A prominent business group pushing for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium said Friday their own statewide poll showed that 61 percent of Minnesotans favored the stadium plan now being debated at the state Capitol.
The poll was conducted in the past week and surveyed 1,000 registered Minnesota voters, and showed that nearly 75 percent were following the stadium saga at least somewhat closely. The poll had a margin of error of 3.2 percent.
Business leaders said the poll should send a message to legislators and city officials in Minneapolis lobbying for the $975 million stadium. “We want everyone to understand that they are on firm ground based on this poll,” said Sam Grabarski, the president of Home Field Advantage, the business group that commissioned the poll.
Grabarski said the poll results were not skewed by the group’s desire to have a new stadium. But the poll's questions did not go into detail on issues – such as whether state general fund money might be needed as a backup funding source -- that are stalling the stadium at the state Capitol.
The poll also differed substantially from others that have been done on a Vikings stadium – and shown widespread opposition to the project. In November, a Star Tribune poll found that 56 percent of Minnesotans opposed using public money for a stadium.
The percentage opposed in the Star Tribune poll had however dropped from previous years. An October 2010 poll by the Star Tribune said that 75 percent were opposed to using public subsidies for a Vikings stadium.
The Home Field Advantage poll results came as the stadium’s chances at the state Capitol continued to look gloomy.
“Nothing’s ever dead, but I’d be awfully shocked if somehow some life got breathed into that,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk. “I think the fact that nobody’s talking about it sends a pretty strong message.”
The poll results were released as stadium supporters continued to lobby key members of the Minneapolis City Council, whose backing is seen as vital, at least symbolically, to the project. The stadium would be built in downtown Minneapolis at the site of the Metrodome, where the Vikings have played since the early 1980s.
So far, despite heavy lobbying, a majority of the 13-member City Council has not signed a letter supporting the project.
The stadium would be built with $427 million from the Vikings, $398 million from the state and $150 million from the city. In addition, the team would contribute $327 million and the city would offer another $189 million for operational costs.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, who has remained lukewarm politically to the stadium, reiterated Friday he felt that majority support from the City Council was one of the keys. He also said that the state’s $398 million contribution to the project, which would be financed by allowing electronic bingo and pull tabs, cannot be financially backstopped by state general fund money if revenue falls short.
“If that is cleared up, I think that could move it. But, again, that’s not for me to decide,” Zellers said Friday of the two issues.
Added Bakk: “It’s very difficult when you got a city that doesn’t want it. Unless they have a change of heart, we’ll be looking at an alternative location [outside Minneapolis] next year.”