State's identity and culture, and that there needs to be a stadium solution.

The Senate version of the bill has been posted here. Its main authors are Republicans Julie A. Rosen, Doug Magnus, and DFLers John Harrington and Linda Scheid. No companion House legislation has been published yet.

One interesting tidbit for folks who still chafe when they hear the words "Los Angeles Lakers" or "Dallas Stars": The bill would require that the NFL transfer the team's name, logo, colors, history, playing records, and trophies to the state if the Vikings were to ever leave the state.


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