Vikings stadium plan approved

The Minnesota legislature gave final approval to a $975 million plan for a new stadium for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings that lawmakers hope will keep the team in the state for decades.

Eurosport

State senators voted 36 to 30 to approve a plan that raised the Vikings contribution to the project by $50 million while cutting the state's share by the same amount. The state House voted 71 to 60 early Thursday to approve the plan.

Legislators were acting on a conference committee report that could only be voted up or down. The plan goes next to Governor Mark Dayton, a stadium supporter, for his signature.

The Vikings have played at the Metrodome since 1982 and began lobbying for a new stadium more than a decade ago, before owner Zygi Wilf bought the team in 2005.

Talks intensified as the 30-year Metrodome lease neared an end and the stadium's inflatable roof collapsed in a 2010 blizzard that forcing the Vikings to play two home games elsewhere.

Forbes magazine valued the team at nearly $800 million last year and its value is expected to rise significantly with a new stadium. Part of any profit from a team sale in the first two decades of the 30-year lease would go to the state and city.

The Vikings agreed to kick in $477 million, up from the $427 million the team had agreed to provide under a deal announced in March with the state and Minneapolis.

The state would provide $348 million, $50 million less than a previous plan, and the city $150 million for construction. The city and team would be responsible for stadium operating costs.

The public construction costs would be funded using $498 million of appropriation bonds.

The state plans to add electronic pull-tabs and bingo to charitable gambling to cover the its portion of the bonds and could tax luxury boxes or begin a sports-themed state lottery if the revenue falls short.

The city contribution would be covered by extending taxes on hotels, liquor and restaurants that now apply to the Minneapolis convention center. The proposal also frees the city to work on its publicly owned Target Center basketball arena.

Supporters have said that without a new stadium the Vikings likely would move and Minnesota was unlikely to host an NFL Super Bowl or a college basketball Final Four championship.

"It's time for us to adopt a framework that allows us to keep ... our Minnesota Vikings here, for decades," Republican Senator Geoff Michel said during the final debate.

The planned 65,000 seat stadium would have 150 corporate suites and 7,500 club seats, adding to the Vikings revenue. The team also would have the sole right to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the stadium for five years.

The Vikings would be the main tenant, but the publicly owned stadium would host other events including state high school football and soccer championships, amateur sports and concerts.

Opponents questioned whether charitable gambling would raise enough money or should be used at all. They also questioned whether the team would relocate if it did not get a new stadium.

Early Thursday, Republican Representative Doug Wardlow said there was no urgency to approve a plan and called it "a new entitlement program for the wealthiest among us."

Senator Scott Newman said the state legislature should focus on public safety, education, healthcare and infrastructure.

"It saddens me to think that our citizens believe this is a wise expenditure of taxpayer money," the Republican said.

The Minneapolis City Council has narrowly supported a stadium plan, but would have to vote again on the final plan.

View comments (0)