Tax collections from electronic pull-tabs that are supposed to pay for the state's share of a new Vikings stadium are coming in far short of projections.
There were supposed to be 900 locations featuring electronic pull-tabs by Feb. 1, but there are actually only 130, according to the new budget forecast released today.
State finance officials say they now estimate each of those sites will generate about $100 dollars per day. That's less than half of what they originally projected.
Overall gambling revenue will fall $46 million short of earlier projections by 2015, according to the forecast.
Gov. Mark Dayton expressed concern about the projections, but he said he expects significant improvement by this time next year.
"I think everybody made their best attempt to do it and get it right and now we've got to figure out how to correct that so we can make up that difference," Dayton said.
Dayton said he sees no need to reopen stadium negotiations, and said there are fallback revenue sources built into the original legislation, including new lottery games and a surtax on stadium suites.
Officials with the charities that operate electronic pull-tabs say they just need more time to get them up and running.
Minnesota is the first state in the nation to offer electronic pull tabs, noted Allen Lund, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota. Lund conceded it's been a "painful process to date," but he predicted an eventual turnaround.
"We're confident that when all the players that want to play-- and there's 10 of them that are now on the sidelines waiting to get approved--the charities will come through and we will show you what we can do," Lund said. "It's far too early in the process to be assigning blame or coming up with plan B's."(0 Comments)
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said today he will not run for a fourth term.
That means he'll have one more year in office to finish up a variety of projects.
"This lame duck ain't quackin' yet," he said during a press conference at the Midtown Global Market.
Rybak laid out his plans for 2013 in a press release. They include helping the police department expand its programs to prevent youth and gun violence, improve schools, design a new Nicollet Mall streetcar, and improve the Northside Achievement Zone in North Minneapolis.
Rybak wasn't clear on his future plans, but indicated that he'd like to stay in Minnesota once he's done being mayor at the end of 2013.
Rybak's departure leaves the field for his replacement wide open, as MPR's Curtis Gilbert reported earlier this month.
Possible candidates include Council Member Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis School Board Member Hussein Samatar, former City Council Member Jackie Cherryhomes, and Council Member Gary Schiff.(0 Comments)
Gov. Mark Dayton has told the Minnesota Vikings that he is "greatly distressed" that the team is considering a plan to charge season ticket holders a fee that would help pay the team's share of a new $975 million stadium.
In a harsh letter to owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, Dayton stressed that the private contribution is the team's responsibility and not the responsibility of season ticket holders.
"I said this new stadium would be a 'People's Stadium,' not a 'Rich People's Stadium,'" Dayton wrote.
Dayton warned that it would better to not build a new stadium than have it betray the trust of the regular Minnesotans who supported the project. He also said he would urge the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority against authorizing the proposed "Stadium Builder's Licenses."
"If necessary, I will go to the Legislature next January and urge the the authorization be rescinded," he added.
A spokesman for the Vikings has not responded yet.
The license option Dayton is now objecting to is part of the stadium bill lawmakers passed and he signed into law back in May. It reads: "The NFL team/private contribution, including stadium builder license proceeds, for stadium costs must be made in cash in the amount of at least $477,000,000."
A later section says: "The authority shall own and retain the exclusive right to sell stadium builder's licenses in the stadium. The authority will retain the NFL team to act as the authority's agent in marketing and selling such licenses."
Here's the official news release reaction from the Vikings:
The Minnesota Vikings greatly appreciate Governor Mark Dayton's support for the new multi-purpose stadium for the Vikings and the State of Minnesota. However, we are disappointed by his recent letter to the team, which does not recognize a key component of the stadium agreement struck by the Vikings, State and Local leaders this past spring.2 Comments)
The stadium bill, and the prior term sheet, that was negotiated with the Vikings over the last two legislative sessions by the Governor's own representatives and legislative leaders, includes provisions that expressly authorize the sale of stadium builder's licenses and include the proceeds of any sale in the project budget. Stadium builder's licenses were vetted by the Legislature, testified to by Vikings and State of Minnesota negotiators, and most importantly, specifically reflected in the stadium legislation that was passed and signed by the Governor.
The Vikings look forward to discussing this issue and moving forward with the agreement that was completed after many long years of effort.
If the Vikings had any hard feelings toward Republicans in the Minnesota House, they don't seem to be lingering. At least not if a gathering being promoted by House Speaker Kurt Zellers is any indication.
The Maple Grove Republican joined most of the rest of his caucus in voting against the Vikings stadium proposal -- despite some personal lobbying in April by the likes of running back Adrian Peterson, center John Sullivan and linebacker Chad Greenway. The three players actually went to the Capitol during the legislative session to meet with lawmakers and plead the team's case for a new home.
GOP House members voted 33-39 on the stadium deal. DFL members voted 38-21 on the final deal on May 10.
But Zeller's invitation to a House Republican caucus fundraiser in Prior Lake next month ("Join me to hunt on October 16th!," Zellers says) lists "Minnesota Vikings" as featured attractions, including John Sullivan -- the same guy that actually went to the Capitol for the stadium. Linebacker Audie Cole and long snapper Colin Loeffler (his name is actually Cullen) are also on the bill.
Apparently, a difference over a $1 billion stadium is no barrier to hospitality.
"If people see irony there, then people see irony there," said Republican caucus spokeswoman Jodi Boyne. "There were Republicans who put up votes, and one Republican, Morrie Lanning, who carried the bill." She also noted that the GOP would welcome anyone who would like to support the House Republican caucus.
The Vikings, for their part, noted that the fundraiser was not an officially team-sanctioned event, and that NFL players -- as we saw so spectacularly earlier this month -- are free to exercise their Constitutional rights mostly how they see fit, away from the game.
Here's the email invite:
Lawmakers who supported the new Vikings stadium are getting an assist from the team this election year.
Minnesota Momentum, a new political fund created earlier this month by the Vikings, will be used to spend on behalf of Minnesota legislators who helped get the stadium bill signed into law, said team spokesman Jeff Anderson.
"We have several tens of thousands of fans signed up for Minnesota Momentum," said Anderson. "What we did during the primary election and what we'll do during the general election is let those fans know who their elected official is and if they voted 'yes' on the stadium."
Minnesota Momentum has existed since 2006 as a network of Vikings fans. But the political fund is necessary for the team to legally spend money in support of various legislative candidates.
Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, is among those the team is helping.
"After taking the difficult but necessary vote, Representative Sanders faces a challenge heading into the primary, August 14, and the general election on November 6," reads an e-mail the Vikings sent out urging fans to vote for Sanders during last week's primary. "Opponents are highlighting his stadium support as a reason to vote against him. Therefore, just as Representative Sanders stood with Vikings fans and stadium supporters last spring, we need to stand with him during this campaign."
Anderson said to expect more such e-mails throughout election season.(2 Comments)
Posted at 3:35 PM on August 22, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
The group's 20-year executive director says his last official day of work was Monday, although he's still got some "loose ends" to tie up with the charitable gambling trade group, including erasing any reference to himself from the group's website.
He figures that some time this fall, maybe September, he's moving to Hawaii.
"I've always dreamed of doing this," says Wilson, who is 55 and doesn't have a job lined up yet in Hawaii. But he goes there regularly and says he thinks the climate and island life will suit him just fine.
Wilson played a key role in the run-up to a new Vikings stadium, when backers picked his group's expansion proposal to help fund bonds for the new home for the NFL team in Minneapolis.
Allied Charities of Minnesota is taking applications for a new executive director through Friday.
Photo: Tim Nelson
Posted at 4:30 PM on May 25, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
In case you were wondering what's next for the Vikings stadium, it was right there for everybody to see, written on the whiteboard in mayor R.T. Rybak's office Friday afternoon:
For those of you who don't follow the nitty gritty of city and stadium development, the top item is Rybak's two appointments to the five member Minnesota Sports Facility Authority. Gov. Mark Dayton will be appointing two others, as well as a chairperson.
The city is also appointing a "stadium implementation committee," as laid out in the now-ratified stadium law. It isn't clear how many folks will be on that committee, but the appointments for both bodies need to be made within 30 days from the day after final enactment, which would be June 14.
Here's the only insight Rybak would offer:
"I'll have to... think about a way to really have some people who bring the urban planning, land use expertise we're going to need to make sure this is a great place on game day, but also a great place on every other day. I'll be looking for folks who represent the nearby communities, people who have some development and design expertise. And as I say, I don't think there's a limit to the number of folks. It sounds like we need a Metrodome full of people, but there'll have to be some limit."
Of course, the Vikings new home is just one of the sports facilities Minneapolis will be working on. Target Center is also in line for an upgrade. Here's Rybak's to-do list from the other end of downtown:
And that's how to spend more than $2 billion in 16 easy steps.
The Minnesota Vikings are just a step away from getting a new $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a stadium conference committee report this morning that would finance the new stadium.
The move comes after the Dayton Adminstration and lawmakers from both political parties held a series of closed door meetings to discuss the particulars of the final product. The plan increases the team's contribution to $477 million. The state of Minnesota would spend $348 million on the new stadium. The city of Minneapolis would spend $150 million.
Vikings fans, lobbyists and supportive lawmakers cheered and shook hands after the House passed the measure 71-60. 38 Democrats joined 33 Republicans to vote for the bill. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said he's pleased that his seven year effort to get the Vikings stadium is coming to a close.
"We knew this was going to be a real challenge and it was," Lanning said. "But anybody who follows my career knows I have a lot of patience and perserverence."
Several critics of the bill said they were concerned about the use of public money for a profitable franchise. Others worried that the expansion of electronic pull-tabs would not produce the expected revenue to finance the stadium and the team should have kicked in more cash.
"We're growing government here and we're doing it in a very bizarre way," Rep. Doug Wardlow, R-Eagan, said. "We're funding handouts to millionaires and billionaires by taking away from those who can least afford it."
The Senate is expected to take up the conference committee later today. If that body passes the measure, it would head to Governor Dayton for his signature.
Here's the vote breakdown (provided by the Associate Press):
DEMOCRATS VOTING YES
Anzelc (Balsam Twp); Atkins (Inver Grove Heights); Benson, J. (Minnetonka); Brynaert (Mankato); Champion (Minneapolis); Dill (Crane Lake); Dittrich (Champlin); Eken (Twin Valley); Fritz (Faribault); Gauthier (Duluth); Hilstrom (Brooklyn Center); Hortman (Brooklyn Park); Hosch (St. Joseph); Johnson (St. Paul); Kath (Owatonna); Knuth (New Brighton); Lesch (St. Paul); Lillie (North St. Paul); Mahoney (St. Paul); Mariani (St. Paul); Marquart (Dilworth); Melin (Hibbing); Moran (St. Paul); Morrow (St. Peter); Murphy, M. (Hermantown); Nelson (Brooklyn Park); Norton (Rochester); Pelowski (Winona); Persell (Bemidji); Poppe (Austin); Rukavina (Virginia); Simon (St. Louis Park); Slawik (Maplewood); Slocum (Richfield); Thissen (Minneapolis); Tillberry (Fridley); Ward (Brainerd); Winkler (Golden Valley)
DEMOCRATS VOTING NO
Allen (Minneapolis); Carlson (Crystal); Clark (Minneapolis); Davnie (Minneapolis); Falk (Murdock); Greene (Minneapolis); Greiling (Roseville); Hansen (South St. Paul); Hausman (St. Paul); Hilty (Finlayson); Hornstein (Minneapolis); Kahn (Minneapolis); Laine (Columbia Heights); Lenczewski (Bloomington); Liebling (Rochester); Loeffler (Minneapolis); Mullery (Minneapolis); Murphy, E. (St. Paul); Paymar (St. Paul); Scalze (Little Canada); Wagenius (Minneapolis)
DEMOCRATS NOT VOTING
Huntley (Duluth); Peterson (New Hope)
REPUBLICANS VOTING YES
Abeler (Anoka); Anderson, P. (Starbuck); Beard (Shakopee); Cornish (Vernon Center); Davids (Preston); Doepke (Orono); Fabian (Roseau); Garofalo (Farmington); Gottwalt (St. Cloud); Gunther (Fairmont); Hamilton (Mountain Lake); Hoppe (Chaska); Howes (Walker); Kelly (Red Wing); Kiel (Crookston); Kriesel (Cottage Grove); Lanning (Moorhead); LeMieur (Little Falls); McFarlane (White Bear Lake); McNamara (Hastings); Murdock (Ottertail); Murray (Albert Lea); Nornes (Fergus Falls); O'Driscoll (Sartell); Sanders (Blaine); Schomacker (Luverne); Shimanski (Silver Lake); Smith (Mound); Torkelson (Nelson Twp); Urdahl (Grove City); Vogel (Willmar); Westrom (Elbow Lake); Woodard (Belle Plaine)
REPUBLICANS VOTING NO
Anderson, B. (Buffalo Twp); Anderson, D. (Eagan); Anderson, S. (Plymouth); Banaian (St. Cloud); Barrett (Lindstrom); Benson, M. (Rochester); Bills (Rosemount); Buesgens (Savage); Crawford (Mora); Daudt (Crown); Dean (Dellwood); Dettmer (Forest Lake); Downey (Edina); Drazkowski (Mazeppa); Erickson (Princeton); Franson (Alexandria); Gruenhagen (Glencoe); Hackbarth (Cedar); Hancock (Bemidji); Holberg (Lakeville); Kieffer (Woodbury); Kiffmeyer (Big Lake); Leidiger (Mayer); Lohmer (Lake Elmo); Loon (Eden Prairie); Mack (Apple Valley); Mazorol (Bloomington); McDonald (Delano); McElfatrick (Deer River); Myhra (Burnsville); Peppin (Rogers); Petersen (Andover); Quam (Byron); Runbeck (Circle Pines); Scott (Andover); Stensrud (Eden Prairie); Swedzinski (Ghent); Wardlow (Eagan); Zellers (Maple Grove)
Fifty million. That's the number the state has added onto the contribution it wants from the Vikings for a new stadium in downtown. The state wants the Vikings to spend $477 million - $50 million more than the Vikings commitment to spend $427 million.
A House and Senate conference committee released the number in a joint report, set to be the subject of a commitee hearing tonight. Update: Here's the conference committee report.
You can read the report here.
Senate sponsor Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, has told MPR's Tom Scheck that the team has not agreed to the number. About an hour ago, the Vikings left the Governor's office through a non-public entrance and declined comment.
"They're talking with the owners and were going to proceed ahead with the conference committee," Rosen said. "We're going to meet and go through our agreement and we'll see where the Vikings land."
The original plan, released March 1, had the state building and owning a $975 million, fixed roof stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
The state would have paid $398 million, paid for by taxes on new, expanded gambling including electronic pull tabs and bingo. The city of Minneapolis would have paid $150 million -- borrowed on the city's behalf by the state -- and paid it back with existing hospitality taxes.
The Vikings were to be in for $427 million up front.
Although that was only 44 percent of the construction cost, the team was also to pay $13 million a year in capital reserves and operations.
The conference committee report also gives Vikings owner Zygi Wilf the exclusive rights to a Major League Soccer franchise for five years. The team would play at the new stadium. The Senate stripped out that language last night.
It isn't clear how the night will proceed. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said a conference committee on the bill is more likely to meet at 11pm tonight not at its scheduled 9pm. The Conference Committee has to sign off on the bill before it is sent to the House and Senate.
The House had hoped to pass the conference committee tonight. The Senate is expected to pass the conference committee report tomorrow.4 Comments)
It was an uncharacteristic vote, DFL Sen. Sandy Pappas concedes: hers was one of the green "Y"s on the tally board when the Vikings stadium bill came up late last night.
"I have to tell you that I have never voted for a bill before for a state subsidy of professional sports stadiums," Pappas said today. "So it was a big step for me to do that."
But she says she had good reason. "There were certain things we needed to get for St. Paul," Pappas said.
The city of St. Paul wants help building a new St. Paul Saints stadium, and city is eying $47.5 million in the bonding bill, set to be granted by the Department of Employment and Economic Development for renovation and construction around the state.
"The governor has told us he would look favorably on that project. And we were also looking for some parity with Target Center. We hope that there's some language in the bill to look at joint marketing or joint operational options."
There is also $2.7 million annually for St. Paul in the stadium bill, for 20 years, to pay off debt on the city's RiverCentre convention center.
"We still have an issue with the X (the Xcel Energy Center), because we still need (state) loan forgiveness," Pappas said. "But our request for loan forgiveness was out three years, not in this biennieum, so we just have to come back and try for that next year."
Pappas wasn't alone. Three of the four-member St. Paul delegation in the Senate voted yes, including Dick Cohen and John Harrington. Five of the eight members in the House delegation also voted green.
And that wasn't the only East Metro maneuvering on the stadium field.
Outgoing DFL Sen. Mary Jo McGuire offered a last-minute amendment to the stadium bill looking for money to clean up the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills. That's where the Vikings had an agreement with Ramsey county to build last year.
The county has a limited-time offer (through Sept.) from the federal government to buy a nearly 500 acre parcel for basically what it will cost to clean it up -- $28.5 million. The DEED money is a matching grant, so the county would have to come up with half of that. (McGuire might someday have a hand in that, too. Following her departure from the Legislature after being paired with DFLer John Marty in redistricting, McGuire is running to replace outgoing Ramsey County commissioner Jan Parker.)
"I know there's a lot of people that are going for the DEED money. It's not a guarantee. It's clearly not a sure thing," McGuire said. "A lot of people are eying that DEED money."
The Senate turned down McGuire's effort, and McGuire posted a red "N" on the stadium bill a few hours later. "I've been a pretty consistent No on the stadium for a lot of personal reasons... I think the bill is not what it should be."
Was she tempted to follow her neighbors' example?
"I respect the decision of my colleagues," McGuire said. "When there's something that's going to happen, and there's not a way to stop it, then you do what you can to get what's needed in that bill."
The Minnesota Senate voted 38-28 in favor of a bill that would finance a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
The vote came after ten hours of debate that turned personal at times.
The move now means the stadium is one step closer to becoming reality. It passed the House and Senate. The two bodies will now have to reconcile their differences on the bill.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the bill's chief author, said the stadium issue has been a work in progress for 12 years. Rosen said this session's bill is the best plan to date.
"Is there room for improvement? Absolutely there is," Rosen said. "But it has been the product of a bipartisan working group in play for the last 18 months."
But critics complained that the electronic pull-tab plan that finances the state's portion of the stadium will never materialize.
Opponents said the state was falling victim to extortion by professional football, and suggestions the team might leave Minnesota. Others like Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said the NFL has a messed up economic system, and Minnesota shouldn't be playing along with it. Marty said the public subsidy is too big.
"Even if you feel we have no choice and we've got to play along, I seriously question the wisdom of saying we have to offer the all time, number one, biggest taxpayer subsidy for any professional sports franchise in any sport in history," Marty said.
A joint House/Senate conference committee will now debate the merits of each bill. The House members on the conference committee are Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska and Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-Mankato. The Senate members are Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria and Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth.
No word on when the conference committee will start working.
Here's how the votes broke down by party (via The Associated Press):
ST. PAUL (AP) _ Votes Tuesday as the Senate, on a 38-28 vote, approved a measure to finance a new Vikings stadium. Voting yes were 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans. Voting no were 8 Democrats and 20 Republicans.
DEMOCRATS VOTING YES
Bakk (Cook); Bonoff (Minnetonka); Cohen (St. Paul); Goodwin (Columbia Heights); Harrington (St. Paul); Higgins (Minneapolis); Kelash (Minneapolis); Koenen (Clara City); Langseth (Glyndon); Latz (St. Louis Park); Metzen (South St. Paul); Pappas (St. Paul); Reinert (Duluth); Rest (New Hope); Saxhaug (Grand Rapids); Sheran (Mankato); Sieben (Newport); Skoe (Clearbrook); Sparks (Austin); Stumpf (Plummer); Tomassoni (Chisholm); Wiger (Maplewood)
DEMOCRATS VOTING NO
Dibble (Minneapolis); Dziedzic (Minneapolis); Eaton (Brooklyn Center); Hayden (Minneapolis); Lourey (Kerrick); Marty (Roseville); McGuire (Falcon Heights); Torres Ray (Minneapolis)
REPUBLICANS VOTING YES
Carlson (Bemidji); Fischbach (Paynesville); Gimse (Willmar); Howe (Red Wing); Ingebrigtsen (Alexandria); Jungbauer (East Bethel); Koch (Buffalo); Magnus (Slayton); Michel (Edina); Miller (Winona); Nelson (Rochester); Nienow (Cambridge); Pederson (St. Cloud); Robling (Jordan); Rosen (Fairmont); Senjem (Rochester)
REPUBLICANS VOTING NO
Benson (Ham Lake); Brown (Becker); Chamberlain (Lino Lakes); Dahms (Redwood Falls); Daley (Eagan); DeKruif (Madison Lake); Gazelka (Brainerd); Gerlach (Apple Valley); Hall (Burnsville); Hann (Eden Prairie); Hoffman (Vergas); Kruse (Brooklyn Park); Lillie (Lake Elmo); Limmer (Maple Grove); Newman (Hutchinson); Ortman (Chanhassen); Parry (Waseca); Thompson (Lakeville); Vandeveer (Forest Lake); Wolf (Spring Lake Park)
REPUBLICANS NOT VOTING
The Minnesota Senate first overturned 18 months of negotiations, then flipped back tonight.
Senators adopted a "user fee" proposal offered by John Howe, R-Red Wing, thanks to a last-minute switch by Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove. The Senate adopted the Howe plan 34-33.
Here was the vote:
Then, minutes later, led by Sen. Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, the Senate decided to reconsider the measure. After the most impassioned debate of the 9-hour discussion, the Senate returned to the electronic pull tab plan. The Howe plan went down, 30-35, in the reconsideration vote.
Here's the board for that tally:
It may have been the most dramatic 40 minutes of the stadium debate thus far -- only to leave the bill where it started.(2 Comments)
Republican Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, is predicting a close vote in the Minnesota Senate today on the Vikings stadium bill.
The Senate gets its turn a day after the House passed its stadium bill 73 - 58 following an 8 hour debate. Senjem wouldn't predict how long the Senate debate might last. He also didn't say if the bill would pass.
"It's difficult to say. I couldn't predict it at all," Senjem said. "I think it's going to be closer than the House, and I would not be surprised if it was one vote, one way or the other."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he might have to look for more votes on his side of the aisle, if majority Republican's can't provide enough support.
Bakk has previously said his caucus would deliver 12 votes. He said that's the same number Republicans delivered for the Twins stadium bill when they were in the minority. But Bakk said Monday's House vote, which had more DFL votes than from the GOP, has made him rethink his approach.
"I guess if we find our selves in the same position here in the Senate, that Republicans aren't willing to put up the votes that it takes to try to pass the stadium, I'm going to try to reach out to some of my caucus members and try to find some votes in addition to the 12 that I've said are fair for us to put up," Bakk said.
After eight and a half hours of debate, the Minnesota House passed a bill that would finance a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
The House passed the measure 73-58. Here's the roll call:
The debate mostly focused on whether the investment was worth keeping the team in Minnesota.
"The fans want us to do something," Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said.
Other stadium supporters expressed concern the Vikings could leave Minnesota if a new stadium wasn't built. A few also said the bill will help jump start a struggling construction sector.
"We need to put our state to work," Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth said. "Today it's about putting food on the table."
But critics say a new stadium won't result in much economic benefit for the state. Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud, also said the NFL monopoly is forcing lawmakers to make bad choices.
"We had patient lobbyists out there for weeks and months," Banaian said. "It was when (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell came to town and that's what made it happen for you because they came and said 'Nice team you got here. Shame if something happens to it.'"
Other opponents questioned whether the revenue source, the authorization of electronic pull-tabs, would generate enough money to pay for the new stadium.
The House did lower the state's contribution $105 million from $398 to $293 million.
Several House members say the Vikings can afford to spend more than their $427 million contribution.
Rep. Pat Garofalo laid out the new terms.
"With the changes we're putting into this bill, public support for the project will be reduced from $548 million to $443 million," Garofalo, R-Farmington, said. "Still a very generous support package from the public."
Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley wouldn't comment as to whether the Vikings would balk at the change in the team's contribution. He said last week that the team would not spend more than $427 million.
Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley said he was also pleased that the House passed the bill and was optimistic about their chances in the Senate. Bagle did express concern about the amendment that would require the Vikings to pay $105 million more for the stadium. He said that contribution would have to be lowered if the Senate passes the bill.
"We did negotiate an agreement in good faith that had the team contributing $427 million up front and $13 million a year. That is what was negotiated over a period of months. The amendment that went on that is now the House position in the bill is not workable."
Gov. Dayton said he was pleased that the House passed the bill by a wider margin than he expected. As dozens of Vikings supporters looked on in the governor's reception room, Dayton said he was pleased that 40 Democrats and 33 Republicans voted for it.
"It was a strong bipartisan vote. The voices of the people of Minnesota were heard tonight. Those of you who are here and the thousands all over the state are rejoicing this terrific vote."
The plan would also require the city of Minneapolis to spend $150 million.
The Minnesota Senate has yet to act on the bill.
The Senate could take up the bill as early as Tuesday. Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, says she expects the Senate to take up the bill tomorrow morning. The Senate is in session at 9am.
The Minnesota House is expected to vote on the Vikings stadium bill today. The vote is likely to be close and there's no certainty it will pass.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers' announcement last week that he won't support the bill could give political cover to other Republicans who may not want to vote for it.
The public is expected to watch the final vote closely. Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, said last week that this is the type of issue that voters will remember in November.
Polls show most people want private funding, not public taxpayer money, to pay for the stadium.
Combine those issues and you have one of the toughest votes that lawmakers will take this session.
Here are the lawmakers I'll be watching as amendments are proposed and the board opens for the final vote.
The Minneapolis Delegation
MPR's Tim Pugmire did a good job of detailing how many members of the Minneapolis delegation don't support the Vikings stadium plan. Watch to see if some people in the delegation start indicating support. It has a stronger shot if a few, like Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, support it.
The St. Paul Delegation
There has been much hand-wringing over the past few weeks that St. Paul is getting skunked on this stadium plan. The concern is that the Target Center renovation will put the Minneapolis arena in direct competition with St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center for concerts and other events.
Watch to see if an amendment forgiving some of St. Paul's loan is adopted. There could also be amendments calling for help to build a new St. Paul Saints ballpark in downtown St. Paul. A spoonful of that sugar can help make the medicine go down for St. Paul members who are reluctant to vote for the bill.
Several House members are retiring. That means those lawmakers don't have to worry about incurring the wrath of voters in a primary or the general election. Some may want to take a stand against a stadium. Others may feel more free to vote for it. Others could also vote for it to spare the next person to hold the seat from facing the issue. The stadium faces longer odds if a few of them balk at backing the bill.
Both parties are keying in on several lawmakers in November. Watch and see how they vote on amendments. If those individuals vote against amendments supported by the bill's authors and the Vikings, they may be getting feedback that says their constituents don't support the stadium. The opposite may be true if they vote for amendments supported by the Vikings and stadium bill authors.
Here are a few of the lawmakers in this category.
Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud, won a close contest in 2010 (recount close) and was on the fence about the stadium bill in November despite questioning the economics of building a new stadium.
Rep. Rich Murray, R-Albert Lea, passed once on a vote in the House Government Operations Committee (he eventually vote no). It's a signal that he's conflicted on the issue. He barely won in 2010 and is being targeted by Democrats.
Other Republicans being targeted by Democrats include Rep. Bruce Vogel, R-Willmar, Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston, and Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau.
Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna, and Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, are GOP targets. Watch to see whether DFL leaders try to protect them from a controversial vote.
There are two House pairings where incumbents from different parties will face each other in November. It's hard to see Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, voting against the bill, because he has strong labor ties. Does his November opponent, Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick, R-Deer River, vote against it to mobilize the GOP base or vote for it to signal support among the more labor friendly district?
Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, is a labor-friendly Republican who is also the Capital Investment Committee Chair, so it would be surprising if he votes against the bill. He's been paired with Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji.
Watch to see how many conservative lawmakers join Reps. Drazkowski, Buesgens, Downey and Wardlow in opposing the amendments. It's bad news for the stadium if a significant number of freshman Republicans side with them when they propose controversial amendments.
Those are my thoughts. Who are you watching?
DFL Governor Mark Dayton today vetoed a package of tax breaks for businesses that he described as "unbalanced" and "fiscally irresponsible."
Dayton vetoed the omnibus tax bill less than a day after it landed on his desk. He said he wanted to get the bill out of the way so it would not be used as a bargaining chip on other remaining issues, including Monday's House vote on the Vikings stadium bill.
Republicans called the bill their priority for the session. Dayton said he had heard the veto might cost him some stadium votes, but he said that should not be the case.
"I hope that legislators will separate the issues and see that what they're deciding next Monday is whether thousands of Minnesotans will be able to go to work and whether we'll be able to keep the Vikings here at home," Dayton said.
Dayton said he's willing to negotiate an alternative tax bill with Republicans, as long as it doesn't add future debt.
Senate Republicans issued a news release in response to Dayton's action. Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said the veto was "extremely disappointing."
"It was a political decision, not a decision based upon the future best interests of Minnesota," Senjem said. "This bill was passed with bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate and it addressed concerns raised by the Governor. Sadly, the Governor chose to kill more real jobs than the bonding bill and the stadium bill will contribute to Minnesota's economy."
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers says the Vikings are going to get what they asked for: a vote by the House on the deal they struck with the Dayton administration, the Vikings and the city of Minneapolis.
"We'll be having a vote on the Vikings stadium on Monday," Zellers said. "The Vikings and the governor believe the votes are there. At this point, it's going to be up to him to gain the votes. These things, stadiums, whether it be for professional baseball, hockey or football, rise and fall on the ability of a governor not only to sell, but deliver votes."
The announcement came minutes after House Majority Leader Matt Dean said the GOP was dropping its "Plan B," this week's proposal to fund the new stadium with general obligation bonds.
"We met for several hours yesterday, and came very close... And then when we began working with MMB, it became clear that there was some hurdles within that particular arrangement about using general obligation bonds," Dean said at a morning press conference. "Because of those impediments, and we said that we would only move forward with a bill that we could get support from all parties with, that we will not be bringing that forward as a bonding proposal. We will not be bringing something forward that is not going to stand the test of scrutiny with MMB."
Zellers sounded a pessimistic tone about the stadium's prospects when it goes before his colleagues next week.
"I don't know that there are the votes in the Republican caucus for the votes at this point," Zellers said.
He also said he won't be among them.
"I've said many times, I'm trying to stay out of being a political reason for people to vote for or against the bill. I can say as the bill sits now, the cost overruns being paid for by the taxpayers, I don't think are fair deal. I have said many times, this should be a good deal for the taxpayers. The team not paying at least 50 percent of the price is a problem for me as well. And if there is no vote by the Minneapolis residents, I don't think that's fair. It was the reason I voted against the Twins bill, and if those provisions are continued in here, I will not be able to support the bill."
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said he expects the Senate will take up the stadium financing bill when, and if, the House passes it.
The GOP-backed plan to use general obligation bonding to finance the state's share of a new Vikings stadium appears to have yet another hurdle to jump.
Trouble is, according to Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL- St. Peter, that general obligation bonding has a maximum term of 20 years -- shrinking the debt payment schedule from the expected 30 year lifespan of the stadium.
John Polllard, spokesman for the state department of Management and Budget, confirmed the term issue.
Morrow says that poses another problem: matching the team's lease with the life of the bonds may violate strictures on using the state's credit card for "private purposes."
"We've all presumed a 30 year lease, but we cannot legally do a lease longer than 15 years. You can't have a lease with a private entity concide with the terms of the payment. State bond counsel is telling us the maximum lease the Vikings can sign is 15 years. I don't think we should bet the state's money on the fact that the Vikings will double the lease. We should have a plan that is firm, consistent and that people can vote for on the front end, and not hope for a good outcome in 15 years."
Morrow is a co-sponsor of the original stadium plan that finances the state share with electronic pull-tabs and bingo.
The Associated Press' Martiga Lohn is also reporting that Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem is confirming that the stadium debt and general obligation bonding need to be "delinked."
Republicans have scheduled an 11:30 press conference to talk about the matter.
UPDATE: House majority leader Matt Dean says there were too many obstacles to plan to finance stadium with general obligation bonds, says caucus won't be bringing the plan forward. Plan looks dead.
A version of the new GOP plan for a Vikings stadium has the team upping its contribution to $525 million dollars.
That's according to a document labeled "DRAFT FOR DISCUSSION PURPOSES ONLY" obtained by MPR News:
House Republican caucus spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said leadership provided similar numbers to Gov. Mark Dayton when they met with him yesterday. But she said that the draft version is outdated -- and that the indeterminate contributions in a GOP plan released last night is the actual proposal.
"This is the version that Gov. Dayton asked us not to release, because we hadn't talked to all of our partners yet," Boyne said of the draft proposal. She said House Majority Leader Matt Dean would address the matter more fully today.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley has insisted the team's contribution is capped at $427 million, as reflected by the original stadium plan that has been the subject of several committee hearings and is awaiting votes by the House and Senate.
With Tom Scheck
The stadium financing plan released by Minnesota House Republicans this afternoon pegs the state's bonding at at least $250 million for a new Vikings stadium. That's about $148 million short of the state's share under the plan for a fixed-roof stadium supported by Gov. Dayton and awaiting votes in the House and Senate.
No one is overtly connecting the dots, but those two numbers are close -- the additional financial contribution related to the construction of a fixed roof on one hand, and the gap between the new GOP plan and the original bill on the other.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem confirmed tonight that Republicans are looking for what might be termed a third way -- outside funding for the roof.
"We talked about it certainly, within our caucus," Senjem said. "It's a matter of whether or not we could come up with that kind of a commitment within the time frame of putting a bill together. It's possible, but I'm not sure, within the time frames, that it's very likely."
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, got even more specific about the potential to dun someone else for the roof.
"I have been an advocate all along to getting our vast and generous business community involved in this...I would hope that our business community steps up... gets some sort of consortium together in a trust or non-profit, and contributes to a $200 million roof," Chamberlain said. "That's an idea. People have also floated, well, why not bring in the tribes now and the Native American gaming casinos and see what they're willing to do... The partners we need in now are the business community and or the tribes. I think its close, I think its viable."
Coming out of a meeting with the Vikings, GOP House leaders and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Senjem also said the city charter is another problem.
Senjem wouldn't be specific, but there has been some heartburn about a little-acknowledged part of the long-standing plan: Minneapolis can't pay its share of the bill while it's still making payments on the Convention Center. One proposal had the state fronting some of the city's money. Yesterday, the House GOP floated essentially a "no money down" plan, using extra bond proceeds to pay the first couple years of Minneapolis' share of the mortgage.
Chamberlain confirmed that's another nut negotiators are trying to crack. He says he's also hoping a third party "helps fund the gap for Minneapolis."
House Majority Leader Matt Dean said after a meeting tonight with GOP leaders from the House and Senate that the city and the roof are issues, but he wouldn't be specific.
"There are some significant challenges," Dean said.
But the Vikings were very clear coming out of that same meeting. They're all in, said team vice president Lester Bagley.
"We are firmly sticking with the agreement that we negotiated in good faith over a period of several months that has us in for $427 million up front, and $13 million a year in operating costs, on an annual basis. That's half of the life cycle costs of the project. That's our commitment that's been negotiated, and that's what we're sticking with."
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson rejected the idea that the business community should kick in some cash to pay for the stadium's roof.
"The business community is going to have a fairly substantial investment in this stadium already when you think about the suites, and the club seats and advertising and the naming rights," Olson said. "Stadiums don't happen without that type of business community support."
GOP legislative leaders released part of their stadium proposal today. The plan, which was released by House GOP leadership, calls on the state to borrow $250 million to pay for the state's portion of the stadium to be built on the Metrodome site. The city of Minneapolis would still be obligated to pay $150 million. The Vikings share of the proposal is still yet to be determined. They plan also doesn't highlight how much a roof would cost which GOP leaders say is needed. A spokeswoman for House Republicans say the plan is being formulated and warns some of the details still need to be filled in.
Republican leadership floated the plan yesterday as a better alternative than a plan that the Vikings, Gov. Dayton and a bipartisan group of lawmakers had already agreed on. That plan relied on revenue created from allowing charities to operate electronic pull tab machines in the state's bars and restaurants. GOP leaders say that plan has been criticized over the past several weeks for being unreliable.
The plan also would give the city of Minneapolis "flexibility" in future use of the convention center tax. City officials say the use of that money is critical for the state's plans to redevelop the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.
GOP leadership and the stadium bill authors met with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Vikings lobbyists to discuss the proposal. Rybak called the discussions productive.
"At least we're talking," Rybak said to reporters.
Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley said they're looking seriously at the proposal now that GOP leaders are committed to putting a roof on the stadium. He said, however, the Vikings are sticking with their plan to spend $427 million on the stadium.
That leaves a hole of roughly $150 million on the nearly $1 billion stadium plan that Gov. Dayton supports. Dayton has called on lawmakers to vote on that proposal but said this afternoon he's willing to listen to other ideas.
Here's the plan released by GOP leaders:
Gov. Mark Dayton blasted legislative Republicans this morning, calling their counter offer to his stadium plan "gamesmanship."
"Republican leaders are playing poker with thousands of Minnesota jobs that are at stake in these outcomes, while they are trying to save their own," Dayton said,
He was joined by fellow Democrats House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, who called for their bodies to take up the existing Vikings bill for a vote when they convene tomorrow -- one of only a handful of legislative meeting days they have left under state law.
Dayton also said he would be meeting with the GOP leaders at 1 p.m. today to talk over their plan. He said he'd already had a "candid" conversation with House speaker Kurt Zellers.
It might have sounded like this, the case he laid out in his office this morning:
"This is just really fundamentally wrong, and I hope the people of Minnesota will see it for what it is. After eight months of negotiations, bipartisan, two Republican authors of the bill; after four months of a bipartisan legislative working group working together, through thousands of hours of negotiations, we came forward with a proposal. It went through seven legislative committees, went through some changes, but basically the structural integrity of the project remained as it was."
"And as the Senate author said herself, two prerequisites for it were no general fund tax dollars and there would be a roof on it so it could be used year round as a people's stadium. Unbeknownst to the bill's two authors, both Republicans, the Republican leadership yesterday, the day after they were supposed to have adjourned, come forward with this hare-brained scheme, that would basically destroy the project as it was conceived, destroy it as it was funded, and for all practical purposes destroy it for this legislative session."
"The Vikings oppose it, the city of Minneapolis opposes it, I oppose it. And here we are with no time left in the session and they don't even have a firm proposal."
House Majority Leader Matt Dean said the state should only commit to the project from the "turf down," as in infrastructure and utilities only.
Dayton countered the general fund financing in the GOP plan saying Minnesotans don't want it: "Polls show... people don't support it if their tax dollars are going for it. And they support it if they realize their tax dollars are not."
He also dismissed suggestions that the stadium project could be done in phases -- a stadium first and a roof later.
"We have a consultant who has worked on a number of stadiums around the country, and the financing of them," Dayton said. "And he's not aware of any stadium that was "roof ready" that ever had a roof added to it. Why wouldn't you do it all in one piece and get it right? When will the time come to get the public support, political support, legislative support to put another $100 million, $120 million into putting a roof on? And until that happens, you have a stadium sitting empty for 355 days a year."
Republican leaders are scheduled to talk more about their plan after meeting with Dayton. But it may be a difficult conversation with the governor. House GOP spokeswoman Jodi Boyne, speaking after Dayton's press conference, called his remarks "really unfortunate."
Republican leaders in the Minnesota Legislature say they're moving forward with an alternative stadium plan that borrows state general fund money to pay for the state's portion of a stadium with no roof.
Republicans wouldn't say how much the state would borrow, how the bonds would be financed or what the state would pay for in terms of infrastructure. But Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said the plan has more support among Republicans than the stadium agreement reached by the Vikings, a bipartisan group of legislators and Governor Dayton.
"This is yet another plan," Zellers said. "As I said all along, before you know what plan hits the floor, it's actually too early to say, but in concept I do think this is a good idea based on how much member support it has."
The plan would also require a super majority to pass because it would be included in a public works bonding bill. Vikings lobbyists say they oppose the idea.
Governor Dayton and DFL legislative leaders also criticized Republicans for not voting on the stadium bill that is already before the House and Senate. Several Democrats said they believed Republicans were trying to "kill the stadium bill" for the year.
"This is some kind of an endgame gimmick," DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said. "I expect that they probably are going to throw this Hail Mary out there and probably plan to go home. This will be the largest do-nothing Legislature in state history."
From Tim Pugmire and Tim Nelson
Gov. Mark Dayton says he was very disappointed to learn today that secret negotiations were underway between House Republicans and the Minnesota Vikings on an alternative stadium plan.
Dayton said a Vikings official confirmed to him that the new plan would use general obligation bonds for a roof-less stadium. During an afternoon news conference, Dayton said he thought Republicans were trying to score political points rather than resolve the stadium issue.
"The day after the Legislature was supposed to go home, they come out with a brand new financing that totally revamps it, that totally changes it from what it was intended to be, a people's stadium, to something else. It's just really hard to take this seriously."
Dayton again urged the House and Senate to vote soon on the bipartisan stadium bill that has already cleared all committees.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, walking into a meeting with Senate leaders, said he wasn't familiar with the proposal. He wouldn't speculate about whether it could pass in the House.
"I have no idea," Zellers said. "This is just another idea. It's that time of the session. Things, new ideas pop up. I haven't seen any of the details."
Senate stadium bill sponsor called the plan "a little bit of a surprise." She said it wasn't a viable deal, as far as she was concerned.
"There are some very key parts to this stadium deal. No. 1, it has to have a roof, whether its retractable or its fixed. This is the People's stadium. This should be able to be used by the high school football and soccer leagues, and the St. Thomas baseball team for spring practice. And we should be able to have a Super Bowl and the Final Four, and all those above. This is truly a stadium that has to have a roof. It could be on a little later, as long as its prepared."
MPR News did obtain the outlines of the proposal:
There may be no party more conflicted by the deadlock at the Capitol -- other than the Legislature itself -- than the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
The group was key in getting a Vikings stadium bill moving again last month, when the plan was languishing in Senate and House committees. But now the stadium is tied up with their other priority: a bill that cuts taxes for businesses. Republicans and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton are locked in a "you first" staredown over the issue.
The highlight of the Republican tax bill on the table right now is freezing statewide business property taxes. Dayton said this morning he won't accept that because of the cost to the state treasury in future yearsand nixed it in his counter offer to the GOP yesterday.
"There's no property tax business reduction in our proposal, because the tails on that are enormous," Dayton said. "All of their tails would be about $145 million in the next biennium." Dayton says the state can't afford that.
But Minnesota Chamber President David Olson says it may be that the state can't afford not to.
"I think the bottom line is to send a signal to Minnesota businesses that we care and that we realize the economy is tough. And that's where we're hoping the governor and the legislative leadership can get get in a room and say, you know, how can we send a signal here, how do we pass a tax bill so we can get to work on a bonding bill and a stadium bill?" Olson said in an interview this morning. "You know, it's that time a year when all sides should be negotiating, and I think we're urging all sides to do exactly that."
But what about that property tax phase out? Is that a must have?
"I think it is," Olson said.
"Everybody realizes these are tight budget times," he added. "So I don't think the business community or the Republicans in the House and Senate for that matter, are overreaching here. I think they've shown a willingness to negotiate, and we're encouraging the governor to negotiate. Get everybody in a room, figure it out and go home."
For the time being, however, there are no meetings scheduled between the two sides. And what about the stadium bill? Olson says the tax bill has to be first in line.
"I'm convinced you need a vote on a tax bill and a passage of a tax bill before you're going to pick up enough votes for a stadium, and that's where things are colliding. I think there are some folks that have a broader agenda than just a stadium."
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers says the Minnesota House won't vote on the Vikings stadium bill Saturday because stadium supporters indicated to him that they didn't have the votes yet to pass the bill.
"There were a lot of them who said don't bring it up today," Zellers told MPR News. "We're going to wait for the authors and the advocates to say 'we believe we have all of our votes now.' Until then it's too early."
Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislative leaders held a news conference Saturday afternoon to call on Zellers to hold a vote on the stadium bill. They say they met Zellers' demand for Democrats to put up 34 votes--half of the votes required to pass the bill in the House.
Zellers countered that Democrats fell short of their promise to deliver votes when the Vikings stadium bill was debated in the House Government Operations Committee. He would not say whether he intends to vote for the bill.
DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen disputed Zellers' characterization of his vote counting.
"If the speaker doesn't trust that the 34 votes on the Democratic side are there, he should just take up the bill and find out," Thissen said.
Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley also said he isn't sure who Zellers talked to about the bill, but Bagley said it has enough support to pass.
"We believe the votes are there especially if the House DFL puts up 34 votes," Bagley said. "We have not told the speaker that they aren't there, but we do know that there is strong support for the Vikings and support for resolving this issue."
Bagley said he believes the Vikings stadium bill is caught up in end of session negotiations. In addition to the stadium Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders are trying to find agreement on a tax bill and a public works construction bonding bill.
Zellers said his caucus is putting a priority on a tax bill and the bonding bill. He said they're still pushing for a bonding bill that would spend $496 million on several projects including restoration of the state Capitol building. He also said they want to pass a tax bill that includes tax cuts for businesses and residential property.
Dayton hasn't met with GOP leaders in several days, but his staff has been negotiating on his behalf. GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean said he would have hoped Dayton would have been more involved in recent days.
"I don't know where he has been. I don't know why he has been absent," Dean said.
Bob Hume, a spokesman for Dayton, said GOP legislative leaders have not requested a meeting with the governor.
The tie-up over the stadium comes just three days before a Monday deadline to adjourn. Zellers says he's still committed to meeting the self-imposed deadline but hinted that the Legislature will have to meet longer than that.
"If we need to make a little extra time for some of the shenanigans that these folks are going to plan, we'll do that because it's more important to do the right thing for Minnesotans," Zellers said.
It isn't clear whether the House and Senate will hold a rare Sunday session. GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem suggested on Friday night that the Senate would hold a Sunday session to take up the Vikings stadium. DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said he believed the appetite wasn't there to meet on Sunday.
With MPR's Tim Nelson...
The Vikings stadium bill is being targeted for a Sunday vote in the Minnesota Senate.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said that was the plan after the bill was narrowly approved by the Senate Tax Committee. The committee held a nearly six hour hearing on the bill. The hearing was divisive as stadium opponents made every attempt to derail the bill.
The Senate Tax Committee approved the bill by one vote after stadium supporters urged the committee to get the bill to the Senate floor.
Senjem, who voted for the bill in committee, told reporters after the hearing that the Senate will vote on the bill regardless of whether it has enough votes to pass.
"By in large, the idea of a vote on the Minnesota Vikings this year is something we talked about for a long time," Senjem said. "Up or down, whatever people decide in terms of their views, their faith in the bill, their districts, their personal convictions."
The stadium author in the Senate, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, says she believes it has enough votes to pass.
Stadium opponents will push for changes to how the stadium is funded and aren't willing to sign off on the deal Rosen and Gov. Dayton reached with the Vikings.
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said he believes stadium users, not gamblers, diners or drinkers, should pay for the stadium. He backed a measure to pay for the stadium's mortgage with on-site fees.
"To me, that's a lot fairer way to do it," Marty said. "Everybody who 's using the stadium would pay for it."
Marty's effort to amend the bill in the Tax Committee failed. He and several other stadium opponents are expected to work every angle to defeat the bill on Senate floor.
The House is also ready to vote on the bill. GOP House leaders, however, won't say when that vote will be held.
GOP legislative leaders in both chambers say they hope to finish their work by Monday but members of both parties say that's becoming less likely because of the amount of work that's left to do.(1 Comments)
The chair of the Senate Tax Committee has not scheduled a hearing on the Vikings stadium issue. Sen. Julianne Ortman,R-Chanhassen, said yesterday that she wanted to hold a hearing in her committee on the bill.
Ortman, who said she's not a "big fan of stadiums", hasn't scheduled a hearing on the bill yet. She told reporters that she's unlikely to hold a hearing on the stadium until Republicans reach a deal with Governor Dayton on an overall tax bill.
"I wouldn't call it hostage taking but you know we post hearings when we're ready to have the hearings," Ortman said. "We have staff that are working really hard on putting together an omnibus tax bill and arranging for conference committees and we can only do so much at any time so that's what we're working on right now."
The Senate Tax Committee will be the last stop for the bill before it heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The House is set to vote on the bill, but Republican Speaker Kurt Zellers wouldn't say when the vote will happen.
Update: Ortman scheduled a Friday hearing at 3pm on the stadium bill.
Posted at 11:40 AM on April 25, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Senator Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, is as opposed to the current stadium deal as anyone at the Capitol.
He's author of a rival bill, to loan the Vikings the money and let the team pay for it. "I'm not against a stadium," he says. "I just don't think we should take the first offer."
He's also one of eight Republicans on the Senate tax committee, where he expects, as he has before, to oppose the deal.
"We want a stadium," Chamberlain says. "We want a better deal. That's all we want. Anybody who thinks that Chamberlain and his colleagues don't want a stadium deal, want the Vikings to leave, they're absolutely wrong."
He says it's the taxes that are the problem -- taxes on new gambling. "Last year we didn't push tax increases for any reason," Chamberain says. "This year, the governor and others are pushing for tax increases and voting for tax increases and exploitive gaming to support a billionaire. They're taxing and taking from the poor to support a billionaire. They're taxing and taking from the poor to give to the rich. We want a stadium deal, but I want a better deal for the state of Minnesota, and we can get a better deal."
That said, he thinks the Vikings stadium is going to make it through the tax committee.
"I think they'll work it to get the votes," Chamberlain says. "They've worked it through the system so far, giving things to folks, whether its charitable gaming, or the Xcel Center, or the unions, or particular wards or precincts in Minneapolis."
It looks like the stadium odds on the tax committee might be pretty good.
A quick scour of the campaign website of DFLer Ann Rest (a Tax committee member) finds this nugget:
"I am a sports fan and wish all our teams well. I enjoy outdoor baseball at Target Field, but I did not vote for the ballpark proposal. I do not support state financing of a new stadium for the Vikings, including using resources from new gambling revenues. Every legislator should have the opportunity and responsibility to vote on the Senate or House floor on the stadium proposal. I will not deny members that vote through action in any committee that I sit on. My focus will be to protect taxpayer interests in this venture." April 18,2012
Also, freshman Senator John Howe, R-Red Wing, just told MPR's Tim Pugmire that he is a yes, at least on the tax committee.
"I want to see it get to the floor," he said. He wouldn't commit to what he'd do there, however.
Senate tax committee chair Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassan, said today she wants the Vikings stadium bill to get a hearing in her committee.
"The Vikings Stadium proposal that passed the Senate Jobs Committee contains provisions that require the consideration of the Senate Tax Committee," Ortman said in a statement released this morning. "I am requesting that the bill be referred to the Tax Committee following this morning's hearing in Finance."
In an interview, Ortman said there are "some significant tax provisions related to local taxes, and that gambling provisions also raise revenue by imposing a tax on the transaction. And so we want to see them, and make sure everybody's aware of them."
Stadium bill authors previously stripped out a sales tax exemption for stadium construction materials, a likely matter of interest among tax committee members. Bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said it would cost the state about $180,000 in 2013, $4.7 million in 2014 and $8.9 million in 2015. That's a total of $13.87 million in foregone sales taxes.
"I think that's something you can eventually deal with," Rosen said, after telling the Rules Committee she planned to drop that provision in the stadium bill. "But this is a planning phase for next year. You get your revenue stream in place, and actively generating dollars, and there might be some other sales tax exemptions we want to throw in. Its absolutely something you can do later."
That wasn't washing on Monday with at least one tax committee member, Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. He said the the bill should go to Ortman's panel.
"I think I can probably find three Democrats there, which means they'll probably have to find four out of their eight," Bakk said. "I think they can figure that out. And I meant it when I said I'm not trying to derail the bill. I'm just trying to respect the committee jurisdictions, and clearly, if you're going to forgive millions of dollars of sales taxes, or exempt it from taxes, then it needs to go to taxes. It just does."
That isn't in the current version of the bill, following the Jobs and Economic Growth committee hearing yesterday.
But Bakk says the same legal shift that keeps the plan away from the polls in Minneapolis -- designating the city's sales taxes as state funds, and thus not subject to voter approval -- is another argument for tax committee jurisdiction.
"Redirecting the Minneapolis sales tax money to another purpose is kind of another klinker that the tax committee probably should look at. You know, [Republican Majority Leader Sen. Dave] Senjem actually mentioned that to me. He said, 'you know, Tom, I got this Minneapolis local city sales tax in here, too. And I said, yeah, I know.' So I think it's going to go to taxes. I think it clearly should."
If Bakk is correct, and the Republicans have to come up with four votes, it could be a dicey situation in taxes.
Two members of the committee have already voted against the idea once: Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, and Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who has been among the most outspoken of the Senate critics of the current plan. Chamberlain has a rival bill to loan the Vikings the money for the stadium, in place of the $400 million state contribution now in the bill, paid for by taxes on new electronic pull tabs and other gambling.
Two other Republicans are also public backers of the deal. Rosen, the bill author, is on the taxes committee. And yesterday, outgoing Jobs chair Geoff Michel, R-Edina, gave what may have been the strongest endorsement of the stadium of anybody not wearing a team jersey or on the payroll.
"I'm going to support your bill," Michel told Rosen. "I think its part of our brand. I think this is part of Minnesota. You know, we're a little challenged. We don't have an ocean. We're in flyover country. Some of us even think we have high taxes. We need some things. We need some stuff. We need some stuff to offer to families and yes, even to businesses to come here and stay here and grow here. And this is part of it. This is part of our stuff."
Which could leave four Senators to decide what's going to happen if the stadium goes to taxes: committee chair Ortman, Majority Leader Senjem, R-Rochester, outgoing freshman Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, and freshman John Howe, R-Red Wing.
The committee chair said she didn't know how it would go. "I leave it to the author and the Vikings and the others to count votes," Ortmann said. She wouldn't say which side she'll be counted on. "I want to hear it first. I want the opportunity to ask some questions and hear about it first."
But Ortman is also facing an intra-party challenge from Kevin Masrud. You can see his campaign Facebook page here. Masrud says the endorsing convention is May 15 -- presumably long after a stadium vote.
Is her endorsement race figuring in her stance toward the stadium? "No," Ortman said. "You know, I would say we all are hearing from both sides. We hear a lot of folks hotly in favor and those passionately against."
Which could make the Vikings bill in the tax committee some must-see TV.(3 Comments)
The Minnesota Senate's Local Government committee passed the plan to build a new $975 million Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis tonight. (See vote below)
The vote came after a more than a month of controversy: the same committee tabled the stadium bill in March.
"It's been an up and down week. Touch and go," said Vikings vice president Lester Bagley. "We'll get busy and go after the bill in the Jobs committee in the Senate and at the same time try to shake it loose in the House. I would rather not get into guessing what happens next, but we're encouraged."
He did have one caveat -- a 10 percent suite tax put on in an amendment offered by Ken Kelash, DFL-Minneapolis.
"We're not supportive of that," Bagley said.
But Kelash won over the committee with a populist argument: "The poor sucker from some part out state, doing pull tabs that will never be able to afford a seat in this stadium, he's subsidizing the guy sitting in the box. And those guys are not only not paying any taxes to help pay for the bonding on this stadium, but they're also able to write off the receipts as part of their corporate expenses."
The committee also stripped out a provision in the existing agreement with Minneapolis, the state and the Vikings that would allow the city of Minneapolis to use sales tax money to rehab Target Center.
Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, had proposed deleting the Target Center part of the deal. He said it gave Minneapolis an unfair advantage over St. Paul.
Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak said it won't work that way. "The only way we can pass this [at the City Council] is the package that we brought forward."
The Minneapolis city council has scheduled a hearing on the deal next Tuesday, and Target Center is the carrot that the state has offered to win over doubters on the council.
"This is a very critical part to Minneapolis' deal," bill author Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, told the committee.
A majority of Republicans in the committee actually voted against the measure. They were led by Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who said the state was giving too good a deal to the Vikings.
He offered a competing bill that would give the Vikings only a loan for the stadium.
"They have the financial wherewithal," Chamberlain said of the Vikings. "They're smart enough. We can come up with a deal that is more equitable for this market. We're not asking them to pay for everything. We're asking them to include the business community, which has $430 billion in gross revenue. And we're asking for the fans to pay a little bit. So we want a deal done. We just want something other than the first offer."
Rosen said the bill will go to the Rules committee on Monday, and the Jobs committee Monday night. It's likely to have to pass the Taxes and Finance committees as well before it can make it to the Senate floor.
The roll call:
Mary Jo McGuire
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney emerged from a meeting with state leaders this morning without a breakthrough in the battle over a Vikings stadium.
"After many, many years, the time has come to pass the legislation and move forward," Goodell said. "We expect and hope that after today's meeting, there is a general commitment to be able to do that in this session, and that will assure the Vikings will be here for a very long time, which is our objective."
Goodell said there were no ultimatums. "There were no implied threats or any threats at all. What we talked about was the importance of creating a solution here," said Goodell. "I think the legislative leaders and the governor understand the time is now."
It's unclear if any of the leaders in the meeting hadn't heard or didn't believe that message from the Vikings and the NFL before.
The real question is what's going to happen in the Minnesota House, where the stadium bill failed to clear a committee on Monday. GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers declined to commit to bringing the issue to a vote on the floor, which is what the team and League have been demanding.
"I think we'll have that answer for you in the next couple of days, I think. Right now, I think it's a little too early. Essentially, the bill is dead. It died in Gov Ops. But there's creative ways around here to make sure things do move," said Zellers. "So, it's alive in the Senate, and that may be the best first step."
Gov. Mark Dayton had what might be the single nugget of news from the meeting. He said the NFL says it has started working its way down its relocation checklist.
"They said again that they'd like to have a team in Los Angeles," Dayton said. "They'd like to have it be not the Vikings. There are other franchises, that are likely, possible to go. There are other places beyond Los Angeles, he didn't elaborate, that are interested in a team. So whether the Vikings are going to get sold, or somebody's going to move them, or they're going to get moved, they didn't address that."
There were reports yesterday that the League might tell Minnesota that it was waiving its Feb. 15 relocation deadline. That could potentially put the debate into sudden-death overtime by letting the Vikings announce a move after this year's deadline. But Goodell denied that the League had suggested any changes to the relocation policy in today's meeting.
The Senate is scheduled to take up its three Vikings stadium bills 30 minutes after its session today, which will be the first test of whether the NFL visit may have moved the ball at all at the Capitol.1 Comments)
Posted at 10:40 PM on April 19, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
The House tax committee green-lighted the proposal to expand charitable gambling to include electronic pull tabs, bingo and sports-themed tip boards tonight, following a sometimes contentious three-hour hearing.
Republicans fended off challenges from the right and left to the plan. Taxpayer's League president Phil Krinkie told legislators the $50 million in new revenue the plan brought in amounted to new taxes. DFLers tried to earmark the money to pay for a Vikings stadium, repairs to the state Capitol, a bonding package and paying back the school shift.
Minneapolis DFL Rep. Jim Davnie praised the bonding amendment's proposed "asset preservation."
The effort drew a sharp rebuke from Republican Sarah Anderson of Plymouth: "Asset preservation..." Anderson said. "The only asset preservation going on here today is you trying to preserve your asset and the fact that you voted down the bonding bill here today. You killed it. You killed the opportunity for the only jobs plan that you've had this session to spend more money and incur more debt. I think this is an insult... This is nothing but political gamesmanship."
DFLer Ann Lenczewski, of Bloomington, who offered the bonding amendment, had a one-word initial response: "Wow." She later withdrew the bonding measure.
The discussion eventually settled down, and the panel approved the charitable gambling bill on a voice vote.
Bill sponsor John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, said he was glad to get the measure cleanly through the committee, without fighting over the stadium for too long.
"I want to make sure we take care of the charities and the bars, those small businesses across the state. That's the focus. If the Vikings stadium bill gets revived, if there's a shot for it, then I'm cool with this being the funding source," Kriesel said afterward. "From the start, that was the position on it. But things weren't looking so good today. Things aren't looking good at this minute, so you have to be flexible."
The bill is moving next to the House Ways and Means committee.
Meanwhile, the stadium issue has popped up again in the Senate. Late tonight three separate Vikings stadium bills, from Lino Lakes Republican Roger Chamberlain, South St. Paul DFLer Jim Metzen, and Fairmont Republican Julie Rosen were placed on the Local Government committee agenda for tomorrow, nearly a month after that same panel first took up the stadium.
A report in the Los Angeles Daily News that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf's private plane had been spotted in southern California also caused a stir at the Capitol during the hearing. The NFL has been looking at either relocating a team or expanding in Los Angeles.
And in Minnesota Friday morning, League commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers owner and NFL stadium committee chair Art Rooney, II are scheduled to meet with state leaders.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is coming to Minnesota tomorrow to talk with state leaders about the impasse over the Vikings stadium.
And while Gov. Mark Dayton today cited the precedent of the stadium struggle in Cleveland almost 20 years ago, the NFL's executive vice president says a similar relocation isn't what Vikings fans should be worried about: It's a change in ownership.
"If I were in Minnesota, I wouldn't waste my time thinking about Los Angeles or Toronto or any other city," said Eric Grubman. "I would be thinking about whether or not I have an ownership committed to keep it there. And that's the beauty of the Wilf family. They have been committed to keeping it there. They are tired. They are dejected, they have lost their optimism. They haven't lost their will to fight for it. But they are running out of gas. And if I were there, and running through the dynamics, the last thing I would want is an ownership that has given up. Because then, you have no idea what would happen."
In short, stadium building is a long and arduous process, but a sale of the Vikings to someone willing to wait -- perhaps for a new home somewhere else -- could happen with a few pen strokes.
Is that what the commissioner is coming to tell Minnesota?
"The first thing they're going to do is listen," Grubman says. "They'll get together with the govenor and legislative leaders, and look them in the eye, and ask them, well, where are you? And why is this stalled in committee? And what are the prospects for getting it out?"
We may find out soon enough. Senate Majority leader Dave Senjem said he hopes to capitalize on Minority Leader Tom Bakk's offer of five DFL committee votes and get the stadium out of the local government committee tomorrow.(1 Comments)
Gov. Mark Dayton says National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney ll are coming to Minnesota tomorrow to meet with state officials and try to impress upon them the importance of getting a stadium deal done now. Rooney is the chair of the league's stadium committee.
Dayton said he talked with the two on the phone again today and that they told him that the VIkings situation in Minnesota was unacceptable.
"The situation is really way below their standards," Dayton said. "It's an antiquated stadium. It's not something that they would want to have, to carry forward into the future. And the reality is that there are other cities that are looking for an NFL franchise. Again, its putting us on notice, and it was very justified what they said."
He also said they rebuffed his suggestion earlier this week that a deal could still be done next year. Dayton said the prospect of a new Legislature and winding through four more months of talks next year left too much uncertainty for the league and the team.
Dayton also said he put the chances of calling a special stadium session later this year "somewhere between extremely slim and extremely none." He said that since the Legislature isn't constitutionally required to adjourn before May 21, there was still plenty of time for the team, the state and a local host to hash out the details of a deal.(3 Comments)
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk pulled a flea-flicker play on TPT's Almanac at the Capitol tonight: two days after a Vikings bill died in a House committee. The DFL-er offered a surprise pledge to revive the plan in the Senate.
"The bill in the Senate is in the Local Government committee, and Sen. Senjem has been having a hard time getting the Republican votes there," Bakk told Almanac reporter Mary Lahammer. "So I actually told him yesterday that I will put up the majority of the votes to pass the bill in the local government committee, if they can get a hearing scheduled there, to move it onto the Senate tax committee, where it'll face another pretty tough hurdle."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem wasn't nearly so effusive about the idea.
When asked by Lahammer whether the Senate would hold another stadium hearing, Senjem responded: "I would believe probably we are, one way or another."
He said it would be up to Senate Local Government chair Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, and stadium bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont.
Senjem also put in a plug for GOP Sen. Roger Chamberlain's plan to loan the Vikings money for a new stadium rather than subsidizing the project outright.
"People are all of the sudden starting to look at it far more seriously than before," Senjem said. "There's a tone in our caucus, let's take a longer look at that one."
Senjem said the hearing could still come this week.(8 Comments)
Gov. Dayton is discussing the Vikings stadium situation with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Dayton's spokesman Bob Hume said Dayton called Goodell earlier today to discuss how the stadium issue gets resolved in Minnesota. Hume characterized it as a "sobering conversation."
"The commissioner shares the governor's sense of urgency to have the state act this year," Hume said. "The commissioner reiterated that the failure to do so would have serious consequences for both the Vikings and the NFL in general."
Hume couldn't outline what those "serious consequences" would be. Hume said Dayton, Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney (Chair the NFL's stadium committee) will discuss the situation again in the morning.
Dayton and other stadium supporters have said that it will be difficult to revive the stadium bill this session after a committee in the Minnesota House killed the bill earlier this week.
The House Taxes Committee is scheduled to take up a bill on Thursday that was initially aimed at helping finance the stadium. Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, said he wanted the Tax Committee to act on the charitable gambling portion of the bill. He said, however, that he was open to seeing the Vikings stadium bill language amended on to the bill after the Tax Committee acts on it.
"I want to get it clean out of there (Tax Committee)," Kriesel said. "Down the road, who knows?"
Meanwhile, Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, held a news conference calling on the Vikings stadium to be built in Arden Hills.
"As a fan and a taxpayer, I recognize the need to not just find a stadium solution, but to find the right solution. A solution that will benefit Minnesota as a whole," said Rep. Mahoney in a statement. "Given the jobs it will create and the property taxes it would generate, I believe this proposal does just that."
The Vikings and Ramsey County had a deal on a new stadium but it fell apart after the GOP controlled Legislature raised several concerns over the financing plan.(1 Comments)
In his strongest comments to date, Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers is suggesting the Minnesota House could vote on a Vikings stadium plan before the end of session. Zellers, who has been reluctant to commit to whether the House would vote on such a plan, now says there's a likelihood it can happen. In an interview with MPR News, Zellers said the Vikings stadium bill cleared both the House Commerce Committee and the House Rules Committee in the past few weeks.
"We've said all along that if it continues to move through the process, which last week with some pretty good pace, moving through two committees in one week is a lot better pace than you've seen so far," Zellers said. "We're committed to a fair process, and if it can move along like that and continues to move along like that, I think you'll see a vote this year."
Zellers said the delay in both the House was caused by debate over whether there was a sufficient backup funding plan in place to ensure that no general fund money would go to the stadium. The more than $975 million stadium plan relies on $400 million in state funding, $150 million from the city of Minneapolis and $427 million from the Vikings. The state plan relies on money generated from allowing charities to operate electronic pull-tabs in bars and restaurants. The plan also legalizes sports-themed tip boards which would be used to give charities a tax break.
Several lawmakers, including Zellers, said they were concerned the projected annual revenue estimates from the electronic pull-tabs would never materialize. They wanted a back-up plan to ensure the state's general fund wasn't used to pay for the stadium.
The bill was changed to require other revenue sources "blink on." Those funding sources include a tax on luxury boxes, a sports-themed lottery game, an admissions tax at the stadium and reserve funds from Hennepin county sales taxes used to build Target Field.
The House Government Operations Committee is likely to hold a hearing on the bill next week. The Vikings stadium bill is currently stalled in a Senate committee but GOP leaders are working to get the bill moving.
"It's active," GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said last week. "We're trying to thread that needle."
Gov. Dayton has been pushing for the House and Senate to vote on the bill before the end of session.
Zellers comments come as the House and Senate are on a 10-day Easter/Passover break. Lawmakers return to St. Paul on Monday with the hopes of wrapping up the session by the end of the month.
It also comes as the state's two largest business groups have ramped up their lobbying for the stadium. Lobbyists for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership have both confirmed that they are contacting lawmakers on the stadium. Minnesota Business Partnership executive director Charlie Weaver said CEOs of EcoLab, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and General Mills have all contacted GOP leadership on the issue.
"It's not going away," Weaver said of the stadium debate. "Rep. Zellers is hearing the love of the business community for the stadium on this deal."
Weaver said the stadium also has the strong support of the state's labor unions. He said that should help deliver DFL votes to get the deal done.
House GOP leaders say they want to finish the legislative session on or before April 30 but the constitutional deadline to adjourn May 21.(2 Comments)
Posted at 5:40 PM on April 4, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Ramsey County is making another bid to get back in the stadium race.
Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL - St. Paul, said he's offering a bill that would put a new Vikings stadium back at the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills. This comes two months after Gov. Mark Dayton ruled out any option but rebuilding where the Metrodome now stands.
Mahoney said the deal would offer a $300 million local share, with $100 million financed by a 2 percent suburban food, beverage and hotel tax.
"And that money that's raised from that tax will be used to fix up the roads around the site, which includes 35E," Mahoney said. "So the citizens money is not going to the Vikings. It's going to fix up the roads."
That $100 million infrastructure cost tanked the Arden Hills plan last year.
A referendum threat didn't help much either. Mahoney said he'll solve that, and put the plan on the ballot "so the citizens get a chance to vote."
Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, the chief proponent of the Arden Hills site, said the plan should not be counted out.
"We haven't died," Bennett said. "Sometimes the possum has to stay hidden for a while. We're not getting any answers out of Minneapolis, other than they're being told they can do what we can't. So we'll wait and see how this plays out."
The Vikings reacted coolly to the idea. "We appreciate the interest," said team vice president Lester Bagley. "But right now, we're focusing on the plan in Minneapolis brought forward by Rep. (Morrie) Lanning and Sen. (Julie) Rosen."
Mahoney was undaunted. He said he thinks good things may come to those who wait.
"Hopefully, it'll stay in the conversation. I think we're trying to move forward. If you look toward the future, it's a better vision of what we're going to do with that area. You've got 400 acres that no one's ever going to live on, and if you don't have a premiere development on it, what you'll get there is single story brick buildings with trucks going in and out of it."
Posted at 2:25 PM on March 29, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
The Minnesota Vikings aren't the only ones suggesting they'll leave town if they don't get a new home.
Stadium boosters say a host of other marquee events would also skip Minnesota without a new stadium.
"If we can't get the stadium deal done and the Vikings organization leaves Minnesota, it would be a serious loss for our entire community," said Richard Davis, CEO and president, U.S. Bank , in a release from Home Field Advantage, a coalition of stadium boosters that released a favorable poll last week.. "The loss of an NFL franchise would have a negative effect on our economy and our future ability to grow and attract jobs."
The group says there would be an additional $55 million in ongoing revenue from the Vikings alone, including $35 million in hotel, bar and restaurant spending, $12 million in taxes and $5 million for the Mankato area when the Vikings are in training camp.
Critics have long alleged that much of that money would be spent anyway -- by other visitors or on Minnesotans on other forms of entertainment.
The VIkings are looking for a new $975 million home where the Metrodome now stands.
Home Field Advantage, the coalition of labor and business groups backing a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, released the results today of the statewide poll it commissioned. The group asked 1,000 Minnesota voters what they thought about the ongoing stadium debate.
The top lines: 73 percent of respondents are following the issue closely (only 9 percent say they aren't following it closely); 61 percent say that they like the financing plan that involves gambling proceeds, Minneapolis hospitality taxes and the Vikings contribution; 72 percent say it's somewhat or very important that the team stay in Minnesota.
You can read the full results, including breakouts for Duluth and Rochester here.
The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc, and had a published margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent. It was sponsored by Home Field Advantage, a coalition of stadium supporters created by the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and Meet Minneapolis, the city's convention and visitors authority.
Interestingly, the results from Home Field Advantage don't entirely reflect the "survey instrument" that seems to have originated the poll. That one has more questions, and they're the really interesting ones. You can read the survey questions here.
Specifically, the survey asked who'd be held responsible if the Vikings didn't get a new stadium and left. The list:
Did not respond and none of the above were options, but not listed.
But that ranking gets right to the heart of stadium politics right now. Downtown Council Chairman Sam Grabarski declined to disclose the results. When asked, he said:
"If you want to know what the public at large is thinking, remember most are watching this carefully. Most want to keep the Vikings in Minnesota, and most are supporting the plan that's on the table. And so the answers were they're holding us all responsible, literally. Everybody was mentioned. And particular, the public gets its information from news sources such as yours, and so they're very focused on the Legislature, the governor, the Vikings, to get the job done. But in point of fact, we were all mentioned. It should come as no surprise, that between the Vikings and the Legislature, they want those parties to get the job done."
That may be true, but it looks like Mason-Dixon did ask the question, and the company is usually more definite than "coming as no surprise." Asked specifically about the options offered to survey respondents, Grabarski again demurred about how the parties involved might rank in the blame game.
"Nearly half of the respondents are focused on the fact that the Legislature has another month to get this job done. So nearly half of the respondents, if they mentioned, they mentioned the Legislature. But remember, everybody was mentioned."(2 Comments)
Minneapolis city council member Sandy Colvin Roy was huddled in the City Council chambers until just before 7 p.m. tonight, talking Vikings stadium.
She walked out with council president Barbara Johnson, one of the plan's biggest backers. But Colvin Roy said she hasn't signed onto the memorandum that Johnson and Mayor R.T. Rybak want to present to lawmakers, to show the city is ready to ratify a stadium deal.
"I had a knee-jerk reaction to subsidies for sports stadiums," Colvin Roy said, as she was leaving the building. "But I have been listening to the financial projections, I have been listening to the city attorney, I have been listening to my constituents. Nothing got signed today."
That's a crucial point. Colvin Roy is possibly THE pivotal vote on the council, which would have to approve a key detail of the city's Vikings stadium plan, diverting state-authorized sales taxes to a new NFL venue, after they pay off the city's Convention Center.
Stadium supporters sent in the plan's chief financial consultant and development director Chuck Lutz to meet with Colvin Roy. She said it wasn't a brow-beating.
"They didn't try to give me any pressure. Mark Kaplan and Chuck Lutz gave me the financial runs," Colvin Roy said. "Most of the pressure is coming from me internally, frankly. Because this is a very important decision for the city of Minneapolis for a very long time."
But with only weeks, or even days left in the 2012 Legislative session, and lawmakers insisting on a straight answer from the Minneapolis City Council, it isn't clear yet when that might happen.
As for Colvin Roy, she was finished talking for the day.
"I'm going to go home and get a good night's sleep."(6 Comments)
Stadium supporters are rolling out poll results on the Minneapolis stadium plan later today at the State Office Building.
Home Field Advantage, the coalition of business and community leaders in Minneapolis, sponsored a phone poll of 1,000 registered Minnesota voters to gauge interest in building the Vikings a new stadium.
Wondering what the Mason-Dixon Polling & Reseach Inc. folks were asking Minnesotans about the Vikings and their prospects for replacing the Metrodome?
Well, we think we got yer polling instrument right here. Or at least one version of it. You can take it yourself and see how compatible you and your NFL companion franchise might be:1 Comments)
Posted at 4:54 PM on March 22, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Minneapolis officials are trying to put together a show of support for the Vikings stadium plan put together by the Rybak and Dayton administrations and the team.
City council members and planners were huddling Thursday evening, trying to get seven signatures on a letter to the state, giving lawmakers some assurance that the council will ratify a stadium bill if it passes in the Legislature.
Asked this afternoon if he was ready to declared victory, Mayor R.T. Rybak said "not yet."
Gov. Mark Dayton's spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci said "nothing's signed, nothing is done."
But city council member Meg Tuthill said she thinks things could get clearer but didn't know how the count stands.
Here's one version of the letter:
One of the people in the stadium meeting held by Gov. Mark Dayton and a trio of Minneapolis City Council members yesterday morning confirms that the meeting had a interesting twist -- a "reveal," as its known in the business.
The union-backed polling shown to the council members showed support for a stadium deal "in the high 60s" in terms of percentages among residents in Ward 1 and Ward 12. Those wards are represented, respectively, by Kevin Reich and Sandy Colvin Roy, on either end of the city's eastern border.
They're two members of the reported "no" bloc that's keeping the city council from signaling its willingness to play along with the stadium deal struck by Mayor R.T. Rybak, the Vikings and the Dayton administration.
Did the numbers make a difference?
Reich wouldn't say one way or another, but he confirmed he saw the poll results and had this observation: "It's my understanding that the numbers were an aggregate of two wards, based on non-random polling. And thus it wasn't possible to break out numbers for a specific ward."
Several union activists approached by MPR News declined to release the numbers or polling data. Colvin Roy didn't respond to a call or e-mail about Monday's meeting.
But she, Reich and the Minneapolis City Council are key players in the fate of the stadium right now. The deal faltered in the Senate's local government committee last week, and still hasn't been sheduled for its first stop in the house, the Commerce Committee chaired by Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska.
Bill sponsor Morrie Lanning, R- Moorhead, sounded a bit weary of the explanation when asked about the prospects there this week. "As I've been saying, it's not going to progress until there's an understanding with the charities and until something happens with the city of Minneapolis."(5 Comments)
Gov. Mark Dayton met with three members of the Minneapolis City Council this morning to talk to them about their support for a stadium.
Dayton said Mayor R.T. Rybak, council president Barb Johnson and two other city council members attended. City officials identified them as Sandy Colvin Roy and Kevin Reich, although neither has returned a phone call to their office seeking confirmation.
"There are a couple that are carefully considering their position," Dayton said of council members.
Reich said earlier this month that he believes city's voters need to approve the proposed $975 million stadium plan in a referendum. Rybak, though, said the same day that he didn't consider Reich a "no" vote.
Colvin Roy last month cited similar reasoning in voicing her reluctance to supporting a stadium plan: that 1997 charter amendment that requires a referendum on stadium spending over $10 million.
The two are part of what are reported to be a majority "no" bloc on the council, and part of the reason Rybak has said he hasn't been able to offer tangible proof of the city's support for his stadium plan. And if Reich and Colvin Roy are in fact the swing votes on the plan, Dayton offered little indication that he'd swung them.
"Well, they're open to considering their position," Dayton said. "I don't know that either of them have taken a firm position. I don't know that for a fact one way or the other. But they both indicated they were willing to consider their position."
Dayton touched on another facet of the stadium debate as well: whether the council can vote on a stadium before the Legislature acts.
"I'm not a lawyer. Some say the council can't actually by law vote definitively until after the Legislature enacts the legislation. So I think what the Legislature's looking for is a letter, that's clear that at least a majority of the Minneapolis City Council support the project, and ultimately assuming that the terms stay relatively the same, would support it."
But Dayton also added that he still considers the stadium alive. "I'm still hopeful," he said. "We didn't get any final commitments, but we didn't ask for any final commitments, either."(5 Comments)
The effort to build a new Vikings stadium stalled out earlier this week but nothing is ever dead at the Capitol until the legislature goes home.
The bill is missing today's committee deadline: Sen. Ray Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake) confirmed his committee isn't hearing it today, and said there was "nothing planned yet" regarding its return to his panel. The bill didn't even make it onto the agenda in the House commerce committee.
But there were some stadium rumblings nonetheless.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill authored by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, that would offer the team a loan, rather than a subsidy for a new stadium.
"Seventy-five percent of the citizens in this state, over the last decades, and as recently as November 2010, have said they don't want to support a stadium directly or indirectly with public funds, and to date, they haven't had a voice," Chamberlain said. "The opposition to the bill is a political push. The most powerful people in the state are on the other side, and they'd rather not give any light to this bill, for the people. This is truly the people's bill, because it doesn't shake them down and take their money."
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley called the measure a "false promise that won't resolve the stadium issue," in a letter to the committee. "Neither the team nor the (National Football) League will support this legislation."
Still, it may be the Vikings best hope, as DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk observed of Chamberlain's success.
"It's a stadium bill, and its amendable. So I don't think it would be fair to say that just because Senator Rosen's bill might not have met the committee deadline, there may well have been a stadium bill that met the committee deadline," he said.
Bakk said he had quit going to meetings on the matter, and said that a bill should have been introduced months ago to allow a proper vetting in legislative committees. That said, he wasn't ready to pronounce the effort dead.
"I don't think its fair to say a Vikings stadium is dead," Bakk said. "Nothing's ever dead around here."
House Speaker Kurt Zellers remained equivocal about the matter.
"We have all said that the general fund isn't going to pay for a stadium. Right now, the way the bill sits, that's what backs up if the pull-tabs don't come in. And if I'm blamed for looking out for the taxpayers of Minnesota," Zellers said at his weekly briefing. "How many votes are there? If folks spend a lot more time worrying about that, they'd probably be a lot more productive than whether I'm for or against a bill."
Repuboican Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem's racino bill is heading for the state government and veterans affairs committee on Monday.
Although the proceeds are earmarked for economic development right now, Senjem didn't rule out redirecting them, either to paying back the school shift or a Vikings stadium.
"I'm not going to complicate Sen. [Julie] Rosen's bill," Senjem said. "We've got to shake out the electronic pull-tabs. If its established that they just don't, as I've said earlier, have the horsepower to accommodate the bonds, then maybe it's something to look at. But it's not on the radar screen right now."
And it didn't sound like the rest of the Senate is ready to ride to a stadium bill's rescue, either. Senjem wouldn't commit a trip to the rules committee for a committee deadline waiver.
"We're going to leave it there for the time being, when and if we have a hearing there. When and if it moves out, we'll have to deal with the bill deadline issue," Senjem said.
He also said supporters shouldn't be so quick to criticize Zellers for the slow pace in the House.
"He's behind this bill, frankly, behind the Vikings," Senjem said. "They may have some problems. Like I have some problems. I'm not altogether sure I could vote for the bill today, given my understanding of the electronic pull tab issues."
He said the charitable gambling matter needed a better airing to start with.
"I don't think its been fully assessed, by virtue of the timeline, to really understand the appetite across Minnesota for electronic pull tabs" Senjem said. "I'd like to hear, for instance, from some of the gaming managers across Minnesota. If we do this, are they going to implement the program?"(5 Comments)
Gov. Dayton sent a letter to members of the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee urging them to approve a Vikings stadium bill. The committee is the first stop for the bill and it isn't certain whether the bill will make it through committee. Dayton reminded lawmakers that the financing from the electronic pull-tab is solid despite reports otherwise.
"I believe it is sound, reliable and sufficient to finance the state's share of this project," Dayton wrote. "Anyone who says otherwise is speaking without my authorization and is seriously misrepresenting my position. Futhermore, everyone trying to dismantle this proposal, without offering a better one, is clearly trying to defeat this bill"
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale and Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley urged the committee to pass the bill. He said the Metrodome has outlived its usefulness.
"It's the smallest stadium in the league," Bagley said. "It will no longer sustain an NFL team. We're at the bottom of the NFL in stadium revenues and fan experience."
Several business and labor leaders also signaled their support for the bill.
Mondale told the committee that state's $398 million contribution will be returned by taxes from player salaries, Vikings employees, other teams and sales taxes from the games.
"The state payback in gross dollars over a 33 year period of time would be $450 million more that the state would get back than the state would put in on this particular project."
But several members expressed skepticism about those numbers. Sen. Roger Chamberlain cited studies that said sports stadiums don't generate the expected return on investment.
"I want a stadium, I want you guys to stay here but I think the impact and the return to the state has proven to be zero."
Other critics, including a lobbyist for the Minnesota Family Council, said expanding electronic gambling is bad public policy.
"We're going to build a stadium to a significant degrees on the backs of problem gamblers," Prichard said. "In fact, the state will have a vested interst in having more people become addicted to and spend more money gambling over a 30 year period in order to pay off the bonds."
It isn't certain whether the committee will approve the bill. Bipartisan supporters of the stadium were busy working legislators before the committee started.
Here's Dayton's letter:
Posted at 10:05 PM on March 13, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Opponents of an Arden Hills stadium aren't giving up -- even though the Vikings and just about everybody else has.
The guy with the cap on is petition organizer Dave Brudevold taking advantage of the warm weather today to stand beside Mississippi River Boulevard in St. Paul, wangling signatures from passersby for the effort to put a stadium referendum on the ballot in Ramsey County. That's despite the fact that state officials have all but ruled out the deal the Vikings originally struck to put a stadium in Arden Hills.
Several previous efforts at the Ramsey County charter commission have failed. But Ady Wickstrom, a Shoreview city council member and opponent of the county's plans to host the Vikings, says they're still trying to get the 14,900 signatures they need. If they get enough valid signatures, Ramsey County voters will be asked if they want to ban spending on a professional sports venue without a referendum.
"Our petition drive is going strong," says Wickstrom. "We're at 41 percent of our goal, and things are picking up with the warm weather."
Photo: Erika Nelson
The Senate Local Government and Elections Committee has scheduled the first hearing on the Vikings stadium bill. The committee plans to vote on the measure within two hours of starting the hearing.
The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
Here's the message on the committee page regarding the Vikings bill.
"SF 2391 will be discussed first, with a vote on the bill no later than 2:40," the message said. "Testimony will be limited to those who sign up in advance. Please limit comments to areas of Local Government pertinence, and to 5 minutes or less."
The bill is expected to receive heavy scrutiny. MPR's Tim Nelson reported this morning that committee chair Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, isn't sure how the panel will vote on the bill.
Lawmakers have expressed several concerns. Key among them are whether revenue from the electronic pull-tab proposal will be enough to finance the bonds. Another is whether the plan has the support of the Minneapolis City Council.
A spokeswoman for the House Republican Caucus said the bill will have to go through at least four committees in that body. The bill has been referred to the House Commerce Committee. A hearing on the bill there has not been scheduled yet.
Posted at 5:09 PM on March 9, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Vikings stadium
With Tom Scheck contributing
The Vikings stadium bill is out, and it largely follows an agreement reached last week by the City of Minneapolis, Gov. Mark Dayton and the football team.
The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, calls for the state and city to chip-in $538 million of the $975 million need to build the facility on the Metrodome site. The rest will be covered by the team.
Operating and capital costs will be covered by the city and the team once the stadium is built.
According to the bill, the state will approve appropriations bonds to pay the public share of the stadium. To pay off that debt over 30 years, the state plans to use revenue raised from electronic pull-tab gambling. Appropriations bonds are not backed by the full faith and credit of the state, so they're riskier to investors.
The bill creates a new stadium authority that is on the hook for additional construction costs, but the bill also stipulates that the Vikings can take over construction of the facility if the authority allows it.
The bill also answers a few unresolved questions about the details of the agreement.
For instance, it contains a blanket exemption from the Minneapolis City Charter, which requires voter approval before the city can spend more than $10 million on a professional sports facility.
Further, the bill allows Minneapolis to use extra sales tax funds to renovate the Target Center.
There's also good news in the bill for die-hard Vikings fans: If the team breaks its 30 year lease in the new stadium, Minnesota retains rights to the Vikings name, logo, trophies and memorabilia.
Here are some more details from the bill, by the numbers:
It's a 65,000 seat stadium which could be expandable to 72,000 seats
There are 7,500 club seats (the expensive skybox seats)
The bill requires 2,000 parking spots be within 1 block of the stadium and another 500 spots be with 2 blocks of the stadium.
The stadium will have a fixed or retractable roof.
The stadium authority (which will run the stadium's operations) will sell commemorative bricks. The funds will be used to help pay for the stadium.
The Vikings will have to sign a 30-year lease
If Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf sell the team, a portion of the sale will be given to the state. It starts at 18 percent above the "amount in excess of the purchase price of the NFL team by the selling owner or owners, declining to 15 years" after the stadium is built.
The team will have to sell "affordable tickets," but the legislation doesn't specify what "affordable" means.
Governor Dayton says he's revising his stadium plan to try to encourage charities to sign on to the use of electronic pull-tabs.
The stadium plan uses revenue from electronic pull-tabs to finance the state's $398 million dollar share of the stadium. Dayton said today that he wants give the state's charities an annual tax break of $10 million because earlier officials with the charitable gambling industry said their costs were so high they were unlikely to use electronic pull-tabs. Dayton said he wanted to respond to their concerns.
"The kind of increase that they're going to have in bottom line profits is very significant," Dayton said. "But one of my axioms in politics is that more is never enough. So you think more satisfies people and you find it just whets their appetite for more."
King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, said he was working with the Dayton Administration on the proposal but he had concerns that the tax break wasn't large enough.
"If the number is $10 million, I don't think that gives us the reform and relief we need that will make it work," he said.
Dayton's announcement comes on the same day he's meeting privately with the four legislative leaders to discuss the stadium.
The bill is scheduled to be formally introduced on Monday. Update: You can read the bill here.
Here are some of the documents put forward by Gov. Dayton's office:1 Comments)
State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said today that she submitted her Vikings stadium bill today and it will be formally introduced in the Minnesota Senate on Monday. Rosen also said she expects committee hearings to begin on the bill next week.
"The hope is to bring it to the floor," Rosen said. "We'll start having hearings next week and get it through the proper process and do the due diligence."
Rosen said she's still confident that the Vikings stadium bill has a chance to pass this session. For example she said it has the support of leaders from both parties. GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk have signed on as co-authors. Senjem wouldn't say whether the bill had a chance to pass this session, given that most members don't know the full details of the proposal.
"The good thing here is that it's on board and it's in the process," Senjem said. "We're able to now take it and chew in on for a while and find out what it tastes like."
Senate staffers say the bill language should be available late Friday afternoon.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, told reporters on Thursday that he hoped to introduce the bill in the Minnesota House on Monday.
Next week is a critical step for the stadium because all bills have to clear at least one policy committee before March 16.
The folks that may be footing part of the bill for a Vikings stadium are raising questions about whether they'll show up for kickoff.
Allied Charities of Minnesota is the trade group for Minnesota's $1 billon charitable gambling industry. Executive director King Wilson says they paid about $37 million in taxes on their proceeds last year -- nearly half of the charities' take, in some cases, Wilson says. (That's him at left, with an electronic pull tab machine.)
The trade group originally pitched an expansion of their operations into electronic pull- tabs to put more money on their bottom line, only to find the idea appropriated to fund a Vikings stadium.
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chairman Ted Mondale said today that the state could easily pay debt service on $400 million in stadium bonds with the marginal taxes on new electronic pull tabs. State revenue experts put the proceeds at $72 million a year.
Doubters have questioned that, in part because Minnesota would be the first state in the nation to implement the devices for gambling. There isn't necessarily a lot of history to base projections on. But Mondale said today the debt service would only use a little more than half that figure -- suggesting there's room for error.
But he also questioned why gambling operators should get a tax break when they're making more money.
Wilson responds thusly: He says the extra business could push charities into a higher tax bracket -- nearly 7 percent of their sales. On top of an 85 percent prize payout to keep players coming back, Wilson says there isn't enough left to cover expenses and pay anything to beneficiaries like youth sports.
"We're just not convinced, without some significant tax relief and reform that these are economically viable and that they'll work," he said. "I sent an email alert out last night, and I got several folks that got back to me, basically saying that if we don't get tax relief, we're not going to do the (electronic) pull-tabs."
But he's not backing down, either: "It appears to me to be clear that that the administration isn't open to tax relief. That's their perogative."
And it sounds like chartiable gambling operators may be begging to differ as the stadium endgame approaches at the Capitol.(1 Comments)
Posted at 12:00 PM on March 2, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Two of the key negotiators of this week's deal for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis were taking questions again this morning, in what's commonly known as an "ed board call," the informal, wide-ranging discussions that policy makers often offer to newspaper editorial boards.
And while much of it was boiler-plate detail on the stadium deal, the pair rebutted some of the key doubts about the deal, as it's been floating around in negotiations for weeks. (That's a picture of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, by the way, and the model planners are using for the new Minnesota version.)
Let's start with the money.
Metropolitan Sports Facility Chairman Ted Mondale said the electronic pull-tab financing mechanism for the state's $400 million share is solid, despite questions about gambling revenue projections and the bonds the state intends to sell. Mondale also seemed to be hinting that he's not worried about charitable gambling operators' complaints about their taxes:
"As it relates to the revenue estimates. We believe that the total pot in the first year will be $72 million. There will be a final negotiation when the bill goes through with the bars and the restaurants, but we think their revenue almost doubles. After their revenue doubles they want a tax break? Which would have been the easiest thing in this term sheet to negotiate. So we're thinking at a minimum the state is going to have $62 million in, and we're starting at the high 30s to be able to finance this over the period of time. So if we have to go higher for coverage, there is that revenue from the pull tabs to be able to do that. But at this point, the route is the appropriation bonds, which again, has been used before. It puts the full faith and credit of the state behind it, but we think its almost 2 to 1 on the revenue coming in, and if you look at once this is established in the out years, it's 3-to-1, 4-to-1."
It may be that Allied Charities of Minnesota has a gut-check ahead on their electronic pull-tab bill.
Mondale also explained how the deal will get around the city's charter amendment. Voters in Minneapolis capped spending on pro sports at $10 million in a 1997 referendum.
Mondale said that the city will be bonding for $548 million dollars in appropriation bonds to pay both the state and local share of a new Vikings stadium.
"The city through the local option sales taxes will pay the state back for the bonds," Mondale said. "Amending the special law, we'll have the state collecting and holding onto those dollars. So there's no need to be able to worry about the charter amendment."
The "special law" is the measure that enacted the sales taxes in Minneapolis in the first place, which, according to the state constitution, requires assent from the city which the law effects. That's likely the "city council approval" that Gov. Mark Dayton made reference to at the announcement of a deal on Thursday.
Which brings up a third point the pair addressed today: How does Minneapolis get to "Yes"?
The language in the state's Constitution is kind of intriguing:
"The Legislature may enact special laws relating to local government units, but a special law, unless otherwise provided by general law, shall become effective only after its approval by the affected unit expressed through the voters or the governing body and by such majority as the Legislature may direct."
Here's how Minneapoils Mayor R.T. Rybak sees that working:
"The Legislature will hopefully pass it, and then it will come to the city council, where as I understand it the only part of it the state requires is the Vikings part of it. Then the city has the ability to use those economic development dollars as it chooses. As I've said from the beginning, I need this all tied together as a package with Target Center, convention center and Vikings."
But he confirmed that the city may not actually wait for the Legislature to ask. He said the city is considering a non-binding resolution from the city council in support of a prospective stadium deal.
"While the city doesn't have to act until after the legislature," Rybak said, "Its clear to me that we have to demonstrate our support. So we're exploring ways to get that done."
So keep an eye on that Minneapolis City Council agenda.
Photo: Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.
Arden Hills' prospects to host the Vikings got a boost in a bill this week from Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, and there may be another nod for the Ramsey County bid in the works.
Rep. Tom Hackbarth says he's going to designate the Arden Hills site for his racino stadium bill -- and up Hamilton's bid by including electronic pull tabs, as well. Hackbarth says he's going to reintroduce his racino/stadium bill with the Ramsey County site named as a location as soon as Monday.
"Mine is the racino that will pay for the Vikings stadium, you don't need a local match," Hackbarth said. "It brings in $135 million a year. It can pay for a number of other things as well, such as the school payback, the shift payback... It also says we're going to give some tax relief to the charitable (gambling) organizations."
Likely House stadium bill sponsor Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, says Arden Hills is still on the table.
"I've said all along, I've never eliminated them," Lanning said in an interview today. "If we cannot strike a deal with the city of Minneapolis, then obviously, that's what we have to do, is look at the Arden Hills option."
Lanning also said today that it's going to take some affirmative action from Minneapolis to win approval for its stadium bid at the Capitol. He conceded that Hennepin County won Target Field without a formal vote, but said Minneapolis isn't going to get the benefit of the doubt.
"It has to be, at the very least, a letter from, signed by a the majority of the City Council, saying that 'We support this'," Lanning said. "We need some indication. For us to be putting together something here in the form of a bill, and we don't know if they're going to support this or not -- pretty risky."
There's no sign, though, that a Minneapolis deal is any closer than it's been for more than a week.(1 Comments)
Gov. Mark Dayton is dismissing the latest stadium financing plan floated at the state Capitol. He says a provision phasing out the state's business property tax is a no-go.
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, offered to put up a $300 million loan for a new NFL venue, to be repaid by a 10 percent tax on virtually every transaction within walking distance of the new stadium. That would include tickets, concessions, personal seat licenses, naming rights, signage in and on the stadium, TV and media revenue and stadium rental.
The Vikings would be on their own to come up with the rest of the cost of a new $1 billion stadium. Team vice president Lester Bagley said it's a non-starter. "The bottom line is the bill economics are not workable in this small to midsize market. It would not allow the team to be competitive.''
But Dayton objects mostly to an unrelated provision -- a phase out of state commercial and industrial property taxes through 2022. It doesn't directly pay for a stadium, but Chamberlain suggested it might free up business money to buy sponsorships, advertising, naming rights or other stadium-related business.
"The party of property tax increases is at it again," Dayton said in a statement released this morning. "Some Republican legislators now want to force me into accepting their scheme for eliminating all property taxes on businesses in order to get their approval for a new 'People's Stadium.'"
He said dropping the business property tax would shift the tax burden to other property owners, and would add to tax hikes from the elimination of the Homestead Market Value Credit last year.
Bagley said that the team continues talks with the city of Minneapolis and the state over a proposal to build a new stadium on the Metrodome site.(3 Comments)
The Minnesota Vikings may be prepared to put up 44 percent of the cost of a new $970 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis, under the terms of a deal that could be announced early next week.
Rough numbers were sketched out in a presentation to business leaders on Thursday, and a participant in the meeting tells MPR News that the team has pledged about $425 million to the project.
Several present at the meeting said that planners were hoping to make an announcement on Tuesday.
Mayoral spokesman John Stiles denied an agreement was done. "No deal," Stiles said, in response to media reports that the city, state and team were ready to move forward to the Legislature. "We continue to negotiate through the weekend," Stiles said.
Vikings vice president for stadium development, Lester Bagley, also said talks hadn't finished. "There is no agreement," Bagley said. "Conversations continue, but there is no deal."
The team previously offered $425 for a deal in Ramsey County, but that was contiingent on a stadium getting built in Arden Hills.
Business leaders at the meeting heard that Minneapolis is also standing by its offer of putting $150 million in money up front for a Vikings stadium and $95 million for an upgrade to Target Center. The Timberwolves made an offer last year to put another $50 million into the improvements at the downtown arena.
The Timberwolves did not respond to an inquiry about their role in the city's so-called "3-for-1" deal, which includes the stadium, the Wolves home and the convention center.
The deal is also expected to include a "poison pill" that would eventually strip the city of the proceeds of its hospitality taxes if the Minneapolis City Council doesn't sign off on the deal. That could leave the city itself to shoulder the costs of maintaining and promoting its Convention Center, after the taxes pay off existing convention center bonds.
A participant at the meeting said former Minnesota Wild executive Jac Sperling told the group that negotiators were making progress on terms of a short stay at TCF Bank Field if the Metrodome site wasn't available to the NFL during stadium construction.
'We do not have an agreement yet," said University spokesman Patty Mattern. "But we're very close."
The plan in the works has the state putting just under $400 million from the proceeds of the expansion of charitable gambling into electronic pull tabs. But a spokeswoman for the governor's office also denied a deal was final.
Any stadium agreement would also require approval from the Legislature, where it's likely to face substantial opposition.(1 Comments)
It remains unclear when or if state lawmakers will take up a Vikings stadium bill this session, and now one key leader is floating the idea of waiting for a special session to deal with the issue.
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, told reporters today that a special legislative session might be a good option if a stadium bill doesn't come forward in a timely fashion. Senjem said lawmakers don't want to stick around the State Capitol any longer than necessary, especially if they finish their other work.
"If all we're doing is waiting for a stadium proposal to arise, it would seem to me that we'd recess or perhaps just adjourn and wait for the governor to call a special session once the package was together," Senjem said.
Senjem said his preference is to deal with a stadium bill before the regular session is over. He wouldn't say if a special session would be better before or after the November election.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he thinks Senjem would have a hard time finding many other lawmakers who want a special session, especially in an election year.
"I don't support the idea of a special session," Bakk said. "Members of the Legislature aren't going to support the idea of a special session."
Ramsey County businessman Mike O'Connor says he's got a plan to single-handedly revive the Arden Hills plan for the Vikings stadium.
And he's going to roll it out Monday.
"Hopefully, I've done my homework," he said of the eponymous O'Conner Plan. "But I'd prefer to answer questions about it on Monday."
There are quite a few details, though, on his website. It involves taxpayer funding for the stadium, in return for a chunk of the ancillary development proceeds and a share of the marginal value of the Vikings franchise itself.
The development piece contemplates a 15 percent annual return, which seems pretty handsome for the current real-estate market.
And although the most recent stadium bill at the Legislature has some clawback provisions regarding team value, its probably safe to say that the Vikings would have to think long and hard about splitting their capital gains with stadium funders. The team didn't respond immediately to the plan -- possibly because they're trying to finish negotiations for the plan they already have.
The O'Connor plan also contemplates a $125 million naming rights fee. That's in the same ballpark, literally, as Target Field.
The kicker is a $50 million "options credit spread" scheme, which would also return 15 percent a year (and sounds not unlike the long ago "Sausen Plan" that would have paid for the Twins' new stadium with bond arbitrage. Which might very well have worked, but for the nation's subsequent economic near-collapse)3 Comments)
It looks like the White Earth Nation is going to jump into the stadium fracas this week.
They've scheduled what looks like a press conference on Thursday in Room 125 at the Capitol. We haven't seen the official notice yet, but this request to book the room has the telling phrase "stadium funding" right there in black and white.
The application doesn't offer many details, but the band has been pressing for a casino in the Twin Cities metro, and this handout says the project would be a "bold new solution to fund a Vikings stadium."
The flyer is offering a 50/50 split for the state, with the up-front casino costs paid by the White Earth band. There aren't any numbers on the offer, but presumably those will come later.
The idea isn't entirely new. Tribal chairwoman Erma Vizenor testified at one of last year's stadium hearings before the Senate, and at one point suggested the tribe was interested in building a casino in Arden Hills to pay for a Vikings stadium. That offer mentioned $300 million in annual revenue, split between the state and tribe.
The new effort speaks to the difference between White Earth's "very limited" gaming operations and the more expansive and better known operations of other tribes.
And lo, it looks like there's already some enabling legislation. DFL State Rep. Kent Eken of Twin Valley, and Republican Bob Gunther of Fairmont (he's a constituent of stadium bill sponsor, Sen. Julie Rosen) introduced a lottery expansion into "gaming machines" that looks like it would enable off-reservation gambling under certain provisions.(1 Comments)
Posted at 7:21 PM on February 14, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Vikings Vice President for Stadium Development Lester Bagley said this afternoon that the team would be playing the 2012 season at the Metrodome.
"We won't be sending any letters to the League," Bagley said a day ahead of the NFL's Feb. 15 deadline. That's the latest date a team can tell the league that they plan to play the following season in another market.
The move was widely expected. Officials at both the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Rose Bowl said they hadn't heard anything from the Vikings, making a quick relocation to California unlikely. Rose Bowl officials said they couldn't accommodate an NFL team before 2013 at all.
Bagley said the team is "encouraged by the progress on a stadium" in Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton, during an appearance in Richfield today, said those talks had intensified in recent days, including a conference with Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale this afternoon.
Bagley said there was no deal ready to report. He expects talks to continue.
The Vikings also faced a potential legal challenge to a relocation: the team's Metrodome lease contains a clause requiring them to add another season in the Metrodome. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has contended that missed games in 2010, due to the roof collapse, would keep the team in Minneapolis. The Vikings disputed that, but the point may be moot now that the team has taken a pass on a relocation under official NFL rules.
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, says he thinks the hospitality taxes that pay for Minneapolis Convention Center debt and other activities in the city ought to be ended.
A bill he introduced today would shut off half-percent sales taxes, downtown liquor and restaurant taxes and hotel taxes, as of 2020. That's when the bonds on the convention center are expected to be paid off. Here's a primer on the issue from last year's city budget.
The taxes are expected to raise about $51 million this year and the city has offered about $13 million a year of that to a future Vikings stadium -- although they only have about $11 million on hand, in present value. The biggest chunk of the money right now goes to pay for convention center debt, about $21 million this year, according to a financial analysis before the City Council.
Davids wouldn't say outright whether he'd give the city a reprieve if it committed to a Vikings stadium. "That's a separate issue," Davids said in an interview today. But he did suggest that an alternate use might be acceptable.
Said Davids, in explanation:
I came across a tax that was, I felt, it was overtaxed, if you will. And I don't really want to go to the slush fund business. But it's more than they needed. And so we need to monitor this at the state level and say hey there's plenty in there for what it was supposed to be for so let's back off on it and give the people of Minneapolis some relief.
Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak has suggested this very scenario, warning that the city is at the Legislature's mercy when it comes to the hospitality taxes.
Davids says he expects to hear more when his bill comes up for a hearing Thursday.
Posted at 3:30 PM on February 13, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
This is a big week for the Vikings. According to NFL bylaws they have to tell the league whether they're staying in Minnesota or going somewhere else for 2012 by Wednesday.
Here's the relevant passage from the NFL Franchise Relocation Policy:
The club must give the Commissioner written notice of the proposed transfer, including the date on which the proposed relocation is to become effective, and publish the notice in newspapers of general circulation within the incumbent community. The notice must be filed no later than February 15 of the year in which the move is scheduled to occur. The League will provide copies of the notice to governmental and business representatives of both the incumbent community and the community to which the team proposes to move, as well as the stadium authority (if any) in the incumbent community (the "interested parties")
You can read the whole policy at the end of this post.
But technically, that's just among friends. The league makes the rules, and arguably can break the rules if they're of a mind to do so.
Still, if you're going to leave, that presumes you have a location to move to. And if the Vikings are in fact thinking about eventually kicking off in Los Angeles, they'll have to play somewhere else while Farmers Field or the City of Industry stadiums get built.
Here's what Coliseum general manager John Sandbrook had to say today, when asked if the Vikings had talked to the Coliseum's governing board about playing there in 2012:
That said, there is an interesting passage in the prospective new lease agreement with the University of Southern California:
USC will cooperate with a request by the City, County or State for use of the Coliseum on a temporary basis (up to 4 years) by not more than one NFL team. USC will negotiate in good faith with the NFL to structure a sublease at fair market value; provided that USC will not incur any additional expense or liability and will be indemnified by such NFL team against liabilities resulting from such sublease
That's part of a renegotiated lease between the Coliseum Commission and USC, scheduled to be approved this spring.
But it seems unlikely that the Vikings could go from not talking at all to the Coliseum and telling the NFL they'll kick off there in August in any reasonably short time frame.
Which leaves us with the Rose Bowl, which hasn't seen a Minnesota football team since 1977. That stadium actually hosted five Super Bowl games, the last in 1993. So it can handle an NFL crowd.
But general manager Darryl Dunn has some caveats to add to that. Asked if the stadium is NFL ready, he said in an interview today that "what we would have to do is do an environmental impact report. That would take at least eight months... The earliest an NFL team could play here is 2013."
Add to that the fact that the Rose Bowl is currently undergoing a $154 million renovation. That isn't scheduled for completion until 2014. The project calls for construction to accommodate UCLA games, but it's unclear if they could make way for 10 other home games, as well.
And then there's the NFL notice issue. Here's what Dunn had to say about the NFL playing at the Rose Bowl:
"We have not talked to any teams at all. There's been zero."
The Vikings have hinted that there are "other communities" that have expressed an interest in hosting the team if they decide to decamp from Minnesota. There's always the Alamodome in San Antonio and Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
But in the meantime, it doesn't look like the Vikings will be going to LA, at least for the 2012 season.
Gov. Mark Dayton says he'll make a Vikings stadium deal a priority next year if it doesn't pass this session. Dayton says he's still committed to seeking passage this year but in an interview with MPR News he said he's upset that a financing plan isn't in place yet. He said he wants the Legislature to vote on the measure this session but suggested it will be a priority regardless of the outcome.
"If we don't get it this session, I intend to bring it up next session and I'm optimistic we'll get it then," Dayton said. "I tell people that we'll get it this year or we'll get it next year."
The legislation has been stymied by a failure to get a financing plan in place. Minneapolis city officials are squabbling over whether there's enough support for a plan to build the stadium in that city. Ramsey County officials came forward with another plan today that relies on stadium-related taxes and fees. MPR's Tim Nelson covered that story today and you can read it here.
The most recent estimate by the Minnesota Department of Revenue now pegs the potential state net on a reboot of the state's charitable gambling industry at $72 million annually. That's up from about $42.7 million earlier last year.
Where'd the other $30 million come from?
It's a number of things, according to state revenue commissioner Myron Frans.
The original estimate was based somewhat on conjecture: although the state of Virginia has passed a law authorizing electronic pull tabs, it has yet to be implemented. Florida has some similar machines that are part of the original basis of the Minnesota revenue calculations.
But financial experts and the state's charitable gambling industry have been haggling over exactly what to calculate.
The original fiscal estimate contemplated an old-fashioned twist on the gambling expansion. The proposal includes so-called "linked bingo" that would set up virtual bingo halls in bars.
"Electronic bingo is making a resurgence," says Frans, the revenue commissioner. "One of the drivers is that you can get some pretty high payouts... You have the chance to make a couple thousand if you win.''
Last year's estimate split new gambling: half to electronic pull tabs, half to electronic bingo. But forecasters now think it'll be more like 5-to-1 in favor of the pull tabs, and will bring in more money.
That's one factor in the change.
Another is the virtualization of charitable gambling: "One of the assumptions from the first revenue estimate we saw back in March or April said that 95 percent of paper pull tabs would be gone in three years," says King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota. That's him with an electronic pull tab machine in the picture above. "We told them the day that (estimate) came out, 'That can't be right.'"
The new estimate says that paper pull tabs will likely take a smaller hit -- the new estimates put it at a 20 percent decline. That enduring draw is the second factor in the change to the revenue estimate.
The third is a little more complex: Frans says finance experts are rethinking some of the outside factors that affect charitable gambling.
"We lost a lot of charities because of the (economic) downturn and the smoking ban," Frans says. There are about 2,700 charitable gambling sites with pull tabs now. He says there used to be about 250 more. "We think some of those will come back," Frans says, if electronic pull tabs are authorized by the state legislature.
What that will mean for a stadium is unclear. Both fiscal notes contemplate no change in state tax law, which is what charities were seeking when they proposed electronic gambling in the first place.
"We have some charities paying 50, 60 percent tax rates," says Wilson, head of the gambling trade group. He says his membership wants to roll back a tax hike dating back to 1989. "You look at the average corporate tax rate, maybe 8.9 or 9 percent, and some of our folks are paying five or six times what for-profit businesses are paying."
How much of the $72 million in new revenue from a gambling expansion can go toward the state share of a stadium may depend on how much of that money goes toward tax relief for charitable gambling operators.
Read the revised revenue estimate here:1 Comments)
The latest Public Policy Polling survey says 53 percent of those polled approve of the job Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is doing. Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature are faring much worse. 23 percent of those polled view them negatively. The poll says Democrats in the Legislature are winning in a generic ballot against their GOP opponents but the DFL approval numbers aren't much better than Republicans. Just 31 percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of Democrats.
The poll also shows that the constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman is close. 48 percent of those surveyed say the support the ban on same-sex marriage. 44 percent are opposed to it.
59 percent of those surveyed also don't support any public money going to a new Vikings stadium but that's only if the team stays in Minnesota. Public opinion appears to shift if public money is the only way it will keep the team in the state. 46 percent of those polled say they'd support public money for a stadium if "that's what it took to keep the Vikings in Minnesota."
Read the full poll here.
The vision of a new NFL stadium didn't get much clearer after nearly three hours of talks today. The Vikings owners, Minneapolis officials, lawmakers and the governor and his staff met for the first time since Gov. Mark Dayton said the Metrodome was the only viable option for a stadium site this year.
Strangely, there didn't even seem to be consensus about that today.
"We're not ready to commit to a single site," said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, after the meeting ended this afternoon. She also said that Ramsey County could sweeten its bid yet this week, if they could come up with an alternative to new taxes.
She also left the door open for racino and electronic pull tabs, despite Dayton's doubts about the racino option in recent days.
Dayton sounded undaunted about the Metrodome option, calling on the city of Minneapolis, the state and the team to roll up their sleeves anew.
"You know, everybody's aware that this has to move apace, and that's why the staff of the city and the Vikings and the sports facilities commission are going to be working diligently full time, all the time, around the clock, until we get this nailed down," Dayton said. "And then we'll get the principals back together again, with the goal of getting this resolved if its resolvable."
The Vikings, for their part, seemed to be getting the message. Although he offered a concilatory nod toward the team's agreement to build in Arden Hills, owner Zygi Wilf spoke encouragingly of the Metrodome site as well.
"We're still in the process of doing our due diligence," Wilf said after the meeting. "There's a lot of aspects involved, including how we would address the seasons that we would be playing at TCF. So there's a lot of questions still to be answered, but we're making progress on getting to know the site much better.''
The team owners and Ramsey County officials are scheduled to meet again in St. Paul in about an hour.
Governor Dayton sits down tomorrow with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf and state lawmakers. The hope is that they craft a financing plan for a new Vikings stadium. Dayton said this week that the only way a stadium plan will pass this session is if the measure rebuilds the stadium on the existing Metrodome site. Vikings owner Mark Wilf, however, wouldn't commit when asked whether he supports plans to build there.
"There's a lot of details to work through and a lot of issues to talk about, " Wilf said. "So rather than to get into any specifics, I'd prefer to just work through and see what the political will of the governor and the Legislature on how this thing moves forward. Our number one objective is to get a stadium solution for our fans and the Vikings that is exciting for not just the Vikings but the community at large."
Wilf made his comments to reporters at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's Annual Dinner. He and his brother, Zygi, attended the event which featured Gov. Dayton and the four legislative leaders. Dayton, who said earlier in the day that the Legislature should hold an up-or-down vote on the stadium, spoke little about the stadium at the event.
Lawmakers, however, didn't get off so easily. KSTP's Tom Hauser, who moderated a legislative panel, directly asked GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk whether an up-or-down vote should be held this session. Senjem initially said such a vote should be held but then hedged a bit when asked if it would be held "this session."
"I got 37 members that this thing has to churn through, so I'm not sure how it's going to turn out," Senjem said.
Zellers also didn't commit to holding a vote. He said he believes a similar demand in the 1990s delayed the Twins stadium for several years.
"I don't think it's fair to Mark and Zygi [Wilf] to wait again for nine or ten years," Zellers said. "I don't think they have the patience for this. I know their lobbyists don't but I think it's really important to make sure it's a process that is thorough and if you say yes or no now I don't think that's fair to them."
Thissen said he thinks there should be a vote this year.
"There are going to be Democrats for it and Democrats against it," Thissen said. "Now it's in the hands of the people who hold the gavels which are the Republicans in the Legislature."
Bakk said he'd like to see the Vikings stadium bill pass, but he also criticized the 1,600 business leaders in the room for failing to lobby for the plan.
"The State Chamber has not put their shoulder to the wheel on this," Bakk said. "It's only going to happen this session if the State Chamber stands up and says 'This is important to us.'"
One key sticking point will be whether the stadium financing plan will include money to upgrade the Target Center. Mayor Rybak says the plan is essential to win city support. GOP lawmakers say including the upgrade will cost them votes in the Legislature.
Governor Mark Dayton has told the Vikings that if they want a stadium bill passed this year "its going to have to be the Metrodome."
That's according to spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci, responding to reports earlier in the day that a second Minneapolis site, near the Basilica of St. Mary, has been ruled out. She said the governor told Vikings owners by phone that their options had narrowed again.
The Vikings confirmed the conversation with Dayton today.
"Our ownership is extremely frustrated," team vice president Lester Bagley said of the situation.
And apparently, the Wilfs will get the chance to express that personally. Tinucci reports that Mark and Zygi Wilf are coming to Minnesota on Wednesday to talk about the stadium situation -- Metrodome or no.(8 Comments)
Stadium negotiators now say they have "grave concerns" about the viability of the Linden Ave. site for a prospective new Vikings stadium. That's the 30-acre option just north of the Basilica of St. Mary.
Several people familiar with the talks, but who did not want to be named, said that new doubts have arisen over whether the city of Minneapolis has the political support to sell a key part of the site -- the city's Currie Avenue public works facility.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R- Moorhead, is expected to be the House author of a stadium bill. He says he's still waiting for a definitive statement about whether or not Minneapolis is willing to sell.
"We understand that there was different legal opinions." he said in an interview today. He said one would require a 9-vote majority on the council to sell the property for a stadium. Another would require a simple majority.
"We've known all along that there are some key issues there that may prove to be problematic and may really make that site an impossible thing to pursue," Lanning said. "But I have not had any official word from the city of Minneapolis yet, even though I've heard through other sources that there may be some definitive answers to at least one of the questions that we knew was there."
He stopped short of saying the site was dead: "I haven't been told that it's officially off the table yet."
But he also but pointed out that the city may only be one of the "significant" obstacles to the site.
"The Basilica is another very important issue," Lanning said. "I don't think anyone wants to do battle with the church. That's not a very welcoming kind of challenge to have. But those who have had conversations there know its going to be a tough sell there.''
City council president Barbara Johnson did not return calls about the potential snag. A spokesman for Mayor R.T. Rybak would not confirm whether the land sale issue was blocking Linden Avenue.
The Minneapolis council is set to meet on the issue on Thursday, and could show their willingness -- or lack thereof -- to make way for a stadium then.(3 Comments)
Governor Mark Dayton said this week that Ramsey County needs to come up with a "Plan C" for its bid for a Vikings stadium.
Reviewing the stadium bids submitted to him last week, the governor said Wednesday that the half-percent sales tax initially proposed by the county wasn't going to get a pass from the Legislature. State law requires a local referendum, and opponents are already well into a campaign to stop it.
An analysis distributed by the state says food and beverage taxes will like face the same hurdle, namely a referendum requirement and no legislative exemption.
The governor said the county needs to come up with a third way to stay in the stadium game.
But the county board agenda for next week makes no mention of any stadium. It's the last meeting before the Legislature convenes for 2012-- literally by hours.
And a key county commissioner says there's good reason. They have nothing more to talk about.
Victoria Reinhardt, of White Bear Lake, is the board's immediate past chair and heads the budget committee.
"What other option is there, as far as something that's local option?" Reinhardt said when asked today about next week's agenda. "There's sales tax. There's property tax. All of that is off the table. For good reason it's off the table. So no, I do not see that there's a way to come up with a local share to cover Ramsey County's portion.''
She DID say that she's very keen on the Arden Hills site, where the county and the Vikings have a handshake deal to build a $1.1 billion dollar stadium.
"My concern has always been that this is the largest Superfund site in the state. And we need to clean it up and we need to get in back on the tax rolls. And we need to do it now," Reinhardt said. "This is our opportunity to do it, and I am hopeful and the governor has stated that he's willing to step up to the plate, for Ramsey County, to get that done without the stadium.''
Vikings booster and county commissioner Tony Bennett, of Shoreview, agreed with Reinhardt that there isn't going to be another offer of local money to answer the governor's call. The only other option is property taxes, and even Bennett rules that out.
He's still hoping, though, for a Hail Mary: that a gambling expansion will pick up the entire public tab for a stadium.
''We haven't heard what's going to happen with the racino. The governor says pull tabs are it. There's money there, and they could do what should be done, which is spread the load around Minnesota a little bit more, because they are the Minnesota Vikings,'' Bennett said.
Commissioner Jim McDonough, another stadium supporter, says county officials think lawmakers have given local taxes a pass on a referendum dozens of times, and that that's all Ramsey County is asking for now -- to be treated like others have been.
"There's a lot more hurdles on the other side of the river," said McDonough, of St. Paul, referring to a charter amendment that caps Minneapolis contributions to a stadium at $10 million. "The governor and the legislature seem to prefer to jump those hurdles."
And while he says Ramsey County's bid may still be a fall-back for the rival Minneapolis sites, he and his fellow commissioners are going to stand pat now.
:"There's nothing more we can do," McDonough said.(1 Comments)
Posted at 3:33 PM on January 17, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chairman Ted Mondale volleyed back to his former Minnesota Senate colleague John Marty today: there's no bias in studies on a new stadium, contrary to Marty's assertions earlier this year.
In a letter released today, Mondale said it's Marty who has his math wrong, not the sports facilities commission or Conventions, Sports and Leisure, its stadium consultant. He said other stadiums show much larger proportional subsidies than the proposed Vikings deal that seems to be headed for the Capitol.
The Vikings have offered to pay for about 40 percent of a $1.1 billion dollar stadium in Arden Hills.
He also said the numbers are legit, even though CS&L works for the Vikings, as well. You can read Mondale's response below:
Posted at 9:33 AM on January 13, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
There was A LOT of talking about a Vikings stadium yesterday, by nearly everyone who'd ever thought about the subject.
But you probably didn't note the presence of a lesser known, but critical cog in the political machine: Jan Parker.
The four-term Ramsey County commissioner represents the county's northwestern suburbs. Her district abuts the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site, where the county is planning to build an Arden Hills stadium.
But her proximity isn't what matters. It was her presence yesterday as commissioners Rafael Ortega and Tony Bennett walked the county's stadium bid -- with a 3 percent food and beverage tax included -- into the governor's office.
That's her talking up the county's bid, at the presser afterward.
The county board has yet to directly take up the stadium issue, and Parker has in the past voted along with Bennett, Ortega and East Sider Jim McDonough to keep the bid alive in procedural votes.
But as of yesterday afternoon, it looks like she's on board for the full ride -- making for a four-vote bloc that could win formal approval by the county's elected governing body. That would answer affirmatively the question raised by Senator Julianne Ortman at last year's stadium hearings: whether there's local political support for a stadium.
It was no accident she was at the Capitol, Bennett said today. "We would have brought four, but it might have violated the Open Meeting Law.''
Which for now, makes Ramsey County the only stadium bidder with tangible indication that it could put up the votes.
The city of Minneapolis today submitted a plan to state officials that puts a new Vikings stadium at the site of the Metrodome.
In a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Julie Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and city council president Barbara Johnson say that while they continue to talk to the Vikings about another possible site on Linden Avenue, the city prefers the Metrodome site, or "Downtown East" as they call it.
"Minneapolis' Downtown East proposal is the best option for Vikings fans, the Minnesota Vikings, other collegiate, amateur and civic users and Minnesota taxpayers," they write, because it offers the best location, requires no new taxes, puts cash on the table immediately and provides for the future competitiveness of three revenue-generating facilities of statewide significance.
The plan would use the taxes that currently pay for the Minneapolis Convention Center to help finance a new stadium and upgrade the Target Center.
They say they would also be open to a downtown casino as an alternative funding mechanism.
Here's their plan:
Posted at 1:15 PM on January 12, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Ramsey County officials say they've upped the stadium ante today, with a new agreement with the Vikings and more local money to help pay for the project.
The stadium proposal signed by county board chairman Rafael Ortega says the county will commit to a 375 million dollar contribution to a proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. That's a 25 million dollar increase over the deal the county initially reached with the team last May.
In addition, the county's bid includes an updated agreement with the team. In it, the Vikings put their proposed contribution at 425 million, up from their initial 407 million dollar offer. The team had mentioned the improved offer before, but put it in writing with the county's bid today.
It's the first of what are expected to be several stadium bids submitted to Gov. Mark Dayton today, ahead of his stadium deadline. Spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci says he will be looking them over in the next few days.
You can read the agreement here:
Gov. Mark Dayton says he has not seen Shakopee's new proposal for a Vikings stadium, but he's willing to consider it.
Dayton set a deadline for officials in Ramsey County and Minneapolis to present their finalized stadium proposals by Thursday evening. The mayor of Shakopee is now offering another stadium site, which is located near two state highways. Asked today about the late entery in the stadium sweepstakes, Dayton told reporters that he just learned about the Shakopee proposal. But Dayton said he'll consider all options.
"I don't think anything I've said would preclude that," Dyaton said. "Again, this is brand new to me, so I don't know what the -- I haven't looked at it at all. But sure, if they have a serious proposal and they want to submit it by by 5:00 tomorrow, I'd certainly be willing to look at it."
Shakopee officials are expected to outline their stadium plan late today during a Capitol news conference. The Vikings continue to prefer the Ramsey County site in Arden Hills.
Posted at 4:34 PM on January 9, 2012
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: Vikings stadium
One of the most vocal stadium opponents in the Minnesota Legislature is accusing the head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission of manipulating numbers and lobbying on behalf of the Vikings.
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, took his latest shot in a letter to Ted Mondale, the chair of the commission. Marty accused Mondale of using "biased, and at times, inaccurate information" during a Senate hearing last month. He said the chairman tried to show the proposed levels of $665 million in public money and $425 million in private money are similar to the levels used to build other recent NFL stadiums. In an interview, Marty said the Vikings are actually seeking the biggest ever public share.
"I really don't think Minnesotans want to have the record largest subsidy for any sports team in history," Marty said. "And the sports facilities commission and a lot of politicians seem to think that's perfectly okay."
Marty also scolded Mondale for lobbying for the public subsidy rather than trying to negotiate a bigger private share.
Mondale did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Mondale fired back at Marty, whose allegations he said were not accurate.
"We'll respond to him, but I think his allegations that somehow there's something afoul here are just absolutely wrong," Mondale said. "And I think the debate would be better served if we kept to the facts."
Mondale said that he's trying, at the direction of Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative authors, to negotiate a deal that will work for the state, the team and the local partner.
By Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
Officials from Ramsey County have responded to Gov. Mark Dayton's deadline for stadium proposals.
The governor sent letters to Minneapolis and Ramsey County Thursday. Both are bidding to host the Minnesota Vikings with a replacement for the Metrodome.
Ramsey county board chairman Rafael Ortega says the county already has a complete package to offer. County officials struck a deal with the team in May to build on the site of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition plant in Arden Hills.
"We've been at this for a year. We've been vetted by everybody. We have a purchase agreement with the federal government. We have site control," Ortega said. "Our focus has been those 500 acres of polluted land — a great opportunity to finally do something with them. We create jobs and we put 170 acres back on the property tax rolls."
State officials rejected a sales tax proposal to help pay for the project. County officials have offered a 3 percent bar and restaurant tax instead.
Dayton asked local officials to include as much detailed information as possible, including the proposed means to financing a local share of the project. The proposals should include details about the Vikings' proposed share of the stadium financing. Dayton is collaborating with the two key stadium bill architects, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont.
Dayton expects that the comparison of proposals will advance the stadium process.
"It is now time to finalize the proposals of Arden Hills/Ramsey County and the City of Minneapolis, so that the Legislature can compare them, decide between them and act to make one of them a reality," Dayton wrote.
Dayton asked local officials to include as much detailed information as possible, including the proposed means to financing a local share of the project.
Dayton discussed the deadline during an afternoon news conference. He predicted that the comparison of proposals would advance the stadium process.
"I think the facts will speak for themselves in large part," Dayton said. "Some people have already made up there mind, they want this site or they want that site. But I think for general purposes among the Legislature and probably among the general public is what's the off? What the proposal? How good a deal is it? And I think one of them will show probably to be a better option than the other or the others, and that will facilitate everyone's decision."
Dayton said he expects the proposals to also include details about the Vikings' proposed share of the stadium financing. He said he was working in collaboration with the two key stadium bill architects, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont.
A letter from Ramsey County Charter Commissioner Peter Hendricks has some intriguing details about the county's prospects for bringing the Vikings to Arden Hills.
A county deal struck with the team in May called for a half-percent sales tax to service about $350 million in debt for a local share of construction costs. That got sidelined -- first by hearings over a proposal to put the plan to voters, then by legislative unease about exempting a deal from a state-required referendum.
The county, along with state Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, have since taken up a second strategy -- hospitality taxes. They're weighing a 3 percent restaurant and bar tax and maybe other levies as well, to service stadium debt.
Lanning and other supporters contend such taxes don't require voter approval, bypassing the sales tax difficulty of the original Arden Hills plan.
Not so fast, says attorney Peter Hendricks, a member of the Ramsey County Charter Commission -- and one of the commissioners who voted AGAINST a charter change that would have required a stadium to be put on the ballot.
The trouble, he says, is that the county is legally required to borrow money through an ordinance mechanism, which makes it subject to a vote and potential recall, under the county's own charter.
"A local food and beverage tax will face the same obstacles as a local sales tax option if Ramsey County intends to issue bonds to contribute $350 million in capital contributions," Hendricks writes.
And here's where the plot thickens.
Hendricks suggests there may be an end-run in the works: "It now appears that there is a concerted effort by some Ramsey County politicians and others to seek legislative approval for a Ramsey County food and beverage tax that will be used to finance bonds issued by a political subdivision other than Ramsey County."
Nobody's copping to the offer yet. Tiny Arden Hills, potential host of the stadium, isn't likely to sign off on a $350 million bond. "Uh, no," were mayor David Grant's exact words.
But in an interview, Hendricks suggested that some more muscular entity, like the Metropolitan Council (chaired by former Ramsey County Commissioner Susan Haigh) could step in. Hendricks says that's simply his read of the Ramsey County letter from December, rather than any first-hand knowledge of stadium finance prospects.
You can read the rest of his letter here:4 Comments)
Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega are proposing a countywide 3 percent sales taxes on food and beverages to pay for a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. They say the tax will raise $24 million a year to finance $350 million of the $1.1 billion stadium.
"We continue to believe that the Vikings are a statewide asset and our preference is for a statewide funding solution for the people's stadium," Ortega and Bennett wrote in the letter. "However, because we believe in the viability of the Arden Hills site, we are willing to put forth funding alternatives beyond the earlier sales tax proposals that were removed from consideration by state officials earlier this year."
Ramsey County was pushing for a half cent sales tax increase to pay for the stadium but Republicans in the Legislature insisted that voters approve the measure. Both Bennett and Ortega said there is precedent to allow local governments to increase food and beverage taxes without voter approval.
"As you know, various revenue sources have been authorized in previous legislation for numerous cities and counties in Minnesota. This includes authorizations for special local taxes on food and beverages, liquor, lodging, entertainment and admissions that do not have local referenda requirements by state statutes."
Ramsey County and the Vikings are pushing to build the stadium in Arden Hills. They say it's the best option to give fans a "game day experience." Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has been pushing for the new stadium to be built in Minneapolis. He suggested relying on an expansion of gambling and sales tax money collected for the city's convention center.
Gov. Dayton has said he doesn't have a preferred site location but would like to see the Legislature address the issue this session.
Here's the letter from Bennett and Ortega:2 Comments)
One of the chief authors of the Vikings stadium bill says Ramsey County need to come up with other options for how to pay for a new stadium. Ramsey County officials were pushing for a local option sales tax to finance the stadium but lawmakers were cool to the idea because it would have needed voter approval.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, says the county should be looking at other options to finance a portion of the roughly $1 billion stadium.
"Ramsey County has made clear that there will be no property tax revenues generated for this," Lanning said. "There will be no local option sales tax available but you've got other taxes, hospitality taxes and other forms of raising revenue, that local units of government can decide to put in place without a referendum requirement."
Lanning has said some form of gambling expansion will also have to be on the table but he doesn't think it will generate enough to finance the stadium. Vikings officials say the Arden Hills site in Ramsey County are their first option.
Lanning says the earliest supporters will release a bill will be January(2 Comments)
From MPR's Tim Nelson...
White Earth tribal chairwoman Erma Vizenor is in town to testify to the stadium finance hearing this afternoon. Word has been that they're going to make an offer to help fund a Vikings stadium.
People familiar with the situation say the tribe will offer to build a new casino in the Twin Cities that would earn $300 million in net revenues, to be split between the state and the tribe.
The casino would have about 150 table games, and approximately 4,000 machines. A single-pager making its way around says the deal would also ban any more Twin Cities casinos be built until the White Earth casino mortgage is paid off.
Bill Haas, lobbyist for the White Earth Tribe, says the offer is legit and the tribe plans to bring it forward in today's hearing.12 Comments)
It's been a nagging question behind many of the leading proposals to pay for a Vikings stadium: If gambling revenues are used to pay the debt service on a new stadium, will anyone actually loan the money?
It's an important question, because when it comes to bonds, Minnesota's money actually comes in several tiers: the highest is general obligation debt service, the state's tried and truest revenue source. Pledged revenue and legislative appropriations come next.
But new gambling proceeds, be they from a racino, a downtown Minneapolis casino or new pull-tabs, don't really fit any of those categories. Those funds are not a known or guaranteed revenue source because they'd be brand new.
That has bond underwriters quietly expressing their reluctance about betting on gambling. Some suggest gambling revenue would have to be discounted by as much as 50 percent to calculate the available debt service.
That may require "credit enhancement" from the state to make the bonds affordable, which is to say, a pledge that taxpayers will co-sign the stadium mortgage, even if gambling pays the bills.
Part of the testimony at this afternoon's Senate stadium hearing is supposed to include a presentation from Minnesota Management and Budget on how this might actually be accomplished. So-called appropriation bonds are one solution. They'd have the Legislature paying the debt service with 30 years of appropriations, backfilled by the gambling proceeds flowing into state coffers.
Here's the one-page explainer MMB will be handing out at today's hearing:
Minnesota Bond Fact Sheet
King Banaian probably knows more about the economics of sports stadiums than most people in the state. Banaian, an economics professor at St. Cloud State University, said people in his profession have moved past the argument that a stadium will provide a long-term economic benefit.
"The economics pretty much point in the other direction," Banaian told MPR News.
Banaian also said he doubts that the number of jobs that Vikings owners and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton say would be produced by the stadium (an estimated 7,500) will materialize.
"If all he wanted were more jobs, there are better ways to do it," he said.
Banaian speaks on good authority. He teaches a class on the economics of sports and spends at least one class lecturing on the stadium issue.
"The next class will be in late December," he said
Banaian has supplied stadium economic opinions to more than his class. He said he's given studies to voters. And GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean said Banaian has advised him on the stadium debate.
Dean and other members of the Minnesota House may rely more heavily on Banaian as the Vikings stadium debate heats up. That's because Banaian is also a first-term Republican representing St. Cloud in the House.
And Despite the economic evidence that stadiums don't produce a long-term economic benefit, Banaian said he isn't sure how he'll vote on a bill that would finance a new Vikings stadium.
"I never imagined in a million years when I started teaching sports economics that someday I might be casting a vote on a stadium bill," Banaian said.
Banaian said he's weighing more than the economic impact of the stadium. He said he's also listening to voters who are passionate about the team.
"When you're in the classroom and it's a strictly a research question, it's pretty easy to come down on this," Banaian said."When you actually are the person facing the voters and hear the stories of your grandfather and your father who watched the Vikings as well, that has real value."
Banaian, who won his House race by a razor thin 13 vote margin in 2010, said he's listening to voters and talking with them about the issue. He said public opinion is mixed on the stadium issue.
No matter how he votes, Banaian said he won't support any claims about a positive economic benefit from a new stadium.
"If you're going to make a statement for the stadium, it has to be about the quality of life that comes from an NFL city," he said.
Banaian said his experience in the stadium debate may prompt him to write a book about the subject after he leaves the Legislature. He also said the stadium debate will also provide material for classroom lectures.
He may need it. When asked if he expects his students to lobby him on the stadium bill, Banaian chuckled and said, "They already are."(5 Comments)
The Minnesota Senate has released the agendas for two informational hearings on the proposed Vikings stadium.
Senate Committee on Taxes and the Committee on Local Government and Elections will hold the first joint hearing Nov. 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The agenda includes background and site information. Representatives from the Metropolitan Sports Commission, Vikings, Ramsey County/Arden Hills and Minneapolis will offer testimony. The public will also be allowed to testify at both hearings.
On Dec. 6, the Committee on Taxes and the Committee on State Government Innovation and Veterans will hold a joint hearing from 12:30 p.m. To 6:00 p.m. The focus will be on state and local support for a stadium, as well as financing options. Lawmakers have invited NFL officials to testify. They will discuss current sources of revenue, including arts and cultural funds and Minneapolis convention revenue. New sources of revenue will also be addressed. That list includes electronic pulltabs, racino gambling, sports memorabilia sales tax, NFL income tax surcharge and ticket surcharges.
Discussion of the Block E casino proposal has been added to the agenda for Dec. 6.
Posted at 2:54 PM on November 16, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Senate Republicans say they will hold two hearings on a proposed new Vikings stadium.
The first will be Nov. 29 and the other Dec. 6.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, is a stadium bill sponsor in the Senate and says she hopes a public airing will move the process forward.
"It's important to get the public input, and that's what these hearings are going to be about," Rosen said. "Number 1, get the right information out about why we have to keep this valuable asset, why the dome does not work currently, what are the various options for this stadium site. The pros and cons. That'll be the first hearing. Second hearing will be the funding sources and how the mechanics of that is going to work,"
Rosen, however, said that she doesn't think there will be a bill drafted for the hearings. The Senate hasn't named a time or location for the hearings, although Republicans said three committees will participate. The House hasn't indicated it's ready for any public hearings on a Vikings stadium.
Gov. Mark Dayton said he welcomed the Senate's effort and that he'd meet with Rosen tomorrow.
"I commend her and the Minnesota Senate for scheduling the two hearings," Dayton said after a short meeting with Arden Hills officials. "That's a very positive step forward, and hopefully those hearings will present a clearer picture to at least the senators what the options are and where to go from here."
The Minnesota Vikings are standing their ground as the stadium debate grinds on: in a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton just released by the team, they say they're sticking with their plan to build in Arden Hills.
Period. End. Of. Story.
But if you read between the lines, there's also an out: Following their pledge of "more than $400 million specific to the Arden Hills location," the letter says this:
"Any other location would not justify anywhere near the level of commitment we have made in Arden Hills. By building at this site, the State can leverage the maximum amount of private dollars toward this publicly-owned project."
For the record, "anywhere near the level of commitment" is not zero.
The Vikings have actually mentioned a number at an alternative site before. At his Nov. 1 press conference at the Capitol, team vice president Lester Bagley said the team had discussed a contribution of "$250 to 300 million" when they'd been talking with officials in Minneapolis about sites in that city.
He wouldn't say whether that offer still stands, or whether anyone in Minneapolis even countenanced such a deal.
But as Ramsey County plans to put a purchase agreement for the Arden Hills site to a vote on Tuesday, the Vikings seem to be penciling out a price -- at a minimum -- for what will happen if the Ramsey County plan fails.
They also sent along their latest stadium renderings, which we've posted before. We invite you to have a look again and try to determine what kind of a roof they might have in mind. Fixed? Retractable? None? Click for a larger version.
Here's the letter the team just sent:1 Comments)
Posted at 8:30 AM on November 11, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
The Ramsey County Charter Commission, which decided against putting a proposed stadium tax on the ballot, has the issue back on its agenda on Monday.
But it isn't clear if the 17-member panel is going to take another run at the issue.
Commissioner Rod Halvorson, with a parliamentary fake-out at the end, joined the 10-6 vote against his own proposal last month, making him eligible to ask for reconsideration.
Now, he's exercised that option: Halvorson has asked to put the matter back on the commission agenda for the Nov. 14 meeting. But Halvorson's not saying IF he'll actually ask for another vote.
In an email followup to coverage of the meeting, Halvorson has added this:
"Under the procedures of the open meetings' law, an agenda must be published in advance of the Charter Commission meeting Monday night. Therefore, I notified the Commission staff of my right to bring up a motion to reconsider the charter amendment that I proposed at our last meeting. Now that the issue is on the agenda, I would be allowed to make such a motion and also offer an amended version of my charter amendment. I have not yet decided on what action I will take Monday night."
The point may be moot, since in essence, he may have already won: the attention the Ramsey County Charter Commission brought on the referendum issue this fall may have played a factor in the state's decision to rule out a sales tax hike for a Vikings stadium.
Ramsey County says it has struck a deal with the federal government to purchase the land for an Arden Hills Vikings stadium-- and that it'll be under budget and cleaned up when the deal gets done.
County officials delivered a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton's office this afternoon. It says the county has a formal Offer to Purchase from the General Services Administration for a 430 acre Arden Hills stadium site, and that it's "within the $30 million budgeted for the acquisition and clean up of the property."
The letter doesn't give a firm dollar figure, but says the county will be allowed to deduct the price of cleaning the place up from the purchase price.
There's a second clause as well: the county says it has a fixed price quote from "an experienced local contractor with substantial experience on the TCAAP property" that "caps the demolition, hazardous waste abatement and remediation costs at a dollar amount that is significantly less than the amount of credit available to the County against the GSA's proposed price."
And finally, the letter says that the offer commits the cleanup contractor to have the stadium footprint available within 9 months of signing a contract.
That's in stark contrast to the doubts raised in an October report from the Metropolitan Council that pegged the land acquisition and clean up costs between $23 million and $70 million. The upside of that range was described as a significant risk factor in calculating the cost of the deal.
"We believe the county has now addressed the primary cost concerns raised by your analysis," the letter concludes.
Read it for yourself here:10 Comments)
Posted at 3:10 PM on November 7, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Or part of them, anyway.
She's drafted legislation calling on the NFL to lift its ban on public ownership of league clubs. The NFL now limits ownership to 30 parties. Kahn says the team could sell stock and put the proceeds towards a new stadium.
She proposed a similar plan for the Twins back in 2005 -- an idea that at least made it to the floor of both the House and Senate that year, as the baseball team rounded third toward its own new stadium. Her proposal was thrown out at the plate.
She says the system is working in Green Bay, where the Packers are planning a $130 million stock sale by the end of this year to pay for Lambeau Field upgrades.
Barring a surprise change of heart by the NFL, Kahn says she'd like to see a few dozen people with "deep pockets" buy up the 70 percent of the team that NFL rules currently allow. And as a last resort, she's pitching what might be called an NFL derivative, if Wall Street hadn't made it a dirty word: sales of "certificates of participation" by the NFL could raise money and give holders a potential veto of any team relocations.
"I'm not holding my breath," says the Minneapolis DFLer.
The 800 or so folks that answered the Minnesota Poll for the Star Tribune might be inclined to see the Vikings stay in Minneapolis. But the team isn't leaving any doubt about where it wants to be.
The Vikings rolled out a new video this weekend, promoting their stadium plans. It's mostly fan footage and highlight tape, with a little nostalgia on top for good measure.
But there is a nugget of news in there. The video has passing glimpses of what they'd like the new place to look like. They're new, confirms team spokesman Jeff Anderson.
Take a look for yourself, and note the DUAL downtown skylines in the background. Click on the image for a larger view.
Needless to say, it's likely to be some different in reality -- if nothing else, it's a pretty good bet that it won't say "Minnesota Sports Complex" on the outside.
Here's a little closer view of the parking lot. You might even be able to recognize some of those tailgaters photoshopped into the scene. Click on the image to supersize it.1 Comments)
Supporters of the well-worn plan to allow slot machines at Minnesota's horse racing tracks say they want to be part of the solution for a Vikings stadium.
Sen. Al DeKruif, R-Madison Lake, delivered a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton's office today signed by 24 legislators who support racino gambling. He said another seven legislators are also confirmed supporters. DeKruif says the state's estimated share of $135 million a year could help pay back a school funding shift and pay off the bonds for a Vikings stadium. He insists that racino is not an expansion of gambling.
"It's just an alternative," DeKruif said. "So, it's an alternative going to either Iowa or Wisconsin or other neighboring states, or the Indian casinos. And it gives people an opportunity to support paying back the school shift and help potentially keeping the Vikings in town."
Racino supporters appear to be far short of the votes needed to actually pass a bill. But DeKruif said the proposal is still a work in progress, and they are trying to convince others to join the cause.
Here's the letter:1 Comments)
Governor Dayton says he's open to asking the state's tribal leaders for a contribution to pay for a new Vikings stadium.
Dayton's spokeswoman told MPR News that Dayton's deputy chief of staff met with lobbyists representing the Mille Lacs Band of the Ojibwe and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Those tribes run two of the largest tribal casinos in the state. Dayton told MPR News that he hasn't spoken directly with tribal leaders but he endorsed the idea of asking them to make a contribution to help pay for a stadium.
"That's a possibility," Dayton told MPR News. "And in fact, it was evidently discussed last night at the working group of a number of legislators and they may initiate that. I think it's a good idea but I have not done it myself."
Dayton said lawmakers were also going to approach lobbyists for the tribes to "get an idea of what they would support and what they would oppose and what they would most oppose."
The state's tribes are lobbying against efforts to build a casino in downtown Minneapolis or allowing slot machines at the state's two horse tracks. Those are two of the options being considered as ways to pay for a new Vikings stadium.
John McCarthy with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association says he doesn't think tribal leaders are open to helping pay for the Vikings. He said many of the state's tribes can't fund all of their needs.
"I don't think they have really seriously thought about it because it's not something that they can do," McCarthy said. "The wherewithal is simply not there. They don't have that kind of revenue to be spending on a Vikings stadium when they don't have enough revenue to provide enough housing, and health care and education and public safety to their own folks on the reservation."
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community gave $10 million to the University of Minnesota a few years ago to help build the U of M's stadium. McCarthy, however, said there is a difference between that donation and any suggestion to help pay for a new Vikings stadium.
"It's a totally different issue," McCarthy said. "A state university versus independent, very wealthy people in the Vikings. It's like apples and oranges there."
Several Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature are opposed to allowing for slot machines at the state's horse tracks or building a casino in downtown Minneapolis. The state's tribes have given heavily to Democrats in recent years.
Dayton, however, hasn't shied away from suggesting that an expansion of gambling is needed. He said during the 2010 campaign for governor that a state owned and operated casino could help balance the state's budget.
"I think for there to be a government-protected monopoly on that in the metro area is not in the best interest of the people in Minnesota," Dayton said during the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce debate in August of 2010.
"We need the revenues. Competition is good for retailers as my family has learned. They're good for politicians and I think it's good for casino operators as well."
One option that the state's tribes won't lobby against is to allow the state's charities to move from traditional paper pull-tabs to electronic pull-tabs. McCarthy said they don't like the idea but don't consider it "an expansion of gambling."
MPR News took a look at the revenue projections that say electronic pull-tabs could generate as much as $42 million a year and said the estimates are on shaky ground.
Gov. Dayton's spokesman Bob Hume says Dayton will meet with GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and GOP Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk at 3 p.m. today. The group will discuss financing options for a new Vikings stadium. They will also discuss Zellers e-mail that said he will not support a special session to address the stadium. Zellers sent the private statement to House Republicans last night. It caught many off guard who are watching stadium talks, since Zellers has not said that publicly.
With MPR's Tim Nelson...
Gov. Dayton hopes to meet with GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and other legislative leaders to discuss an e-mail Zellers sent to GOP House members yesterday. The e-mail said Zellers does not support a special session to pass a financing plan for a new Vikings stadium. That could scuttle any efforts to get a Vikings stadium bill passed this year, because the Vikings want a deal in place before the team's lease with the Metrodome expires in January. Zellers has not returned repeated calls to comment about his e-mail.
Dayton initially called a news conference for 11 a.m. to discuss the e-mail but canceled it after he spoke privately with Zellers.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, and Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, both say they support Zellers decision to oppose a special session.
"I think the speaker reflects the will of the majority of the House of Representatives," Garofalo said. "Clearly any bill's going to require bipartisan support and as of right now, I'm not aware of any House Democrat who has stated his support for a special session."
Meanwhile, Minnesota Vikings officials say they're disappointed by the Zellers e-mail. Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team doubts the wisdom of putting off legislative action until next year's short legislative session.
"The strategy of avoiding the stadium issue in Minnesota has not worked," Bagley said. "It only gets more costly, more difficult to resolve, especially if the state allows the lease to expire with no action, Bagley said. "The lease expires in less than 90 days, and at that point we will be the only NFL team without a lease. So we believe this needs to get into focus before the lease expires at the end of the season."
The team has proposed a $1.1 billion dollar stadium in Arden Hills, although that was thrown in doubt yesterday, when Dayton and legislative leaders ruled out a sales tax contribution to the deal by Ramsey County.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers says he won't support a special session in November to pass a bill that would finance a new Vikings stadium. The move is a major barrier for stadium backers since Gov. Dayton insists he won't call a special session without prior approval from legislative leaders.
Supporters of a new stadium say they were hoping the Legislature could pass a Vikings stadium bill before the November forecast is released. There have also been concerns that the Vikings' lease with the Metrodome expires before session starts on Jan. 24.
Zellers, from Maple Grove, says he has told Gov. Mark Dayton "repeatedly" that he would not support a special session for a Vikings stadium. That's according to an e-mail Zellers sent to the GOP caucus yesterday.
Here's the full e-mail, which was obtained by MPR News:
Dear GOP Members:
I am writing to provide you with an update regarding the Vikings stadium issue.
This afternoon, Governor Dayton agreed to drop his earlier support to exempt a referendum for both Arden Hills and Minneapolis. As you know, I have been insistent that an imposition of a sales tax must include, at a minimum, a referendum.
Again, I want to be clear about my position regarding a special session for a Vikings stadium. I have repeatedly told Governor Dayton that I will not support a special session for a Vikings stadium. This issue can be addressed during the regular session. I will continue to communicate this message to the governor, legislative leaders, the public and media.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Speaker Kurt Zellers
State Representative, District 32B
463 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
Editor's Note: Prior to this e-mail Zellers has been tepid about the need for a special session for a Vikings stadium but he hasn't come out and said directly that he would not support a special session to solve the stadium issue.
Gov. Dayton and the four legislative leaders say there isn't support in the Legislature to exempt Ramsey County or Minneapolis from holding a referendum on a sales tax increase to pay for the Vikings stadium.
Officials on both sides of the river had proposed a sales tax increase to help pay for the new stadium. Ramsey County proposed a half cent sales tax increase to raise $350 million for a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said a sales tax increase of 0.35 percent in Minneapolis could help pay for a stadium on one of three sites in his city. Rybak, however, also proposed a downtown casino as a way to raise the city's share of the stadium.
Dayton says he is "now actively assessing and discussing with the team other financing options." He plans to release his own stadium proposal next week and wants to call a special session for the week of Nov. 21.
Here's the statement from Dayton, GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk:
Statement on Vikings Stadium talks
Saint Paul--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."
# # #
Two Republican lawmakers who oversee the state's Legacy Amendment money say they think other funding sources should be considered to finance a new Vikings stadium.
Some GOP lawmakers have suggested using up to $60 million a year from the Arts and Culture portion of the Legacy Fund to pay for a stadium. The money comes from a higher sales tax approved by voters in 2008.
Republican Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen and Republican Representative Dean Urdahl say it's a bad idea to spend the money on a stadium.
"In 2011, I was given the privilege to serve as the chair the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee," Ingebrigtsen said in an op-ed. "I vowed that I would do all I can to uphold the constitution and do what voters intended in 2008 and not raid the Legacy funds to offset our $5 billion deficit. We were able to stay true to the voters' intentions and passed legislation that mirrored their intent. However, the temptation to raid dedicated funds may have returned.
Recently, there have been rumblings in the media that Legacy funds from the arts portion of the amendment may be used to contribute to a new Vikings stadium. As chair of the committee that provides oversight for the Legacy funds, I adamantly oppose this and will vote against any proposal designed to use them."
Urdahl told MPR News that he's encouraging legislative leaders to look at other options.
"In this business you never say never about anything," Urdahl said. "But it should be something that we should put way down on our list. I think there are other better ways to do it."
Urdahl chairs the Legacy Funding Committee in the House. Governor Dayton is planning to release his Vikings stadium plan next week. He hopes to call a special session for the week of November 21st to address the Vikings stadium issue.(2 Comments)
Gov. Dayton appeared on TPT's Almanac tonight and said there seems to be consensus growing around allowing bars and restaurants to move from paper pull-tab tickets to electronic pull-tabs.
"Electronic pull tabs has real possibility," Dayton said on Almanac. "Again, I can't speak for 201 legislators who will have to make this decision, but that one seems to have better possibility than anything else that has been proposed so far."
Dayton was careful to note that no head count has been done on members of the Legislature. Dayton met privately with legislative leaders today for two and a half hours.
Supporters of electronic pull-tabs argue that the measure would increase the level of charitable gambling in Minnesota. An analysis of charitable gambling says the activity has been on the decline in recent years. Nonpartisan researchers say they expect the level of charitable gambling to increase if bars and restaurants can move from a paper pull-tab game to electronic pull-tabs.
House researcher Pat McCormack said an analysis of the change could generate up to $42 million a year. He said estimates depend on the tax break given to the charities. Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, is the chief author of the bill. His proposal was to make the proposal revenue neutral (charities would receive increased revenue in the form of a tax break) but the size of the tax break can be adjusted to bring in more revenue.
Supporters of the measure say electronic pull-tabs can also thread the needle of winning legislative support from both parties. The state's tribal casinos are neutral on the issue of electronic pull-tabs. The powerful lobbying group has lined up against efforts to put slot machines at the state's two horse tracks and a new casino in downtown Minneapolis.
Dayton says he intends to release his proposal to finance a new Vikings stadium in the week of Nov. 7. He wants to call a special session for the week of Nov. 21.
Here's a revenue analysis of Kriesel's bill (remember it's based on being revenue neutral).
Legislative leaders stretched an hour long meeting about a stadium into more than two hours of discussion the Vikings fate this morning.
Gov. Dayton says there was no "breakthrough moment" in his behind closed door meetings with legislative leaders. Dayton, who briefed reporters along side of House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, said they talked a variety of financing options but declined to identify them. He also didn't specify whether the stadium should be built in Minneapolis of Arden Hills.
"We're looking at the various options, and discussing the tradeoffs that are involved, and also identifying the additional pieces of information that we need before we can make a decision, Dayton said. "You can't ask people to make a decision when they don't have all the facts. We've definitely clarified some of the remaining pieces of information, and and tasked members of our staffs to develop that information. There's no breakthrough moment to discuss, because we haven't reached that point."
Dayton says he'll release a stadium plan the week of Nov. 7 and hopes to call a special session for the week of Nov. 21. GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said the decision on a special session is left to Dayton.
"I wouldn't say that we're ready for that at this point," Koch said. "But that's the governor's call and we're going to continue discussions and keep working."
The Minnesota Vikings say they want to build the stadium in Arden Hills - that plan includes a half cent sales tax increase in Ramsey County. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is pushing to build the stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
Dayton and GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers were also careful to note that they are neutral on whether to use Legacy Amendment money to finance the stadium. GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told MPR News on Thursday that she's open to using Legacy funds to pay for the stadium.
Zellers declined to say whether the talks got them any closer to a final deal. Instead, he said there were plenty of things to discuss like the three new proposed sites in Minneapolis.
"This is a complicated process that is going to take a creative solution," Zellers said. "That takes time."
Dayton said he'll meet again with legislative leaders next week.(7 Comments)
Several supporters of allowing the state's two horse tracks to operate slot machines are pushing to be included in the Vikings stadium discussion. Sen. Al DeKruif, R-Madison Lake, says he and other supporters of the so-called Racino bill believe the measure will pay for part of a new Vikings stadium and pay back some of the K12 school payment delay used to balance the state's budget.
"There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes," DeKruif said. "I do think there is enough money to do both, pay back the school shift and make the payments on the bonds."
Racino is one of several measures being floated to pay for a new Vikings stadium. Governor Dayton says he's listening to all ideas before he releases his plan the week of Nov. 7. DeKruif said he believes allowing slot machines at the state's horse tracks is less controversial because gambling already occurs there.
"Gambling in Minnesota - like it or not - is here to stay," DeKruif said. "It's a choice tax. It's an avenue to give the economy a shot in the arm through the construction trades, the horse industry which is a large part of our economy."
Several of DeKruif's colleagues lined up in opposition to any expansion of gambling to pay for a Vikings stadium. They argued that allowing even more gambling in Minnesota will increase addiction to gambling and crime caused by problem gamblers. They also argued it will make the state more inclined to rely on gambling expansion in the future.
"It's a tax on either the desperate or the mathematically impaired," Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said. "And to make the state of Minnesota act like a bookie or a pit boss is simply not the role of government."
Dayton and legislative leaders will meet tomorrow morning to discuss the stadium issue.(6 Comments)
The AFL-CIO, a coalition of more than 1,000 labor unions, has come out in favor of building a casino in downtown Minneapolis. The labor federation, which is also backing a Vikings stadium, sent out a news release earlier today saying the so-called Block E casino will benefit the state. The casino has been mentioned as a way to finance the Vikings stadium. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has suggested tapping money from the casino to pay for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis.
Union support could help convince skeptical Democrats to vote for the expansion of gambling. Several have said they will oppose any expansion of gambling in Minnesota.
Here's the AFL-CIO's statement:
"We need to do everything we can to get more Minnesotans back to work and our economy moving again," said Shar Knutson, President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO. "The renovation and operation of a casino at Block E will create a significant number of family-sustaining jobs many Minnesotans so desperately need."(1 Comments)
The Minnesota AFL-CIO currently supports constructing a new stadium to ensure the Vikings stay in Minnesota. The labor federation has not endorsed any specific site.
"Given the number of funding options being debated, the Block E casino option is a way to both fund the project and create jobs," added Knutson. "Working people are watching and waiting for legislators to take action on this great way to create jobs."
The Minnesota Historical Society is urging their supporters to contact Gov. Dayton and the Legislature and ask them to not use Legacy funds to pay for a new Vikings stadium. The action comes less than a week after MPR News reported that some Republicans in the Legislature are looking to tap part of the Arts and Heritage portion of the Legacy Amendment to pay for the stadium.
Gov. Dayton hasn't completely ruled out using the funds to help pay for a portion of the state's contribution to the $1.1 billion stadium.
The threat of tapping up to $60 million a year for the Vikings Stadium has prompted concern from the Historical Society. The group, which receives funds from the Legacy Amendment, sent out an e-mail to supporters today urging them to take action on the issue:
While this concept is contrary to both the intent of the voters and the language of the constitutional amendment, it seems to be getting some consideration and should be taken seriously.
Please take a few moments to call the Governor as well as your legislator at their office, home, or both to express your opposition to using Legacy funds for a Vikings stadium. If you are not able to talk to your legislators directly and need to leave a phone message, please also send them an email to express your opinion. Make sure to mention that you are a constituent.
Voters amended the Minnesota Constitution in 2008 to increase the state's sales tax by 3/8ths of a percent and dedicate the money to the outdoors, clean water, parks and trails, arts and cultural activities.
Several members of the Legislature have objected to the idea. Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, says he'll sue to prevent any attempt to use the funds for a Vikings stadium. DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook also said the measure has little support in his caucus.
"It would be very difficult to find Democratic votes for that," Bakk told MPR News. "Less than ten. Maybe less than five."
Minnesota Public Radio is one of hundreds of groups that receive money from the Legacy Amendment.
Dayton and lawmakers are looking to put together a package that could finance a stadium for the Vikings. Dayton says he'll release his plan the week of Nov. 7.(1 Comments)
A bipartisan group of legislators will join with religious leaders and a group that organizes against gambling to speak out tomorrow against any efforts to expand gambling to pay for a new Vikings stadium. Sen. David Hann and Rep. Ann Lenczewski will join members of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition and Minnesotans Against Gambling Expansion. The group will make their announcement at a Thursday morning news conference but sent out a news release on Wednesday.
"We're glad these lawmakers are joining with us and speaking out," said Rev. Doug Mitchell, chair of the JRLC Board and a minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. "Increasing state dependence on gambling would exact a toll on those who can least afford it. Studies show that the social costs are just too high. As a minister to a downtown congregation I am particularly concerned about the impact that a casino would have on our neighborhood and community."
The JRLC is an interfaith coalition representing the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Minnesota Council on Churches, Islamic Center of Minnesota and the Jewish Community Relations council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Both Hann and Lenczewski have been long-time critics of any expansion of gambling. Lencewski has worked to defeat any proposals that would put a casino at the Mall of America. Hann has also long opposed any expansion of gambling. He authored a bill in 2005 to abolish the lottery.
Several groups are lobbying for a casino in downtown Minneapolis or for the expansion of slot machines at the state's two horse tracks to help pay for a Vikings stadium.
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, waded into the Vikings stadium debate today by saying he doubts the House Taxes Committee will vote for any stadium proposal that includes a tax hike to pay for the stadium.
"The Minnesota Vikings are obviously an important asset to the state, but many in Houston and Fillmore counties have told me that they don't want any statewide tax raised to help build a new facility," Davids wrote in an e-mail to supporters."If the governor chooses to call a special session, it's going to be interesting to watch the process move forward."
Davids is chair of the House Taxes Committee which will almost certainly have to hold a hearing on any Vikings stadium bill.
Gov. Dayton says he intends to release his stadium plan during the week of Nov. 7. Ramsey County is proposing a half cent sales tax increase to pay for $350 million of an Arden Hills facility. The Vikings are proposing to spend more than $400 million on the facility. Under that plan the state would have to come up with $300 million.
Several ways to finance the state's portion of the new stadium have surfaced in recent weeks. The ideas include an expansion of gambling, the use of Legacy Amendment money, a ticket tax or a fee on sports memorabilia. Davids suggested Dayton shouldn't bother proposing a tax hike.
"I look forward to working with the governor on this issue and promise to give any stadium proposal a fair hearing," Davids said. "But knowing the makeup of the Taxes committee, I can almost assure him that if the stadium plan contains new taxes, it will face an uphill battle for approval."
Republicans in the House and Senate have not released a stadium plan. Dayton says he wants to call a special session for the week of Nov. 21 to resolve the issue.
Mortenson Construction sent a letter to the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission saying, in effect, "Yes, we can."
That's in response to a report earlier this month from the two agencies calling a proposed 2015 completion date for the Arden Hills plan proposed by Ramsey County and the Vikings "aggressive" and "unrealistic." Along with a letter, the company released a proposed construction schedule.
It has a proposed start on Nov. 28, 2012, and finish date of Aug. 27, 2015.
See it for yourself below. Note that footnote: "Legislative Approval 11/30/11".
Here's the letter that company vice president John Wood sent along with the schedule:
Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, said last week that he's been resuscitating plans to fund a new Vikings stadium with a plan that would allow slot machines at the state's two horse tracks. And now he says he's got the paperwork to prove it works.
Hackbarth asked the state to release a fiscal note on his so-called Racino bill, outlining how much money the state might net if it authorized trackside slots. The answer? A lot.
"It's $137 million a year, that we have to spend, and we can pay not only the state's portion, the $300 million, but you can also assume that we can pay the $350 million that Ramsey County was going to be on the hook for," Hackbarth says. "We can do the $650 (million) out of this...And then you've got money left over."
Hackbarth suggested the Racino legislation would provide $27 million for a new St. Paul Saints stadium and will allow lawmakers to pay back a portion of the K12 school shift used to balance the state's budget.
Here's the paperwork itself -- be warned it's about 30 pages long. Hackbarth says the operative number is on the first page -- listed in the FY15 column in the "New Fund" row. Hackbarth says would be the Vikings stadium fund.
As far as we know, this is the note's public debut. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association's executive director, John McCarthy, says he's heard about the note, but hadn't seen it yet.
McCarthy says, however, that he's seen state-sanctioned gaming notes before:
"People actually involved in the gambling industry see things a little differently," he says. "I don't know that they're taking into account competition or other factors..."
The bottom line, McCarthy says, is that Racino won't be what state officials are hoping for.
One problem for Racino backers is how many votes the plan would garner from Democrats. DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said his caucus isn't inclined to support any expansion of gambling. He said fewer than five Senate Democrats would be likely to support a Racino bill or a bill that would build a casino in downtown Minneapolis.
MPR's Tom Scheck contributed to this report.
From MPR's Tim Nelson...
With the Vikings stadium debate still unresolved at the Capitol, it looks like fans of the team took the opportunity to do a little tailgate lobbying this weekend in Minneapolis.
That's 'Save the Vikes' founder Cory Merrifield at bottom right, with GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch sporting a natty Vikings scarf.
No word on whether they won any points with Koch on behalf of the team.
It looks like the meeting today between Koch, her legislative colleagues and Gov. Mark Dayton, floated by the governor last week isn't happening. Word.is it may happen Friday.(2 Comments)
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers sent an e-mail to Republican House members this week to update them on the Vikings Stadium issue. Zellers wrote in the e-mail that both he and GOP Senate Majority Amy Koch expressed concern to Gov. Dayton that a Vikings stadium bill could be passed by the Legislature. He said the weak economy and the Vikings opposition to allowing Ramsey County residents vote on a half cent countywide sales tax will make it difficult to pass the Legislature.
Zellers isn't the only Republican who isn't embracing a special session for a stadium. GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean and Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, told MPR News that a special session should wait.
Gov. Dayton said he wants to call a special session for the week of Thanksgiving. He said he'll present his preferred Vikings stadium plan in the second week of November. Dayton (and others) have argued that not acting on the stadium means the Vikings could leave Minnesota when their Metrodome lease is up in January.
Here's the e-mail from Zellers to GOP House members:
As you may know, Governor Dayton requested a meeting yesterday with legislative leaders to discuss the Vikings stadium situation. I attended the meeting, along with Rep. Morrie Lanning, and I am writing to provide you with an update.(3 Comments)
The meeting lasted for over one hour and there was discussion about potential support for a Vikings stadium bill and Special Session. Sen. Koch and I made it clear that it would be difficult to support a bill given the status of the economy in addition to the insistence of the Vikings that the local financing plan must include a half-cent sales tax increase - without a referendum - in Ramsey County.
During the meeting, Governor Dayton unveiled his idea of calling a Special Session right before Thanksgiving, which was not well received by the group. Unfortunately, despite the tepid response, Governor Dayton decided to give the media this timeline even without the support of the four caucuses.
In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
WASHINGTON - Gov. Dayton is three weeks away from offering his plan for a new Vikings stadium in Ramsey County. Today, DFL Rep. Betty McCollum organized a meeting in Washington, DC between county and federal officials to discuss details of how the U.S. government might transfer the site that's under consideration, the former Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills that's now operated by the National Guard.
According to McCollum, the meeting focused on issues such as where the boundary lines between the stadium parcel, sites for future development and a smaller National Guard facility might be, as well as a proposed wildlife corridor and park space. She expected the county and federal officials to reach an agreement about those boundaries by next week.
"When this project advances, the investments made will go a long way to secure the long-term economic well-being of the entire Twin Cities Metropolitan area," said McCollum.
Of course it's still up to the Legislature and governor as to whether and how the project advances.
The big meeting between the NFL and MBD took only about a half hour today at the Capitol, and it seems to have made about as much progress as the last seven months have. The topline: no breakthroughs on stadium deals.
The league's executive vice president Eric Grubman (who, if memory recalls correctly, made his last public comments in Minnesota in the chilly and deflated Metrodome) did the talking for the NFL. He was joined by another veep, Neil Glat.
Gov. Mark Dayton spoke for a few minutes immediately following the talks. He didn't add much, although he did up his deadline ante:he said if a deal didn't get done this fall, it could be three years before a deal gets done.
"It's just too easy and too petty to play the blame game," Dayton said. "And If people want to get this done, now is the opportunity to do so. If they want to play political games, and try to score poltical points for 2012 or 2014, I think the people of Minnesota deserve better than that."
Here's what the governor had to say: Listen
Grubman didn't have much to say about the standoff here in Minnesota, other than to say that the league feared a stalemate for the Vikings, and that the other owners wouldn't tolerate that for long. For those of you following along at home, he used the word STALEMATE, which is precisely the term cited in NFL regulations as a factor in relocation of NFL teams.
"I think its very obvious the NFL wants to be in Los Angeles," Grubman said. "We now have two sites. We believe both those sites could be financed. One of those sites has landmark legislation that streamlines the process. I don't know if its shovel ready, but its close... So the missing element is now a franchise. In my memory, this has been the first time all the elements besides a franchise has been assembled."
If you want to hear everything he had to say, click here: Listen
Gov. Mark Dayton will be on Morning Edition with Cathy Wurzer this morning, following a meeting on the Vikings stadium in his office yesterday.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers were there, as was DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen was out of town, but the caucus was represented by Deputy Minority Leader Deb Hilstrom and Minority Whip Terry Morrow. Also on hand were Metropolitan Council chair Susan Haigh and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chair Ted Mondale.
Here's the crux of what Dayton said about the November 23rd deadline he gave the Legislature"
"My view of the situation is that there are all of these ideas and proposals and people for and people again, and its become a circular process where, without a deadline, and without without legislators knowing that they have to vote on a date certain on a stadium plan, that we won't have a plan. Conversely, it's not appropriate or fair to ask them to vote on a plan without them knowing what it is. So, to try to force these questions to resolution, so that there is a definitive proposal, one that is supported by the Vikings, by the state, myself included, and by the local partner, this process, I believe, is the way to do so."
You can listen to the full audio 21 min. of Dayton's press conferencehere.
Ramsey County Charter Commissioner Peter Hendricks was one of the 10 "no" votes that sank a stadium referendum effort on Tuesday night in St. Paul.
(Clarification here: he cast a no vote on a proposed charter amendment that would have required a referendum on county funding for pro sports -- not against the stadium itself. It's complicated.)
But Hendricks told fellow commissioners that the charter commission wasn't charged with setting public policy for the county, and that they were treading to close to that line, by his estimate.
Others cited his argument during the debate this week, even suggesting that they might invite legislative action to curb Ramsey County's home-rule charter if opponents used it to throw up a roadblock to the Vikings proposed new home in Arden Hills.
That said, Hendricks doesn't think the Vikings or lawmakers have heard the last of Ramsey County citizens. He points out that voters can put any deal the county signs up for a post-facto vote.
Hendricks also suggests that there would be a "high probability" that there would be a court battle between the county's home rule rights and any legislative waiver of a referendum on a stadium tax.
He's not saying who he thinks might win that.
But court cases and legal surprises have proven key points in stadium development before, like the land acquisition for Target Field, and Harry Crump's order for the Twins to play ball -- literally, in 2002.
Here's the letter Hendricks sent today:2 Comments)
Posted at 5:10 PM on October 11, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
The Vikings say they're deferring to Ramsey County residents regarding testimony to the Charter Commission Tuesday night. But the team tells the17-member commission in a letter that putting the stadium before voters will delay construction until 2013 and will cost an additional $110 million. The letter, signed by Vikings vice president Lester Bagley, goes on to say, "Neither the taxpayers nor the team can afford such a major delay caused by adding this referendum provision."
Here's what Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said the team is sending to the charter commission:
The Charter Commission has said it could vote tonight on whether to ask voters if the county's home-rule charter should be amended to require a referendum on any major league sports funding.
That would put the matter on the ballot in November 2012, and could set up a second vote to actually approve a stadium tax. Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky says the two votes could theoretically be put on the same ballot.
But opponents say the mere promise of a vote could make the whole matter moot.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said during his Monday news conference that wide receiver Bernard Berrian called Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, to apologize. Berrian and Kriesel got in a Twitter spat on Sunday over whether Berrian was open during yesterday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Anytime u wanna watch the film with me. Not just one game but all of them," Berrian wrote to Kriesel. "and if not sit down n shut up!!" Berrian wrote in another tweet.
Kriesel is a Vikings fan and co-author to a bill that would provide public financing for a new Vikings Stadium. Frazier said he expects Berrian to "handle things the right way."
Here's the q and a from Frazier's news conference that focused on Berrian:
Q: Bernard Berrian came out on Twitter last night and got into some sparring matches with fans and implied that he hadn't gotten the ball as much as he wants in four years. Have you talked to him about that? Do you discourage forms of communication like that via social media?
A: Yeah, I have talked to Bernard and we do, as a matter of fact, Bob (Hagan) and some of our PR people actually talk with our team prior to at least when we come to training camp just about social media and what our relationship should be with social media. It's something that we've talked about, something we'll continue to deal with and talk about and Bernard kind of knows where we stand on that issue and we'll move on from there.
Q: One of the things that Bernard sent to the state lawmaker was telling him to "sit down and shut up." He happens to be the co-sponsor of the stadium bill, your reaction to that?
A: I do know that Bernard called to apologize for the exchange and that was encouraging. We want to make sure that our focus is on football and trying to win football games. I think going forward he'll handle things the right way.
Q: Do you worry that an 0-4 start will affect the momentum for a stadium?
A: I would hope not. We need a stadium, there's no doubt about that. There's no question about it. I hope that our fans and constituents across the state understand the importance of it. We're going to do all we can, we are doing all we can to get our season turned around. Whether we are 15 and whatever or 0-4 at this point, hopefully it doesn't interfere with the fact that we need a new stadium.
You can read Frazier's full news conference here.
The big talk at the State Capitol this year is whether or not Governor Dayton will call lawmakers back for a special session to address a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
Things aren't going too well on the public relations front for the Vikings. The team is winless after four games. The Ramsey County Charter Commission also got an earful from angry constituents who urged the commission to approve a move that would require voter approval of a countywide sales tax that would pay for the stadium (a move that some lawmakers say would sink the Vikings chances). There are also reports that the Vikings could pull up stakes and move the team to Los Angeles.
Vikings Wide Receiver Bernard Berrian isn't helping the team's efforts.
Berrian criticized Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, on Twitter for questioning Berrian's characterization of today's game.
"If you want to follow a hilarious twitter account, try @B_Twice (Bernard Berrian) who says that he's open a lot and should get the ball more," Kriesel wrote on Twitter.
Berrian quickly took issue with Kriesel.
Kriesel, who lost both of his legs while serving in Iraq, is one of a handful of state lawmakers who have publicly advocated for a new stadium for the Vikings. He is also a co-author to the Vikings stadium bill. The Vikings have also posted an interview with Kriesel discussing the stadium efforts on the team's homepage.
Kriesel, who is active on Twitter, took the exchange in stride. In one tweet, he said he was amused by the criticism and said he deserved it for ripping him. In another, Kriesel, a vocal fan of the Vikings, may have also questioned Berrian's playmaking ability.
"I don't expect Berrian to care if I'm a stadium supporter or not. He won't be in the NFL when the stadium opens," Kriesel wrote.(11 Comments)
The Taxpayers League of Minnesota says 79 percent of the respondents to its paper-ballot poll in the State Fair said they wanted a referendum on a sales tax for a new Vikings stadium. Presumably, the guy at left would have been a no.
The poll was admittedly unscientific, according to League president Phil Krinkie. He said the referendum query was one of four questions on a half-sheet questionnaire at the League's grandstand booth. There were, he said, "lots of people sort of nonchalantly walking by, and they'd see 'Stadium Survey,' and they'd make a quick turn and want to fill out the survey."
Krinkie himself has spoken out repeatedly against taxpayer subsidies for a new NFL stadium.
But he says that the thinks their is some validity to the response: "There were people at the state fair who came up and expressed, you know, "I live in Hennepin County and they ran right over us and didn't give us a chance to vote (on the Twins stadium deal)."
Ramsey County is mulling a vote on its plan to devote a half-cent sales tax to a proposed stadium in Arden Hills.
The Taxpayers League asked three other questions about the Vikings, as well. They included: 1) Do the Vikings need a new stadium? 2) Should state revenue be used to finance a new stadium? 3) Should local taxpayers (i.e. city or county) help pay for a new stadium?
Krinkie said they're still tabulating the poll results on those questions. He said they got about 4,100 responses, and are counting them all by hand.
(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)(4 Comments)
Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter this week to Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh requesting her agency's help in evaluating the proposed Minnesota Vikings stadium site in Arden Hills.
The governor's office released the letter today. Dayton said that he now wants to sharpen the focus on the proposal and address remaining issues.
"I would like to ascertain the potential risk, if any, of the proposal and suggest ways to mitigate or eliminate any exposure to the public, Dayton wrote. "At a minimum, an analysis of potential risks should include, but not be limited to, an examination of the requirements of an Environmental Impact Statement and Alternative Urban Areawide Review, remediation needs, transportation needs, costs and cot-overrun exposures, scheduling issues, funding projections, and permitting permitting and approval issues."
Dayton has said he would be open to calling a special session to address a Vikings stadium bill. The governor hs not set any specific timetable, but in the letter he wrote that "time is of the essence."
The Vikings said a meeting last month with Los Angeles real estate developers was more about bringing a little L.A. to Minnesota than moving the Vikings to southern California.
Team VP Lester Bagley said the Vikings management was thinking about asking a Los Angeles development company to run a new stadium, much as they already do with the Target Center in Minneapolis and several other high-profile venues around the country.
But the Orange County Register is putting a different spin on the matter today. According the paper, billionaire developer Philip Anschutz is looking to buy into an NFL franchise with an eye toward bringing the league back to L.A. for the first time in 16 years.
His AEG company is proposing to build a new NFL venue, and have already sold the naming rights to Farmers Insurance for a reported $1 billion if two teams play there. Here's what it looks like on the Farmers Field website.
"St. Louis, Jacksonville, not extensively, certainly Oakland, San Diego, Minnesota are still in the mix," AEG president Tim Leiweke told the Register. That's ominous talk as a deal with the Vikings and the state of Minnesota could be headed for an impasse.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said yesterday that she and House bill author Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, could join the governor in demanding final details on a stadium deal as soon as Tuesday. A tentative deal struck between Ramsey County and the Vikings in May has them moving to Arden Hills, but the state says their plan is short $131 million to pay for road improvements needed to handle traffic for the stadium and expected development around it.
Bagley says the team is shopping a solution around the Capitol and met with Rosen yesterday.
"We're 100 percent behind getting this deal done in Arden Hills, and we think we can get it done this year," Bagley said today.
He said the team had not talked to Leiweke since the May meeting and stood by his earlier contention that the conversation was chiefly about bringing in AEG to manage a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota.(2 Comments)
Well, that didn't take long.
Just a day after the Legislature adjourned without a stadium deal for the Vikings, team officials were meeting with representatives from AEG, the Los Angeles outfit that's proposed Farmer's Field in L.A.
They were spotted at a downtown Minneapolis hotel. It wasn't what you think, says Vikings vice president Lester Bagley.
The meeting was with former Timbervolves VP, and now AEG CEO Tim Leiweke. His company runs the Target Center, as well as a host of other venues. The company developed LA Live, a 4 million square foot, $2.5 billion dollar downtown LA sports and entertainment complex.
"The discussion about Los Angeles was about LA Live, that sports entertainment model that they created there," Bagley said of the meeting. "We're trying to re-create that type of energy at the Arden Hills development if we can."
Bagley said AEG might well be a candidate to do that in Arden Hills themselves -- bringing LA to the Vikings, as it were, rather than the other way around.
But AEG is also the developer behind Farmers Field, a proposed NFL venue in Los Angeles. The insurance company has reportedly offered $1 billion in naming fees if AEG can bring a pair of NFL teams to the stadium.
Bagley said that the Vikings aren't looking to sunnier climes, despite the lack of action on the deal the team struck with Ramsey County. He says he's still confident Minnesota lawmakers will address the Vikings situation once the budget battle is settled.(6 Comments)
Posted at 5:10 PM on May 20, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Two lawmakers in the House and Senate are proposing gambling to fill the gap in the stadium financing that's been nagging the Vikings and their would-be hosts in Ramsey County.
But stadium bill sponsor Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, reacted coolly to the measure today: "I haven't been involved in that at all. And I don't know whether that has any possible life or not. Haven't really heard anything, haven't been involved, so I don't know."
On the Senate side, stadium bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, R - Fairmont, actually signed on to the measure authored by DFLers Dan Sparks, of Austin, and James Metzen of South St. Paul.
"I don't know if this is the way out," Rosen said. "But it's something on the table. And I don't think it's all racino. It's other gambling, too."
The Vikings were neutral on the subject. "It's up to the state Legislature and governor to determine the source of the State's contribution to the stadium," said team vice president Lester Bagley, "If they want to use gaming, we will work with them on it."
Sponsors of the bill outlining terms of a stadium deal say they've got draft language changing the proposal to a site-specific deal in Arden Hills.
Sen Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said she got the terms late Thursday night. She said it will take some time to process the material, and couldn't say if it will be ready before the legislative session ends Monday.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said he hasn't decided yet whether to add language for the proposed Arden Hills site to his bill.
"I've just recently within the last few hours received some draft language that they've suggested for moving forward the Ramsey County site," Lanning said. "I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. So the next step will be to study that language and see if there are some issues that we have some conversations with them about."
Ramsey County and the Vikings have agreed on a deal to build a billion dollar stadium on a former Army ammunition site along Interstate 35W. The team rejected a Minneapolis bid.
The Minnesota Vikings are working to remind Governor Dayton and state lawmakers that they are committed to building a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf sent a letter to Gov. Dayton and lawmakers today highlighting their agreement with Ramsey County. Governor Dayton and state lawmakers haven't fully embraced the Arden Hills site because of the cost of road improvements.
Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley says the stadium will meet the governor's desire to have what he has called a "people's stadium."
"This is going to be a multi-purpose facility to host all of the high school and amateur sports and community events," Bagley said. "All of the events that are being held or have been held at the Metrodome so it's a replacement of the Metrodome and this is to assure everyone that this is part of our commitment."
Ramsey County and the Vikings reached agreement earlier this week on building the new stadium in Arden Hills. Ramsey County would increase a half cent sales tax to pay for its portion of the stadium.
But there are issues with the new stadium. Dayton and state lawmakers question the cost of road improvements needed around the site. Lanning also said he wants to make sure that the football stadium is used for more than NFL games.
"This is a facility for the whole state," Lanning said. "It's not just a facility for the Vikings. People keep referring to this as a Vikings stadium. Yeah the Vikings will be there hopefully. That's why we're trying to move this forward but this is a stadium for a whole lot of other needs as the state of Minnesota."
Lanning said he won't hold a hearing on the bill until some of those concerns are addressed. He said he has a Monday meeting with Dayton to discuss the stadium.(3 Comments)
Posted at 12:50 PM on May 12, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chair Ted Mondale says the Vikings have the ball in the stadium debate and that the state is waiting for them to close the financial gap. Here's what he told MPR's Elizabeth Dunbar this afternoon.
"You've got a site from the perspective of the Vikings that works. We have a funding gap as it exists of this moment of approximately $175 million of state highway money, and may be as high as $240 million. I'm not sure if that number goes down later this afternoon. I know there's a lot of discussions with Ramsey and MnDOT. But at this point, that's where it stands. The Vikings have selected a local partner, there's a funding gap. Nobody's quite clear how to resolve that."
Ramsey County officials say they're trying to crack the infrastructure nut. But they don't seem to have the clear solution: more money.
That seems to leave the Vikings or (or someone on their behalf) to sweeten the pot. But Mondale says he thinks its their deal to make or break at this point:
"I don't see interest on behalf of the main legislators and the governor at this point of saying you have to go here," Mondale said. "I don't think anyone's talking about forcing the team into a deal."
Ramsey County has released the "term sheet" that lays out the principals of the deal hashed out between the Vikings and county officials this week.
It's an incredibly interesting document, if you're a stadium policy wonk, and has some interesting clues about where this whole thing might be headed.
Let's start at the back, on page 12.
THE COST FACTOR
The term sheet bottom-lines the project cost at $1.057 billion. But that's not really a firm figure if you read it closely. For one thing, it counts a "trade in" value for the Vikings old home at $15 million. That's a number the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has mentioned before, but its hard to know what 20 acres of clean downtown real estate with a light rail stop is really worth.
But there's another number there that's even MORE interesting. It's the site acquisition cost. The 430 acre TCAAP parcel being eyed for the project is listed as having a $30M price tag, to be split by the team and the county. What the document doesn't say: The county has already been given 113 acres of the overall TCAAP site for park land, and bought another chunk for $1 to site its public works operations. The GSA said Wednesday that the site hasn't formally been put up for auction yet.
And it might never be.
Keep an eye out for signs of a fire sale, potentially with the help of Rep. Betty McColllum, that gives the Vikings and Ramsey County a deep discount on the site, with some of the savings perhaps going to that pesky infrastructure problem or lowering the county sales tax contribution. McCollum has been seriously involved in the TCAAP before, and in 2003 even backed relocating post office operations from St. Paul to the site to help make room for rail development at the Union Depot. (Footnote here: East Metro policy wonks might remember that Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman took positions against that, back in their U.S. Senate days. Dayton might have indirectly helped save this site for the Vikings.)
Now, on to some other numbers...
PERSONAL SEAT LICENSES
Vikings owner Mark Wilf made a glancing reference to "personal seat licenses" at the announcement in Arden Hills this week. He said it might be considered down the road. But from the looks of the term sheet, it's been pretty seriously considered already. The clue? A caveat on page 6. Under "Team/Private Contribution" the deal says that if PSL sales "exceed $125 million," the margin goes to pay for overruns.
Someone has already crunched the numbers and has put a nine-figure total on those sales.
The initial section of the term sheet calls for a 65,000-seat stadium, and a subsequent provision calls for an unspecified number of "affordable" tickets that presumably wouldn't have a PSL. If there are 2,500 of those affordable seats, that means an average up-front PSL cost of $2,000 a seat for the privilege of buying game tickets.
Oh, and look here. That's right about what they're going for on the secondary market in a dozen other NFL cities.
GET IT FOR A DISCOUNT
The most interesting and puzzling number in this deal, though, isn't the PSL cost or the number of seats, or the infrastructure cost. It's another, buried on page 6. "Project Savings" says the heading. It gives the first $41 million in savings -- actual costs below budget -- to the Vikings. That aligns nicely with about a 10 percent discount on their $407 million contribution, so it may just be trivia that its a non-round number.
But someone at the negotiating table with the Vikings and Ramsey County was confident enough that there's a prize in the bottom of that box that they spelled out how to dole it out. They even put a top end on the figure: "The County and the Team shall share equally in the next $100 million in net project savings. The Team, County and State shall share equally in any net project savings greater than $141 million."
Maybe it's just the equivalent of the office pool imagining what they'll do if they win the lottery. But someone has made contingency plans if that $1.057 billion turns out to be high.
It's yet another indication that there may be more money in this deal than at first blush.
WHO'S THE BOSS?
And remember how this is supposed to be a "people's stadium?" Let's take a look at the people who will really run it. The term sheet calls for a 5-member stadium authority, modeled on the Twins' Target Field. The kicker? The Vikings stadium chair would be appointed not by the governor - as is the case with the Metrodome's Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission - but by the Ramsey County board.
There didn't seem much love left to lose between Ramsey County commissioner Tony Bennett and the MSFC chair Ted Mondale this week. In the May 5 Star Tribune:
Bennett said that Mondale was "supposed to be neutral, but everything I hear is that he's only pushing the Dome site. It frustrates me because we haven't had any help from him in putting together a deal."
Frustrating the guy who championed the deal might be a hurdle to winning the chair's job from the Ramsey County board if the Arden Hills deal comes to pass.
Of course, the governor and the Legislature might change that governance language in the final deal, and Mondale was a former state Senator. So that stipulation may not be the last word on the subject of legal authority.
There are a LOT of outs to this deal, the most subjective of which is "Timing and level of Business Community support acceptable to the Team." That's a lot of unilateral leeway.
It's familiar territory for east Metro stadium boosters. Back in 2002, St. Paul got a custom-tailored Twins stadium bill out of the Legislature. Talks between the city and team went on for months, but collapsed July 11, 2002, when then-mayor Randy Kelly said he wouldn't put a tax referendum on the ballot unless the Twins signed an exclusivity agreement with the city.
They wouldn't. He didn't. And now the team is taking its lumps next to Sharing and Caring Hands, instead of the Dorothy Day Center
In short, even if this thing makes it out of the Capitol, there are probably ways for the Vikings deal to go wrong that no one has even thought of yet.(2 Comments)
Gov. Dayton announced today that it would cost the state of Minnesota $240 million to make road improvements and other infrastructure improvements to an Arden Hills site that could be the home to the new stadium.
Dayton said the highway improvements should be considered the state's share to the stadium.
"If some of that goes to transportation, in the case of the commissioner's (MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel) analysis, $175 million goes to transportation, then $125 million would be available to invest in other aspects of the project, construction or site acquisition or whatever. That would be the same amount that would be provided, the $300 million for the site in Minneapolis as well, so its an even-handed commitment on the part of the state."
He also said Vikings owners told him that they'll make an announcement later this afternoon.
On the budget, Dayton said legislative leaders have discussed a possible pathway to begin negotiations. He didn't offer specifics but said he still wants Republicans in the House and Senate to agree on one plan.
"One budget," Dayton said. "One Republican budget, that's balanced and based on verifiable reliable assumption is what I've said until I'm blue in the face, six weeks now, is what I require to commence negotiations," Dayton said.
Dayton also suggested that he would veto a redistricting plan because it doesn't have broad, bipartisan approval. Republicans in the Minnesota House approved a redistricting map that redraws the lines for Minnesota's eight congressional districts. Dayton said the proposal was "an interesting configuration" for rural Minnesota but wouldn't say whether he would veto the bill. When told the Democrats don't like the proposal, he said "well then it doesn't meet my standards."
I'll post video of the newser once it's encoded.
Hennepin County board chairman Mike Opat sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton saying that his board won't be pursuing a Vikings stadium bid -- for now.
He cites a lack of time to come up with a viable bid, potential cuts to state aid to the county and the Hennepin County Medical Center, and complaints he's been making for weeks that he thinks the state contribution isn't for real -- that the revenue sources are funny money.
It's hard to say what this means. With talk already rising of a special session at the Capitol, some of these problems could be ironed out in time.
But the Vikings ownership has been in town kicking the tires over in Ramsey County -- including a rumored tour of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills last weekend. Fox9 also reported the Wilf family visited today with House transportation committee chair Mike Beard about potential infrastructure costs out there.
Here's the letter from Mike Opat:
Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, and Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, took the stage over on Block E this morning to talk about their proposal to authorize a state-sanctioned casino on Hennepin Avenue.
Magnus said during the press conference that he expected it could bring $125 million or more to the state, and that he'd like it to go toward $1.2 to $1.5 billion dollars of transportation bonding. And maybe even a Vikings stadium.
Co-sponsor Kriesel was a little more circumspect about the idea and said he just wanted it to go toward infrastructure. "There's a lot of guys out of work out there," he said in an interview. He'd like to use the casino to put them to work.
Developer Bob Lux said he thought it could help bring 4 million new people to downtown. His handout promises a $50 million upfront fee and $250 per biennium thereafter.
He also said a 3% tax could put about $13 million a year on Minneapolis' bottom line. City Council president Barb Johnson said in an interview it would likely go to the general fund -- she specifically said she didn't want it to go for the city's share of a new NFL stadium.
We also couldn't help but notice that it looked like artist Dale Chihuly might get a piece of the casino action, too. That sculpture in the lobby sure looks a lot like his Sunburst hanging in the lobby of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue has just put out the revenue estimates that the state is likely to use for calculating its potential contribution for a new Vikings stadium.
Of note -- this is for what is assumed to be an amended bill, and we may not see that amendment until a first committee meeting.
That said, there aren't any real surprises here.
The topline: The biggest share of money is presumed to come in from the sports memorabilia tax, at more than $15 million annually. A 5 percent tax on team salaries is the next, at about $8 million annually.
There are some other interesting details in here, like what the Vikings expect they'll be making from suites. The document also suggests that official merchandise from the Twins, the Wild, the Timberwolves, the Stars soccer franchise, World Wrestling Entertainment and even NASCAR would be dinged to help pay the mortgage on the Vikings new home.
This estimate doesn't include local tax revenue, which is expected to pay more or less a third of the deal. It also includes some unintended costs, like diverted lottery revenue. It also says the total cost is expected to range between $700 and $900 million.
Have a look for yourself:
Gov. Mark Dayton signed the omnibus agriculture bill this morning and took questions afterward. He mentioned that he'd happened upon Zygi Wilf, the Vikings owner, in town to stump for the stadium bill parked at the Capitol this week.
Dayton gave some daylight to those mythical "local partners" that the deal counts on. He suggested a car rental and metro hotel tax might play into a deal, meaning a city or county would have to raise less with a potential sales or other local tax -- a much easier proposition to sell to a county board or city council.
Otherwise, he hit the usual points, including his staunch optimism that a deal is in the offing. Here's a truncated version of the questions, and a transcript of Dayton's answers.
Q: You met with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf?
A: Well, I was leaving the University Club speaking to the Metro Cities last night, and I just coincidentally, he was, it wasn't planned. He was in the building, and so Lester Bagley realized I was in there. And I went down. It was just a very informal conversation. He seemed hopeful, and I said I was hopeful that this would be passed through the legislative process this session. It's still to be determined, but I remain hopeful.
Q: What did you talk about?
A: I wasn't planning on meeting with him, so I didn't have anything specific to discuss. But it was just glad to see you again. And I understood that he had been meeting with some of the Legislators earlier in the day. And his son just got married. We talked a little bit about that and talked about how his son is 26, and they were back in town some day, I'd like to introduce him to my two sons, who are 30 and 27. It was really a pretty casual conversation.
Q: What are those hopes you spoke of based on?
A: Because we have some very good authors in both the House and the Senate, and bipartisan support in the both House and the Senate. And because I think it's possible. Ted Mondale is really the person who's spearheading this and has more of the details. And we'll have a meeting next week... I'll get briefed more fully.
But you know, I think there are some managable financial situations such that there would not be any general fund monies used, and so that the bulk of the costs would be born by the team, the Vikings, and also by the users of the stadium, as I've said before through surcharges on the tickets and the luxury suites, the beverage, the souvenirs. I also recommend that they look at car rental and hotel in the Metropolitan area. Car rental statewide, hotel in the metropolitan area because then you'll have people from outside Minnesota paying off some of those costs.
So we'll minimize any burden at all even with a local share on any taxpayers, and there will be nothing out of the general fund. And I think that's going to be a workable package and one that ultimately will gain enough support in both the House and the Senate and I'll sign it. So that's the basis of my optimisim. But it's to be determined.
It's been three days after the introduction of the long-awaited bill to build the Vikings a new stadium. Now comes an audible thud from at least one Republican in the state Senate.
Assistant majority leader Dave Thompson put out this statement this afternoon:
"I acknowledge the Minnesota Vikings are a state asset. However, Republicans campaigned on the message of sensible government, low taxes and decreased regulation. The voters sent us a clear message."
"As legislators, we are making tough decisions relating to education, public safety and the health of our most vulnerable citizens. It is inconceivable that we would fund a stadium to help multi-million dollar athletes pay their mortgages while many middle class Minnesotans are struggling to pay theirs. The focus of the legislature should be on creating a business friendly environment that facilitates success for the Minnesota Vikings and every other job provider in our state."
Senate GOP spokeswoman Susan Closmore said it's Thompson's position, not that of the caucus. But, as is the case in the House, the stadium bill still isn't showing any signs of turning up in committee in the near future.(4 Comments)
The Taxpayers League of Minnesota is taking aim at the Vikings stadium bill introduced this week.
Phil Krinkie, president of the conservative fiscal watchdog group, sent out an email alert today warning about the potential tax increases. Krinkie recipients to contact the authors and co-authors of the bill. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, is not expected to get a hearing until after the Legislature's traditional Passover/Easter break.
Here's what Krinkie had to say:
Yesterday Republican legislators Sen. Julie Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning chief authored legislation that would raise taxes on sports memorabilia, liquor, lodging, entertainment, admissions, food and beverages to fund another publicly subsidized stadium for a billionaire.
After months of rhetoric from GOP lawmakers about not raising taxes, Sen. Rosen (Fairmount), Sen. Magnus (Slayton), Rep. Lanning (Moorhead), Rep. Hoppe (Chaska), Rep. Hamilton (Mountain Lake), Rep. Kriesel (Cottage Grove) and Rep. Paul Anderson (Starbuck) authored legislation that would pay for two-thirds of a $900 million stadium on the backs of taxpayers.
These wayward Republicans need to hear from you today! Producing a balanced budget signed by the Governor is job one. Increasing the tax burden on Minnesotans to build a playground for billionaire owners and millionaire players is irresponsible.
Here's the bill, as posted on the Senate website this afternoon. It looks eerily similar to the bill we posted here last Friday, although Sen. Julie Rosen says the naming rights revenue now fall to the state side of the ledger, rather than to the team's share.
Here's the statement released by the chief GOP authors this afternoon.
For Immediate Release Senator Julie Rosen & Rep. Morrie Lanning
Following is a statement from the authors of the Senate and House stadium bills:
"Now that the Senate and House have completed the committee and floor portion of budget work, the stadium bills have been formally introduced and we are ready to get the stadium conversation started.
"Many individuals and groups are working to formulate a plan that will serve the facility needs of Minnesotans and keep the Vikings anchored in our state. The plan we have submitted today with authors of both party designations is a framework that will help us achieve resolution to this issue.
"Our hope is that the debate ahead will be open, respectful and productive, and results in a stadium that Minnesotans can use and enjoy for many years."
GOP Sen. Julie Rosen says a Vikings stadium bill is imminent.
"This week," she said, as she walked into the Senate floor session this morning.
"If not today, it's going to be tomorrow. We're just trying to get through a few conference committees, a few serious bills."
Rosen and GOP Rep. Morrie Lanning have been telling reporters and the public that a bill would surface after the House and Senate passed their respective budget bills.
MPR obtained a draft of the bill last week. You can read it here.
No word yet this morning on whether Lanning will introduce the bill this week.
Minnesota Public Radio has obtained a draft of the Vikings stadium bill.
People who have seen the bill say it's authentic, but there will likely be changes by the time it's introduced next week.
This version is labeled "Version 2" and dates from March 21, so it's at least of recent vintage. It's got more twists and turns than an Adrian Peterson run, but it makes for some great reading.
The highlights of this version pretty much match the letter and the bill summary that the Vikings published last night. But there are a lot more details.
There's no overall pricetag for the stadium in the bill, but the language requires the team to pay at least a third of the cost.
A proposed 40 year lease may mean state officials are thinking about an unusual 40-year Metropolitan Council bond sale to finance the stadium. It would be the longest lease in the NFL.
This version also includes a very long list of potential taxes, including liquor, sales, lodging, sports memorabilia, entertainment taxes, ticket taxes, food and beverage taxes, and even a "local tax to be named later" provision. It also allows the use of excess funds from the Twins stadium tax, as well as taxes generated to repay Minneapolis convention center bonds.
It also has a public protection clause, allowing the state to retain the team name and up to 18 percent of the team if it is sold within 10 years after the bill becomes law, pro-rated at 1.8 percent per year.
Under this bill, the taxes could blink on by June 30 this year, and local "partners" could submit bids to be part of the deal. A site selection committee is scheduled to pick a site by February 15, 2012.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said he wouldn't comment on the particulars of the bill, but said it provided a "framework" to open negotiations. Responding to earlier reports of the bill, he cited a player income tax surcharge and a luxury box tax as two items that might be sticking points for the Vikings.
GOP legislative leaders said at the Capitol today that the stadium is not a priority for them, and they want to finish work on the budget. Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement on the stadium proposal that said, "This bill is a good start, and gets the stadium discussion started within the Legislature."
At any rate, here's your weekend reading.
Update:An official who has seen later a later version of this bill says the naming rights may not stay with the team in the final version. The state may count the revenue for its contribution.
Days after a breakdown of talks between the NFL and its players, lawmakers in St. Paul say it could impact plans for a new stadium in Minnesota.
But Deputy Senate majority leader Geoff Michel added that there wasn't much progress on the stadium in the Senate to slow down at this point.
"I think there will be members who have questions about what is going on short term with the NFL," Michel said at a brief press availability this afternoon. "But we have had zero caucus discussion on the NFL, on a lockout, on the Vikings, on the Metrodome. Maybe you guys just don't believe us. I know it sells papers, but we're working on this little thing called the budget. Indications have been (laugh) that we'd be talking about this Viking thing every week. But I haven't seen it happen yet, and I wouldn't hold your breath this week, either."
So, call it a bye.(1 Comments)
Posted at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Moorhead Republican Rep. Morrie Lanning said this morning that he's still not committing to a Vikings bill, despite reports last week that this might be the week for the long-awaited stadium plan.
Last week, he said, "I was asked if it was possible (this week). I said that it was possible. Possibly later. I'm still not in a position to give a date."
The likely Senate sponsor, Julie Rosen, of Fairmont, gave a similar response last week.
Headliners will include former Minneapolis Federal Reserve research director Art Rolnick and Minnesota Vikings assistant director of public affairs Jeff Anderson. Corey Merrifield, from savethevikes.org will also be on hand.
The debate will take place on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 at 7:00pm in Willey Hall room 125/175 on the University's West Bank. The event is scheduled to run about 90 minutes, and organizers say they expect nearly 1,000 people to attend the debate.(4 Comments)
It turns out Vikings president Mark Wilf was heading up to the Capitol yesterday during his visit to St. Paul. He just took the long way to the Legislature after meeting with Ramsey County commissioners.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, a likely sponsor of an eventual stadium bill, says she talked with Wilf last night about 8 p.m. "Real informal," she reports. Rosen said there were no specific details, and that she won't be putting any more dates on prospective stadium bill introductions, thank you.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said he, too, met with Wilf last night, but separately. "No concrete discussions came up," he reported of the meeting. Like Rosen, he's a prospective sponsor, and he's not setting a kickoff time for the Vikings bill, either.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's spokesman John Stiles says Mark Wilf also met with Rybak yesterday, about mid-afternoon.
"The overall goal is to keep the Vikings in Minnesota, and obviously, the mayor has expressed his preference for the Metrodome site," Stiles said. He called the meeting productive, but said the Vikings aren't playing any cards yet, site-wise.
Stiles also said that Rybak talked to the Vikings leadership "about the need for a global solution. For Target Center. The Saints. The St. Cloud Civic Center. All of them."
Posted at 5:38 PM on February 14, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
State Rep. Alice Hausman, of St. Paul, has been circulating a one-page letter to her fellow Ramsey County lawmakers, a day ahead of an expected county board vote on opening talks with the Minnesota Vikings.
The letter calls on the seven commissioners to rethink their plans to open negotiations with the NFL team on a possible new stadium in Arden Hills, site of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.
"The county has been assuring us they would never agree to taxes, but, as we learned from the Twins' experience, we won't be asked," Hausman said. "It will be simply imposed on us by legislators from other parts of the state who can then say they saved the Vikings, and it won't cost their taxpayers a dime."
Hausman also says its the wrong time for counties to be building stadiums, as the expected cuts from the state's projected $6.2 billion dollar budget deficit get passed along to local governments. She says Ramsey County may simply be a tool to leverage a better deal out of Minneapolis and Hennepin County.
Hausman says she has 11 of the 23 members of the Ramsey County delegation signed on already, and thinks she can get more. She does appear to have a majority of the county's House delegation as co-signers.
Other signatories include Reps. Erin Murphy, Sheldon Johnson, Mindy Greiling, Bev Scalze, Rena Moran, Carlos Mariani, Nora Slawik and Michael Paymar. Senators John Marty and Ellen Anderson.
The letter hasn't been officially handed over to Ramsey County yet, but it may not make much difference. County officials expect the board to approve moving ahead with the Vikings by a wide margin at their meeting on Tuesday. The vote could go as high as 6-1.
It doesn't include any numbers, but county officials have been telling lawmakers that a half-cent sales tax in the county could pay the debt service on $300 million in bonds -- potentially the county's share of some 9-figure stadium deal.
The county board will be taking up the matter tomorrow morning. Their meeting starts at 9 AM.
Here's the letter:
Vikings vice president and stadium capo Lester Bagley couldn't make it on Kerri Miller's Mid-Morning show about a new NFL stadium in Minnesota this morning. But he did send a tantalizing email. He wrote to producer Ted Canova that the team may chip in more than the 1/3 they've talked about paying for an open-air stadium.
"The Twins added additional funds after the bill was passed," Bagley wrote. "Which is likely to occur in a Vikings scenario as well."
A lot, says the Twins' spokesman Kevin Smith.
He says the team chipped in another $50 million for in-progress upgrades during the construction and got an additional $4.5 from Target for the Target Plaza buildout. He said the Twins threw in another $15 million for buying land, after the court tussle over the stadium site's price. And he says they're tossing in another $4 or $6 million this off season for a new video board, fixes to the outfield and other changes.
All told, he figures its about $200 million of the $545 million the place will cost by opening day this year.
That calculates out to about 36.7 percent of the bill for the final product, including the $90 million in infrastructure costs.
They weren't the only team to do that, of course. The Minnesota Wild, after signing a deal for the Xcel Energy Center that cost them $3.5 million annually in rent for 25 years, pledged $30 million more for post-hockey arena-deal upgrades to the $130 million X in 2000.
The question is: Will the Vikings end point look like the Target Field deal? Or is that the new starting point for negotiations for the team's contributions at the Capitol?(1 Comments)
Posted at 8:00 PM on January 20, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
A couple of interesting tidbits from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission meeting this morning:
Tim Baylor took his oath of office today, making him what staff said is the first former Viking to serve on the board that runs the team's home field. He was also DFL Sen. Becky Lourey's running-mate during her 2006 run for governor.
Baylor played safety for the Vikings in 1979 and 1980. He's a real estate developer and McDonalds franchisee in the Twin Cities.
But Baylor wasn't the only former pro athlete to join the MFSC ranks today.
The commission's executive director Bill Lester pointed out that MSFC Chair and former DFL state senator Ted Mondale could have made a living in the Dome himself -- as a pro motocross racer back in the day.
Here's a picture the American Motorcyclist Association News ran in May, 1977, with a profile of biker "Teddy," the then-vice-president's son.
"So we have joining two former athletes, marvelous athletes," Lester told the commission. "We've never had that before."
Mondale demurred to the former NFL player: "I think he got paid a lot more than I did. I'm still looking for my pension fund."