Lester Bagley, Vikings President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development, brought his stadium sales pitch to the Burnsville & Lakeville Chambers of Commerce lunchTuesday afternoon at the Lakeville Holiday Inn. Bagley was joined by players Brian Robison and Michael Jenkins.

Brian_peterson, Star Tribune

Wanted: Stadium jump-start

  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • November 9, 2011 - 12:09 AM

This was supposed to be the week when Gov. Mark Dayton would recommend a Vikings stadium plan for the special session he planned to call in a couple weeks.

Instead, both he and the Vikings talked Tuesday about how to restore the sense of urgency that had spurred progress on a stadium deal until House Speaker Kurt Zellers' recent opposition to a special session.

Dayton sought to recapture some of that lost momentum Tuesday, calling on lawmakers "to show some leadership" and cut a deal now. Legislators hoping to delay a stadium vote until after the 2012 election, he said, would be choosing to save one job -- their own -- at the expense of thousands of private-sector jobs that a new stadium would create.

"I would just urge everybody to put the focus back on what they can be for," the governor said. "Some people, all they know is 'No' to this, 'No' to that, 'No' to everything. That's not constructive leadership. What are you willing to support?"

Vikings officials echoed that call for action. At a stadium pep rally during a Lakeville and Burnsville chambers of commerce luncheon, Vice President of Stadium Development Lester Bagley said the team's Dome lease is up "and we need to get this done."

"We were disappointed when one of the legislators said, 'No special session this year' ... because taking the deadline away from this issue was not helpful," Bagley said. "We were moving, there was energy, there was momentum toward a plan, a solution. We were getting there and all of a sudden we took the pressure off."

Bagley termed "ridiculous" the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission's view that the team's Metrodome lease runs another year because of last year's blizzard-busted home season. "We are on secure legal footing," Bagley said. "The Vikings' lease expires at the end of this season. It's in nobody's best interest to further delay a stadium solution."

Dayton said the prospect of trying enforce that lease provision bothered him, too.

"We shouldn't be engaged in that kind of hostile posturing with the Vikings. ... They're our team. And they want to stay here," Dayton said. "So are we going to sue the Vikings? Come on. What are we doing here? This is about moving Minnesota forward."

Bagley did not talk specifically Tuesday of funding mechanisms, but Dayton made some of his preferences clear.

"I'm for maximizing the private team's contribution," he said. Currently the state would provide about 60 percent of funding to the team's 40 percent.

Dayton said his preferred source of state funding would come from electronic pulltabs in bars, but said he was not opposed to other ideas. He called using Legacy funds -- the money constitutionally dedicated to the outdoors and arts -- "a bad idea," the first time he's publicly registered an opinion on an option that's proven controversial in public debate.

The governor also mentioned a "memorabilia tax on the Vikings souvenirs and things sold there" and "a ticket tax on users of the stadium." He said both Minneapolis and Arden Hills would be good sites for a future stadium and that he would not pick among them. • 612-673-4455 • Twitter: @rachelsb

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