Dayton hopes for stadium plan on Nov. 7
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton wants the Minnesota Vikings, Ramsey County and others to provide him enough information so that he can release a Vikings stadium proposal on Nov. 7.
That would be two weeks before he plans a special legislative session to vote on a stadium plan.
Dayton hosted a trio of meetings today after other meetings earlier in the week to move the stadium proposal forward. He emphasized again today that he thinks it is "a very real possibility" that the Vikings will move to Los Angeles or elsewhere if they do not get a new stadium deal done by the Feb. 1 end of the Metrodome lease.
"I am still in a listening mode," Dayton said, adding that he has asked the Vikings and others to deliver information he needs to draw up "a more specific proposal."
Among key items he wants is a signed agreement from the Vikings that the team will pay for any cost overruns and remain in Minnesota if a new stadium is built. The Vikings dispute a Metropolitan Council report that indicates there would be higher-than-planned costs to develop the team's preferred site near Arden Hills, in northern Ramsey County.
Dayton said the Vikings agreed to pay the extra costs, but he wants it in writing before the process moves too far.
Although Dayton hosted three meetings today, those attending the meetings said little as they left.
Most notable in refusing to talk was Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who early this afternoon came out of Dayton's office and had a team vice president say that he would not talk. Then Wilf quickly walked out of the Capitol, with a horde of reporters and photographers in tow. He said nothing.
Hours later, the Vikings issued a statement: "The Vikings held a productive meeting with Gov. Dayton today. The team had planned to address the media with the governor following that meeting, but it was our understanding that Gov. Dayton wanted to make public remarks at the conclusion of all of his meetings today. Out of respect for the governor, the decision was then made to give him an opportunity to recap his day."
Dayton did hold a news conference later in the day to update the public on a new $1.1 billion stadium.
Besides Wilf, Dayton hosted a meeting with the owner of Block E in downtown Minneapolis, who wants the state to approve a casino for his property. Bob Lux said he and Dayton did not discuss the stadium, although there is much talk that some state profits from the casino could be used to build a new Vikings facility.
Also meeting with Dayton were Ramsey County officials, who are promoting a site in the northern part of their county as the prime stadium site possibility. Commissioner Tony Bennett said he would let Dayton speak about the talks, but did say he would not still be in the Capitol if things were not going well.
"We need to get this done by turkey day," Bennett said.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, has said any stadium deal needs to be approved by lawmakers in a special session before Thanksgiving. Lanning, prime author of the House stadium bill, said chances of approving a stadium will fall if it is delayed until the next legislative session, to start on Jan. 24.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, says she has no plans to develop a plan because that is the governor's job.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.