Minneapolis City Council gets last stadium vote

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 11, 2012 - 10:27 AM

Rybak looks to have 7 votes he needs. Stadium bill nullifies Mpls. charter provision on holding referendum.

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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak shook ands with Vikings fan David Gunderson in the hallway after the Vikings stadiumwas passed in the Senate on May 10, 2012 at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. (RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER * reneejones@startribune.com) r.t. Rybak, david gunderson

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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The stadium clock will soon start ticking at Minneapolis City Hall.

When Gov. Mark Dayton signs just-passed Vikings legislation in the coming days, the Minneapolis City Council will have 30 days to supply seven yes votes the bill needs to go into effect. Mayor R.T. Rybak predicts the council will likely take action May 25, its next regular meeting.

The final legislation ensures Minneapolis voters will not take a vote on the stadium, despite a city charter requirement to hold a referendum when the city spends more than $10 million on professional sports facilities.

On Thursday, Rybak's slim seven-vote majority on the council appeared to remain firm. Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy, one of the last to support the plan, said she has seen nothing in recent days that would sway her vote.

"The biggest change I know of is the Vikings are going to pay more," Colvin Roy said. "And that's good."

Council Member Kevin Reich, the other swing vote who eventually supported the plan, did not respond to requests for comment.

As for the timing of the vote, Rybak said in an interview that "we really haven't had time to make that decision. But it's likely that we'll do it on the 25th." Only Rybak can call a special council meeting earlier than that date.

Deciding whether the bill goes through council committees is up to Council President Barb Johnson, who did not return a request for comment Thursday. The most likely committee would be intergovernmental relations, which includes all council members.

Council Member Cam Gordon, an opponent of the plan, said he wasn't sure which committee would have jurisdiction over the stadium bill.

"We don't really have a committee for corporate welfare," Gordon quipped.

The Minneapolis delegation at the Capitol did not provide much support for the final stadium deal. Four of six Minneapolis senators and nine of 11 Minneapolis House members opposed the legislation. All are DFLers.

City contribution

The city's contribution is expected to be $150 million for the stadium's construction and an additional $189 million for operating costs and capital improvements over the life of the deal. That $339 million total rises to $675 million when accounting for interest.

It will be paid for by a combination of city sales taxes that currently support the Minneapolis Convention Center -- a citywide sales tax, downtown liquor and restaurant taxes and a hotel tax. Money will be available because debt on the Convention Center is expected to be paid off in 2020.

If sales tax revenue rises faster than expected, the city's contribution would grow even larger. Rybak noted that would also dramatically increase the city's economic development funds.

Despite early objections from St. Paul lawmakers, the final deal also gives the city the means to renovate and pay debt on the city-owned Target Center.

Rybak emphasized in an interview that the city also got a provision to charge a sales tax on tickets to NFL games and potential Major League Soccer matches -- if the league brings a team to Minneapolis.

Bypassed vote

The charter requirement for a referendum on sports subsidies has been the biggest sticking point in gaining support for the deal in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal argued the stadium plan did not trigger the charter referendum requirement because the state is merely reclaiming its own money. The bill goes further and thwarts potential court challenges by nullifying that section of the city charter.

It also means the Minneapolis City Council, when it takes up the Vikings stadium legislation, will also be faced with bypassing the city's own charter.

Opponents contend Segal's argument does not hold water.

Segal said she did not know Thursday whether she would issue a formal written opinion on the matter -- it has been limited to oral advice.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

  • THE CITY'S SHARE

    $150 MILLION for construction

    $189 MILLION for operating expenses and capital improvements

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