Vikings stadium bill introduced
ST. PAUL - A decade-long wait ended this afternoon with the release of a bill to build a new Vikings stadium.
The 70-page bill basically follows an agreement announced March 1 among state officials, Minneapolis leaders and the Vikings. Legislative leaders said Friday the bill could be in its first committee hearing next week, and it faces a March 16 deadline for passing out of at least one committee in each chamber.
The bill calls for a 65,000-seat roofed stadium that can be expanded to handle 72,000 spectators, which would be built on the current Metrodome site.
It requires the Vikings to remain in Minnesota for 30 years.
The stadium would cost $975 million, with $398 million from the state, $150 million from Minneapolis and $427 million from the Vikings and other sources. The state and local costs would be covered by the state selling bonds and paying them back over up to 25 years.
The bill requires the Vikings to attempt to get a professional soccer franchise within five years of the stadium's opening, expected in 2016.
The measure also overturns a $10 million limit that Minneapolis may spend for sports facilities. It also is written to avoid a public referendum on the issue in Minneapolis.
Besides hosting a dozen Vikings football games a year, the bill requires that the stadium be available for high school and other amateur sports uses. Gov. Mark Dayton has said the stadium would be used for events now held at the Metrodome, things ranging from concerts to monster truck events.
The bill was written before Dayton and Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans on Friday announced a new plan to collect taxes from electronic pulltabs and bingo to repay bonds used to build the facility.
The new plan would provide $62 million a year to repay the bonds. It would come from expanded use of pull tabs and bingo because of the use of electronic devices to play the games that now are on cardboard cards.
Before the bill was available, legislative leaders said committee hearings likely would begin next week. The bill must make its way through several House and Senate committees.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said he personally opposes the bill, but would not say if he will work to keep it from passing.
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, are co-sponsors of the bill. However, Bakk said he does not know if he will vote for it.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, are prime bill sponsors. They have led a working group of legislators and others that met behind closed doors for weeks to work out the bill's details.
Talk about a stadium to replace the Metrodome began more than 10 years ago, and increased in intensity as the Feb. 1 end of the Vikings' Metrodome lease neared.
The bill is available at http://tinyurl.com/78a5y8b
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.