DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said on Monday that he wants to call a special session to end Nov. 23 to vote on a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
 
But he would only call it if lawmakers agree to limit the scope of the session.

The governor, who has been leading talks with the team owners and local officials for months, said he has no agreement with Republican legislative leaders on a stadium deal yet. Republican Senate staffers have said Dayton will need to persuade at least some DFL legislators to support an eventual plan if a stadium is going to get built.

The governor said he wants to get the deal done, but doesn't care whether the stadium is in Arden Hills -- where the team has a deal with local officials -- or if the stadium is eventually built in downtown Minneapolis.

Dayton met with legislative leaders Monday to talk about the stadium situation and emerged with a special session plan. Republican lawmakers appeared cool to the idea.

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Just hours before Gov. Mark Dayton begins the first of three days of meetings over a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, Senate Republicans indicated Monday they are not nearly as willing to move as quickly on the topic.
 
Michael Brodkorb, the communications director for the Senate Republican caucus, which holds a political majority in the Senate, said there are not 34 votes among the Senate Republicans to pass Vikings stadium legislation. Republicans hold 37 seats in the 68-seat chamber.
 
“There has been no discussion between Senate leadership and Gov. Dayton on the need or timing for a special legislative session to focus on a new Vikings stadium,” Brodkorb said in a statement Monday.
 
Brodkorb said that Dayton would, in addition to brokering a stadium solution, also have to provide DFL votes in the Senate to pass the legislation.
 
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, who took part in a large group meeting with Dayton later Monday on the stadium issue, has insisted that there be a voter referendum if local sales taxes are increased to help build a new stadium. After Ramsey County’s charter commission voted last week against putting a referendum on the ballot, Koch said she was still personally in favor of a referendum.
 
While House Speaker Kurt Zellers – the leading House Republican – has appeared with Dayton at other events, including Saturday’s pheasant hunting opener, Koch has not had as much interaction with the governor since the stinging state government shutdown in July. Koch in fact said that she had met Vikings owner Zygi Wilf for the first time only recently.
 
Brodkorb said many stadium issues needed to be resolved, and said that before a special session of the Legislature was called Dayton had to decide on a site for the project in either Ramsey County’s Arden Hills or Minneapolis. “No agreement has [also] been made with the Senate leadership on the size of the state’s financial contribution to a stadium, or if the state will even contribute to the construction costs of a new stadium,” he said.
 
The Vikings’ $1.1 billion stadium plan in Arden Hills calls for the team to contribute at least $407 million, Ramsey County to pay $350 million and the state to add $300 million. The team is saying it will not renew its lease after this year to play in the Metrodome, the downtown Minneapolis stadium where it has played since 1982.
 
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In another sign that the DFL governor wants to be center stage at what remains a politically-divisive issue, Dayton said that he would “take the lead in terms of negotiations with the [National Football] League, with the Vikings.

“I’ll meet with everybody and everyone who has a stake in this, at one location or another,” said the governor, again leaving open the possibility that the project could still be built in Minneapolis, where the team has played since 1982.

But Republicans, who hold majorities in both the House and Senate, reacted tepidly to the rush to approve a public subsidy package for the Vikings.  Koch and Zellers said that until there was a specific proposal it would be hard to predict what would happen.

Both Koch and Zellers described a one-hour meeting with Dayton and others Monday as largely exploring stadium issues that had been debated before.  Koch said the meeting consisted of “some of the same ideas that have been kicking around. “

In an indication of the fast-moving events now surrounding a new Vikings stadium, team spokesman Lester Bagley said the Vikings’ construction company had assured the team that should legislators approve a public subsidy package in November the stadium would open in 2015.  “We believe it is aggressive,” said Bagley, the team’s vice president of stadium development and public affairs.  “But it’s achievable.”

Bagley said the draft legislation for a special session was 90 percent complete, and would specify that the project be built in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills.

Bagley however said it was difficult to begin lobbying legislators on a possible public subsidy package because the source of the state’s $300 million was not yet known.  “Do we have the votes for it?  It’s a different question if the source is racino, or a jersey tax or [state] bonding,” said Bagley, referring to several possible state funding sources.

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