The Big Story Blog

Signs of progress on a Vikings stadium bill?

Posted at 11:42 AM on January 24, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Politics

The news last night that Gov. Mark Dayton sees the Metrodome site as the only viable option for a publicly financed Vikings stadium set off waves of hand wringing today about the team's future. But with the Legislature just minutes from opening the 2012 session, a key leader indicates things might not be as grim as they seem.

The Star Tribune reports:

House Speaker Kurt Zellers said Tuesday there has been progress in putting together a public subsidy deal for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, but stopped short of saying the project would be brought to a vote this year.

Zellers spoke shortly before the Legislature on Tuesday convened for the year.

His comments came one day after Gov. Mark Dayton told the Vikings that the team would have to commit to building a new stadium at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis in order to have the project win legislative approval this year. "When you look at where we've come, even in the last six weeks -- let alone six months, or a year - we've actually now kind of gotten down to a point where we're site specific," said Zellers.

But Zellers indicated that a bill - which has yet to be introduced -- would not be brought to a House vote unless there were assurances it had enough backing to be approved. Zellers said he and stadium supporters were wary of what happened in the late 1990s when a proposal to build a new Minnesota Twins stadium failed at the Legislature, derailing for years the team's attempt to obtain public subsidies for a new stadium.

The public financing of the stadium remains a crucial, unresolved issue.

There's popular support for a stadium public financing plan that would expand gambling at two Twin Cities race tracks.

While there would still be a big political fight over the "racino" idea, Senate Republican leader Dave Senjem this morning said on MPR News that racino gambling may be brought to Minnesota voters to decide this year.

DFL Sen. John Marty, a stadium opponent, said he doesn't think the stadium deal will get done this year.
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About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.