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The proposed Vikings stadium site in Arden Hills.

file, Minnesota Vikings

Vikings stadium deal has to wait

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE and ROCHELLE OLSON
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • July 16, 2011 - 1:12 AM

The Minnesota Vikings will have to wait a little longer for a new stadium, because legislators say it will not be on their agenda for a special session next week.

"There's not a lot of support for cutting people off health care, cutting jobs, then turning around and authorizing bonding for a stadium," said Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, a co-sponsor of the stadium bill.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said that Gov. Mark Dayton may call a second special session later this year to deal with the stadium. "We will have a vote and we'll work to get it passed," Rosen said. "But if I tried to get a vote on it right now, I'd be strung up."

Legislative leaders are still wrestling to get the rank-and-file votes needed for an overall budget that will end the state's two-week government shutdown.

Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, spent most of her day attempting to work out details for a bonding bill of at least $500 million that was part of the leadership agreement. No one, she said, had mentioned including a Vikings stadium. "I think there is enough work to do just to get the basics of this [budget] deal together," she said. As for the stadium? "I think it is an impossibility this special session."

Dayton spokesman Katie Tinucci confirmed that Dayton on Friday said he would consider calling a special legislative session in the fall.

Phone calls aplenty

Rosen called Dayton and Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley late Friday afternoon to tell them that she would not push consideration of the bill in the upcoming session.

"I strongly feel that we need to stay focused on the budget. That's where my attention is, getting this budget solved and this session over with," Rosen said.

The stadium bill still has a few unresolved issues, she said, such as the state's share of road improvement costs for the Arden Hills site. The bill needs committee hearings and a chance for public testimony before the Legislature is called back to act on it, she said.

"It's just not going to happen in this special session in the next week," Rosen said.

Dayton, through a spokeswoman, didn't commit to calling a separate session for the stadium bill.

The governor "said earlier that he would consider another special session later this year to deal with the stadium -- all he said was that he would consider it," Tinucci wrote in an e-mail.

Team owner Zygi Wilf told Dayton by phone Friday afternoon that "the time is now" for a new stadium and that the team wanted to be part of the special session next week, Bagley said.

"Then the question is how do you sit down and work it out in this difficult environment, given the budget situation," Bagley said.

Wilf was assured that "the governor wants to solve the issue," Bagley said.

Dayton also met privately Friday with Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chairman Ted Mondale. Neither commented on the conversation afterward.

Tinucci said that Dayton "spoke with Mr. Wilf on the phone this afternoon, but the governor continues to focus on negotiating the final details of the budget."

By late afternoon, Bagley said he still believed a deal was possible for the summer session.

"We're trying to see what's possible," he said, adding that details remain to be solved but that a stadium deal could be completed within two hours.

The most recent public plan calls for a $1 billion stadium on the former munitions site at Interstate 35W and Hwy. 10.

The Vikings would pay $407 million, the state $300 million, and Ramsey County $350 million with proceeds from a half-cent sales tax. Bagley, however, has said that recent discussions have involved reducing the size and cost of the stadium.

Mayor Chris Coleman and the St. Paul City Council have announced their opposition to the proposal, saying it places an unfair burden on Ramsey County taxpayers.

kduchschere@startribune.com • 612-673-4455 raolson@startribune.com • 651-735-9749 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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