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Arts supporters hold signs outside a Minnesota Senate committee room today asking that sales tax money destines for outdoors and arts projects not be used for a Vikings football stadium. The issue was among many two Senate committees discussed during a long hearing. (Don Davis/Forum Communications Co.)

White Earth proposes casino to keep Vikings in Minnesota

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ST. PAUL -- The White Earth Tribal Nation proposes that it be allowed to build a Twin Cities-area casino, with proceeds going to help build a Minnesota Vikings football stadium.

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Tribal Chairwoman Erma Vizenor was to present the idea this afternoon to two Minnesota Senate committees considering stadium financing.

Also at the meeting, the Vikings told senators that while they want to say in Minnesota, they have been approached by other communities to move.

Vizenor was among dozens who discussed financing, including horse-track owners who want to add casinos to their facilities, bars and charities who want electronic pull tabs, a downtown Minneapolis casino and many other ideas, all of which would provide the state money for a stadium.

Senators held the hearing to gather information, but could not make any decisions.

The White Earth proposal would provide about $300 million in revenues a year, to be split between the state and tribe. It also would provide about $10 million in new state sales taxes a year.

White Earth would build the casino without state involvement. Vizenor's plan suggests beginning with 150 table games and about 4,000 slot machines.

The proposal also would include a motel in Arden Hills, where the Vikings want to build a new stadium, with up to 500 rooms.

"I don't think it has any better chance than any other gambling proposal," Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbook, said about the White Earth proposal's chances.

Skoe asked Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley about chances that the team could move.

Bagley said the team has been contacted by potential team owners in Los Angeles and another community he did not name. It was the first time the team has admitted to talking to other communities.

Gov. Mark Dayton often has said he fears the team will move if a new stadium is not build.

"What we have told folks is that we are 100 percent focused on getting this job done in Minnesota," Bagley told senators. "We want to be here. We are doing everything we can to be here."

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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