New Vikings Stadium image
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota legislative Republicans are dropping their last-minute proposal to finance a new $975 million Minnesota Vikings stadium by issuing bonds directly tied to the state's general fund.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean cited "impediments" on Thursday for giving up on their general obligation bonding proposal that came to light only Tuesday after a series of secret meetings.
Among the stumbling blocks were questions about who would do the hiring for the project, the duration of the bonds, and other essential issues that construction would depend on.
Dean and other party leaders met with the city of Minneapolis and the Vikings Wednesday and said there was little interest from both groups.
"Well it certainly didn't move the ball forward," remarked Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter. "I think it was just a waste of a down, now let's move forward, come up with an idea that actually works and have a vote on the House floor."
House Speaker Kurt Zellers promised the house will vote Monday both on the state bonding bill and the existing "People's Stadium" plan that relies on an expansion of gambling.
"I am very pleased that the Republican legislative leaders have agreed to my request for up-or-down votes in both bodies on a new 'People's Stadium' that would provide jobs for several thousand Minnesotans and keep the Vikings here," Dayton said in a written statement. "Now everyone will be able to hold legislators accountable for that momentous decision."
Zellers expects that members of the House will spend Thursday afternoon debating a $492 million "vanilla" bonding bill similar to the one passed by legislators last year. Included in that number is a renovation project on the State Capitol building.
"It'll be vanilla, it'll be concrete, steel, rebar, not paint and not wallpaper, but it'll be infrastructure only," Zellers told reporters. "It'll be focused on the crumbling needs that our state has, the things it has that need to be fixed up, it will not add to our burden."
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, lawmakers from his party and some Republicans have been trying to figure out how to finance the new Vikings stadium. The team no longer has a lease to play in the Metrodome.
Zellers says personally opposes the stadium bill and isn't sure it'll pass. Sources have told KARE 11 political reporter John Croman they believe there are enough votes in the House to pass the stadium bill, but passage in the Senate is uncertain.
"In the House, the DFL is going to put up 34 votes," Vikings VP Lester Bagley told KARE 11. "We've got some firm Republican votes and we've got some more that we're working and there's people that are kind of in the middle of this issue that we're working to push over the fence on our side. That's the process we're going through right now."
For his part, Governor Dayton is urging state residents who support the "people's stadium" bill to weigh in. "I ask all Minnesotans, who care about the stadium, to contact their legislators and urge them to vote 'Yes' next Monday," Dayton said.
"We're going to have a vote after this long and winding road, the many months and many years that Minnesotans have heard about this issue. We're going to have a vote about the future of the Vikings in Minnesota and that's what this is about," added Bagley.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)