By Mike Kaszuba
A Republican legislator has proposed selling the Metrodome to the Minnesota Vikings for $1, saying it might be one way to keep the team from leaving the state.
Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria, who for a time was a candidate for governor, introduced legislation Thursday to sell the Metrodome -- the team's home since 1982 -- to the Vikings. "Let's give it to the Vikings and let them do what they want with it," he said in a statement. "The stadium has long been paid for."
Kohls said he was opposed to providing public subsidies for a new stadium, citing the state's $1.2 billion budget deficit. "We just can't afford [to help pay for a new stadium], and I've never supported using taxpayer dollars for professional stadiums," he added.
The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season, and the team has said it is not interested in renewing it. The team and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the owners of the Metrodome, had been working on a proposal to build a new stadium on the Metrodome property, and the latest estimates put the project at $870 million.
However the team and the commission have been odds over whether the Vikings should renew their lease while the stadium debate plays out.
The team, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other legislators have floated a series of ideas for helping to fund a new Vikings stadium, including a new state lottery game, a metrowide hospitality tax, the possible use of federal stimulus money and expanding gambling at the state's two horse racing tracks and using the proceeds for the project.
So far however the Vikings stadium has not received significant attention at the Legislature, which convened last week and adjourns in May.