In what appears to be a major blow to the chances of a new Vikings football stadium in Arden Hills, Gov. Mark Dayton this afternoon said the votes are not there in the Legislature to let Ramsey County go ahead with a sales tax increase without a public referendum.
It also means a Minneapolis sales tax to help fund a stadium in that city would be forced to a vote, too. Dayton says lawmakers are looking at other financing options now.
Dayton will speak at 3 p.m today. Vikings officials are expected to speak at 4 p.m.
Here's the statement Dayton just released.
At last Friday's meeting of Legislative Leaders: Senators Amy Koch, Julie Rosen, Terri Bonoff, and Richard Cohen; Speaker Kurt Zellers; Representatives Morrie Lanning, Paul Thissen, and Terry Morrow; with Governor Dayton and Chairman Ted Mondale, the consensus among the legislative leadership was that there was not sufficient support in either body to exempt Ramsey County or the City of Minneapolis from holding a referendum on increasing a local sales tax to finance a Vikings stadium. The participants requested the weekend to assess that conclusion.
Today, Governor Dayton and the Leaders of the Republican and DFL Caucuses in the House and Senate reaffirm that there is not majority support in either body for an exemption from a voter referendum. Without such an exemption, the earliest either Ramsey County or the City of Minneapolis could conduct a referendum would be in conjunction with the November 2012 General Election.
Governor Dayton said, "Last Friday's meeting was very significant in eliminating one proposed source of financing for a People's Stadium in either Ramsey County or Minneapolis, unless the Vikings are willing to endure the time delay and continuing uncertainty in obtaining voters' approval. Given this reality, we are now actively assessing and discussing with the team other financing options."