With a majority of the Minneapolis City Council now on board, the push for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium turned late Monday to satisfying charitable gaming officials as part of a plan to use electronic bingo and pull tabs to help pay for the project.

For months, the plan to pay for the state’s $398 million share of the nearly $1 billion Vikings stadium has hinged on getting enough revenue from allowing electronic bingo and pull tabs in Minnesota’s bars and restaurants. Though state officials said doing so could produce $72 million annually – more than enough needed for a Vikings stadium -- they later dropped the figure by $10 million to provide tax relief for charitable gaming interests.

But charitable gaming officials have said the tax relief is not enough – and as of late Monday there was still an impasse.

Solving that problem needs to happen next, said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House stadium legislation author.  And when that happens then the third major obstacle at the state Capitol for a stadium package can be tackled – providing backup state funding that does not rely on the state’s general fund in case there is not enough revenue from electronic bingo and pull tabs.

“We've got to have this agreement with the charities first, because that agreement is going to cost us” money that could go for a Vikings stadium, said Lanning. “They want to use a significant portion of the $72 million.”

The agreement with the charities, Lanning added, will impact how much money will be needed as back up revenue. “We can’t really pin down any kind of back up revenue streams until we know how much they want,” he said.

King Wilson, the executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, which has been negotiating with state officials, said Monday that “I think we’re inching closer, but we’re still not there.

“We are not going to agree to something that we don’t think works for the folks we represent,” he said.

“The bigger the number the state needs [for the stadium], the less reform we’re going to be able to do,” said Wilson.

On Monday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced that seven of the City Council’s 13 members – a majority – now supported a plan to build a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Under the proposal, the Vikings would contribute $427 million to build the stadium, the state would add $398 million and the city would contribute $150 million. The Vikings would also add $327 million in operating costs, and the city would add an additional $189 million.

While the mayor’s announcement cleared a major hurdle for the controversial project, stadium supporters are racing to pass the complicated public subsidy package before the Republican-controlled Legislature adjourns.
 

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