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Minneapolis Council approves Vikings stadium in preliminary vote

Posted by: Eric Roper under Local business, Politics and government Updated: May 24, 2012 - 1:29 PM

In one of the last steps before work begins on a new Vikings stadium, the Minneapolis City Council voted 7-6 Thursday to approve a plan that would fund the facility using redirected sales taxes.

The vote is the last major hurdle for the project, but not the final word on the matter – the Council has to ratify their decision during a regularly scheduled meeting on Friday morning. Thursday's approval showed that no votes had changed since seven members pledged their support in late March.

Voting for the deal: Council President Barbara Johnson and council members Sandy Colvin Roy, Diane Hofstede, John Quincy, Kevin Reich, Don Samuels and Meg Tuthill. Voting against: council members Elizabeth Glidden, Lisa Goodman, Cam Gordon, Betsy Hodges, Robert Lilligren, Gary Schiff.

The vote Thursday represents a major victory for Mayor R.T. Rybak, who spent weeks wrangling a narrow majority of support from the City Council. It did not materialize until Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy, who represents southeast Minneapolis, switched her position and supported the plan.

The city will finance its portion of the stadium using a suite of sales taxes – a citywide sales tax, downtown restaurant and liquor taxes and a hotel tax. Those taxes currently pay for the city’s convention center, but money will be freed up when debt on that facility is paid in 2020.

The total city subsidy is $309 million, or $678 million when accounting for interest over the life of the deal. That figure could rise to $890 if the sales taxes grow faster than 2 percent per year, leaving the city with about $1.4 billion to use for economic development – after it pays for other obligations.

The biggest problem in the deal among opponents on the Council was the lack of a citywide vote. The city’s charter requires a referendum when the city spends more than $10 million on a professional sports facility, per an amendment that passed overwhelmingly in the 1997 elections.

The legislation also gives Minneapolis the means to renovate the city-owned Target Center. Mayor R.T. Rybak said the city likely will put $60 million to $70 million into that project, which will be combined with a similar amount from private partners.

 

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