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Local Legislators Still Weighing Latest Stadium Plan

Latz and Simon are exploring all the details of Thursday’s proposal, but Winkler says he is opposed to it.

Local legislators are still digesting the details of a $975 million Vikings stadium proposal introduced Thursday.

“I would say that the reception so far in the House is cautious,” Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-District 44A) wrote in an e-mail interview. “I think most legislators (like me) want to digest the details.”

Under the plan, the state would pay for $398 of the project, or 41 percent, through charitable electronic pulltabs. Minneapolis would pay $150 million, or 15 percent, through Convention Center sales and hospitality taxes. And the Vikings would pay $427 million, or 44 percent.

That’s a smaller team contribution than Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-District 44) would like. , he said he’d prefer that the team pick up half the costs—with a 40 to 45 percent private contribution the minimum he’d support.

At that same meeting, Latz spelled out three other criteria a proposal would have to have before he’d support it. The project would have to:

  • Take advantage of existing infrastructure
  • Minimize the public investment
  • Ensure the public gets a return on the investment, specifically a declining public share in the team should the Vikings be sold off early.

Meanwhile, Representative Ryan Winkler (DFL-District 44B) says he is opposed to the idea.

“Building shiny new projects simply distracts us from tackling obstacles to future prosperity,” he said.

"Part of the funds to pay for this stadium would be raised through pull tab gambling and if we are going to raise funds that way there are a lot of other places that money should go."

Winkler says he is not interested in funding the stadium right now. "The Vikings can wait," he said. "Now is not the time."

The new stadium’s location on the Metrodome site would position it to take advantage of existing infrastructure—especially when compared to the Ramsey County’s Arden Hills site.

Still, the plan is so new that Latz doesn’t know how well it will meet all of his criteria.

“I haven’t had one (plan) in front of me on the stadium until today, and the details are still emerging,” he said.

The plan introduced includes several downtown blocks listed as “future development opportunities,” but Latz said he thinks the economic development potential around the site is minimal.

“If it hasn’t happened in the last 30 years, I don’t think we’ll see it in the foreseeable future,” Latz said.

Thurday’s proposal is just the latest stadium plan—and it could still be altered.

“I predict that the bill could undergo several changes before it passes. But the basic framework will probably remain the same,” Simon said. 

Yet there’s no certainty the proposal will progress to a vote in the Legislature. Latz thinks lawmakers will wait to see what the Minneapolis City Council decides to do. The council would need to agree to divert hospitality taxes to the project without going to a referendum.

Although Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is a stadium supporter, several council members have been critical of a stadium project.

With so much uncertainty, Latz said he couldn’t handicap the proposal’s chances of getting a vote this session. It might have a better than 50 percent chance, but so much depends on what Minneapolis does, he said.

Brad Kadue March 03, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Here's a relatively minor issue relative to electronic pull tabs that hasn't found it's way into the discussion - jobs. Does anybody know how many Minnesotans are employed in our state at the pull tab booths? Could we reasonably expect that the vast majority of these jobs would disappear if electronic pull tabs were approved? I commend rep. Winkler for his committed opposition to this plan. He seems to be one of the very few at the capitol that recognizes that now is not the time to be looking at building a stadium.

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