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Dayton's stadium decision: No decision yet

With Gov. Mark Dayton, Ted Mondale answers questions today after potential Vikings stadium sites. Mondale is Dayton's key aide on stadium issues. (Don Davis/Forum Communications Co.)

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton says he does not have enough information to get behind a Vikings stadium plan, but appears to be leaning toward a western downtown Minneapolis site.

The governor released pages of information about the three major potential stadium locations today, but said enough questions remain that he cannot recommend one. Nine proposals were submitted last week, three of which he took seriously.

Dayton said he is pressuring backers of each site to fill in the blanks, but did not give a new deadline for when those answers are due.

"Regrettably, there is not yet a stadium proposal with a complete and sufficient financial plan, one which assigns equitable obligations to the Vikings, the local partner and the state of Minnesota," Dayton said. "And no site sponsor has adequately resolved the major unanswered questions in order to merit the approval to proceed."

In the meantime, a group of legislators and a governor's aide were to meet later today on the stadium issue. Any stadium plan needs legislative approval, but lawmakers are all over the map on stadium issues, especially how to finance it.

Dayton said the longer it takes to answer the questions, the less likely it is that a stadium will be approved by lawmakers in their session that begins on Tuesday. Legislative leaders want to adjourn for the year in April.

The governor reinforced his support of allowing charitable gambling outlets to use electronic devices as well as the current paper pull tabs and bingo cards. That would bring in $60 million a year, he said, about double what would be needed to pay the state's portion of a stadium-construction loan.

The Vikings' favored site, in Arden Hills, lacks a local funding option, Dayton said. Republican legislative leaders say there is not support to allow a local tax increase that Ramsey County officials propose, which leaves the $1.1 billion plan more than $300 million short.

Dayton appeared to dismiss Minneapolis' preferred plan, to rebuild the Metrodome, in favor of one in the city's western downtown area near where the basketball Timberwolves and baseball Twins play.

However, the governor said that the Vikings need to say how much they will pay toward a stadium built in Minneapolis. They promise more than $400 million if the stadium is built in Arden Hills, but have consistently refused to say how much they would pay for a Minneapolis facility.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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.