Legislator asks for larger Vikings commitment to stadium
April 11, 2013 — 6:38pm
The Vikings stadium project should be held up until the state can be assured that gambling revenues are sufficient or until the team agrees to cover all shortfalls, according to bills introduced by a GOP legislator Thursday.
Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, who voted against the stadium project last year, said he believes that revenues from new electronic games will not provide enough revenue to fund the state's share of the $975 million project.
"It's a problem we need to fix," he said. "We need to fix it now. We can't wait, because the longer we wait, the less leverage we'll have. That first time that golden shovel hits the ground, we've lost any leverage we have with the Vikings."
Barrett introduced two bills on Thursday. The first bill would halt the bond sale to finance the stadium -- now scheduled for late summer -- until the state can guarantee that gambling revenues are sufficient to cover the state's share.
As an alternative, he said, the Vikings would be required to transfer revenues from stadium naming rights or from loans and grants from the league to cover the shortfall. Barrett said "We're not sure we can require the Vikings to do that," he said.
If that is impossible, he is introduce a racetrack casino or "racino" bill that would provide revenues for the stadium and other purposes.
"If that doesn't work, then we need to stop the contract until the e-pulltab revenue gets up to where it's supposed to be," he said.
Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president, said the team opposes the proposal because it "would dramatically change the deal that was negotiated and ratified by the Legislature in May of 2012."
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The 270-acre complex is proposed for the shore of Star Lake, home to sensitive wildlife breeding grounds, cabins in families for generations and a private hunting club used by some of Minnesota's oldest-money families.