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Dayton says GOP plan could kill Vikings stadium

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that a Republican Vikings stadium plan could kill chances of a stadium being approved this year. With him is House DFL leader Paul Thissen. (Don Davis/Forum Communications Co.)

ST. PAUL -- Republican leaders and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton plan to discuss a new GOP-written Vikings stadium proposal this afternoon, but the governor did not wait until then to say the idea could kill any chances of a stadium being approved.

"The three of us have invited the speaker and Senate majority leader to a meeting this afternoon to see if anything can be salvaged out of this fiasco," Dayton said, with Democratic legislative leaders standing alongside him.

Republicans agreed to the 1 p.m. meeting.

House GOP spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said Republican leaders will give Dayton a copy of the plan, and make it public. They only gave reporters sketchy information about it Tuesday, and then only after Dayton forced their hand by calling a news conference to report on what he called "secret talks" by Republicans.

Dayton complained that Republicans talked about the plan Tuesday, overriding eight months of negotiations on bills that already await House and Senate votes. Stadium bill authors Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, did not know about the new GOP plan until Tuesday.

It is unclear how much state money would be used in the new plan, but figures have been reported ranging from $200 million to $300 million. The plan that has gone through seven legislative committees includes $398 million of state funds.

"We agreed from the very beginning that there would not be taxpayer dollars," Dayton said.

The new plan would be funded by general tax dollars. The original plan would allow charities to use electronic pull tabs and bingo games under the assumption that would attract more gamblers and, thus, provide the state with more taxes.

Many lawmakers, especially Republicans, oppose expanded gambling. Also, many Republicans want to pay less for a stadium.

However, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said his city would not go along with the new idea. Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley also rejected it.

The Vikings and other private sources would contribute $427 million and Minneapolis $150 million to stadium construction under the original plan.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, hatched the plan two weeks ago. He said the concept is that the state only would fund infrastructure, which he describes as "from the turf down."

"Nobody even knows what 'from the turf down means,'" Dayton retorted.

While Dayton and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the Dean plan means the stadium would have no roof, Dean said that would be up to the Vikings and others funding actual stadium construction.

Bakk said he has received more than 2,000 emails about the stadium in recent days, nearly all of them urging the Legislature to vote on the negotiated plan. He said he wants Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, to schedule the vote, but Bakk said he has not talked to Senjem about it.

"Let's bring up that stadium bill that has bipartisan support," Bakk said, noting that he and Senjem are sponsors of the bill.

Republican leaders propose putting the stadium in with an overall public works bill that would fix state building roofs, build roads and do other projects around the state, including beginning state Capitol renovation.

Dayton said that building a stadium may not happen. He said he does "not see how it can be salvaged" after the GOP plan was announced.

The governor and other stadium supporters say the Vikings likely will leave Minnesota if a stadium is not approved this year to replace the Metrodome.

Dayton said he had "candid" conversations with Zellers and the Vikings Tuesday and today, but would not reveal what was said.

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.