Vikings stadium backers go into blitz formation

Labor unions, business leaders turn up the heat on legislators.

hide

A new stadium would be built on the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis, next to the Metrodome. But time is short to pass such a bill.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Minneapolis City Council members will soon be contacted by up to 30,000 job-hungry labor union members, all eager for the construction work a new Minnesota Vikings stadium could bring.

Gov. Mark Dayton will lead a rally at the Capitol on Tuesday for the proposed stadium and may hit the road later this month for similar rallies across the state.

That's just the beginning as business leaders, labor, lobbyists and stadium supporters launch an all-out blitz to push the $975 million project over the goal line in the coming weeks.

"Now is when it gets serious," said Charlie Weaver, executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, which represents the state's largest corporations.

"We need to get some people to yes," said Todd Klingel, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. "The wheels are already turning."

At stake are the hopes of many that the stadium will trigger a boomlet of development on the eastern edge of downtown, bringing jobs and fresh economic activity as well as securing the Vikings for a generation. But opposition remains strong, particularly among those who object to the state and city footing more than half the costs for yet another tricked-out sports arena.

On Friday, Tina Smith, Gov. Mark Dayton's chief of staff and a former chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, was making personal phone calls to swing votes on the Minneapolis City Council, where several members maintain that any diversion of taxes should go before city residents for a referendum vote.

Supporters admit passage could be an uphill climb but say they are getting to work immediately.

Dayton has pledged to keep "working on this project until we get it done." He'll be joined by throngs of building union trade members when he makes a public pitch at Tuesday's rally.

"We will raise a little noise ... [but] this is about sitting down and talking to legislators from both sides of the political aisle," said Harry Melander, president for the Minnesota State Building & Construction Trades Council. The tradesmen and women will lobby for the stadium, along with a big borrowing measure for state buildings.

The push will not lack for cash.

Between 2005 and 2010, the Vikings organization spent more than $3 million to lobby for their cause, making it one of the top spenders at the Capitol, according to state records. Last year alone it spent more than $300,000 on an advertising campaign and this year has an array of big-name lobbyists under contract.

Statewide business groups, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Business Partnership have their own lobbying forces and spend almost $3 million each year between then. While they are not exclusively focused on the stadium, they -- and their member CEOs -- could add to the case for a stadium.

Cory Merrifield, executive director of the advocacy group SaveTheVikes.org, plans to reach out to an e-mail list of 10,000 -- and thousands more on social networks -- to urge fans to contact their legislators by phone, e-mail and in person.

"Discussions are hot and heavy on the next phase of education and lobbying," said Klingel, who also is vice president of Homefield Advantage, a group that includes the Minneapolis chamber, the Downtown Council and labor interests.

Time running out

There are just about two months left in this year's legislative session, and there's a lot of work to do. Already, a bill that backers had hoped to introduce Monday will not be ready by then and was being worked on throughout the weekend. That delays the arduous process of moving a bill through legislative committees.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, has said he has no intention of letting the bill skip less friendly committees. He has diligently avoided taking any stand for or against the measure.

So far, backers do not know even which committees the stadium proposal will have to hit. That makes it hard for them to count support on any committee.

Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, noted pessimistically that "any committee could, frankly, take the bill down."

Some lawmakers say they are waiting for a sign of support from the Minneapolis City Council. But that may not be coming any time soon.

Powers of persuasion

After talking with Dayton's chief, Council Member Meg Tuthill said she remains undecided on the plan to redirect city taxes. Under the proposal, Minneapolis would be required to pay $150 million in construction costs and an additional $189 million for operating and capital expenses in coming years.

"If I were trying to sell an event, so to speak, I would start out with a pretty soft sell," Tuthill said.

Bill McCarthy, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation president, said building trades members have also been calling council officials.

"They haven't changed their minds yet," he said.

Neither has Sen. Dave Hann, R-Eden Prairie, who remains opposed to the expansion of gambling needed to fund the state's $398 million share of costs. The stadium proposal would allow electronic pulltabs in thousands of bars and restaurants -- the first such expansion of video gambling beyond tribal casinos.

Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, said that, "I think there will be some strong opposition based on the gambling stand alone."

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, can't see his way to yet another public subsidy for a sports home.

"I can name a lot of people in both parties who oppose it," Marty said. But, he noted with resignation, that does not mean stadium supporters will fail.

"They've got a busload of lobbyists over here working the crowd," he said. "They've got a lot of money behind it. They could win. But they've got a huge obstacle."

Staff writer Eric Roper contributed to this report. Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • Twitter: @rachelsb

 
  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close