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Gov. Dayton not happy with Lanning stadium plan

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton says he was blindsided with news that the chief Minnesota House negotiator had a new Vikings stadium plan.

Besides not telling Dayton, the governor said this morning that Rep. Morrie Lanning's proposal may violate federal law.

"The good news is House leadership has come forward with a proposal," Dayton said. "Unfortunately, my administration wasn't included or even informed."

The governor said he was concerned about a portion of the proposal involving a form of gambling called tip boards, which he said could be a violation of federal law.

Including such a proposal would not make borrowing easy, if possible at all, he said, because companies that would lend the state money might hesitate if it violates federal law.

"The simple reality is they can't issue bonds for something that suspect," Dayton said. "It doesn't strike me at first glance as a viable option."

Dayton said he still believes an agreement can be reached after further negotiations.

"The fact that House leadership is bringing forward a bill brings it closer," he said.

Charities that use paper pulltabs and bingo would be allowed to use electronic versions of the games, which under Lanning's new plan are estimated to produce enough money to cover paying back the state's $398 million stadium-construction loan.

Under the new Lanning plan, charities would pay lower taxes and get more money from the games, which they have sought for years. The state also would get more revenue, which could be used for a stadium.

The Vikings would pay $427 million and Minneapolis $150 million toward the nearly $1 billion downtown Minneapolis stadium.

Lanning takes his plan in front of a House committee tonight for the first time. A similar plan received a Senate committee hearing, but the meeting ended without a vote.

Besides the main funding option, the Lanning bill includes four back-up proposals in case charitable gambling revenues fall short of projections. The Vikings do not like some proposals, which rely on stadium taxes or fees, and the Hennepin County board chairman frowned on one that would divert some tax in his county.

The Vikings say they need a new stadium to remain fiscally competitive and the Metrodome does not give them enough opportunity to make money. The team's lease expired Feb. 1, but it is too late to move or sell the team before next season.

Danielle Nordine and Don Davis report 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.