Hartman: Stadium bill support still there in council

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 20, 2012 - 10:36 PM

The Minneapolis City Council's Meg Tuthill expects another 7-6 vote favoring the Vikings stadium Friday.

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Artist's rendering of interior of new Vikings stadium

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Minneapolis City Council member Meg Tuthill represents the 10th Ward and is one of the seven members who voted yes on the Vikings stadium bill, making it possible to have the city participate financially in the building of the stadium. She said she believes that the vote will remain 7-6, matching an earlier vote on a resolution to support the stadium in April, and that the stadium bill will pass the council Friday.

"I think that the seven votes are strong," Tuthill said. "I haven't seen any wavering. I haven't seen anyone questioning anything that has come down the pike in conversation or comments in the last week, so I think we're in good shape."

Tuthill said she found that within her ward, her constituents were split evenly between supporters and detractors on the stadium bill.

"The sentiment is running about 50-50 and it's very, very interesting," she said. "I think one of the biggest selling points in my ward and [for] the Minneapolis people that I've talked to is that we're getting the Target Center debt off the back of Minneapolis property tax payers. That's huge to people. That's a lot of money. That has really been a thorn in our side for a long time."

Tuthill said contrary to what some people think, the money dedicated to the stadium can't be used for city civic issues.

"That's another point, is the things we can't control," Tuthill said. "These are sales taxes. These are not taxes that belong to the city of Minneapolis, these are sales tax revenues from downtown that are mandated by the state of Minnesota. The state of Minnesota gets to tell us how and where and why we can use those taxes.

"I understand folks who are saying we need to invest in infrastructure and education and homelessness. The state will not let us do that with this money.

"This money is mandated by the state, so the state has said we can use it for Target Center, the new stadium, the convention center. But the bonus for me is there's a little line in there that says we can also use any additional revenue for economic development. Well, my goodness, that's really going to make a huge difference on things like homelessness, infrastructure and schools."

She also talked about how the new stadium will operate like the Metrodome by holding all sorts of events besides Vikings football, and how the Metrodome even has an effect on her holidays.

"I've been telling this story for years about how much the Metrodome has been used," Tuthill said. "We do a Christmas morning brunch and I have to hold that brunch until the [games and events at the Dome are] over because our friends' children come from Chicago, play ... with their friends that they grew up with here and whether or not the boys are winning or losing dictates what time my brunch starts. So I tell people that we are using the Metrodome on Christmas Day. People do not realize how much that dome is used.

"The other thing is I have never called this a Vikings stadium. I am not interested in single-use. I am very interested in multiuse. The large national conventions like AA. I know we have two religious organizations, I think the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians, that we're [working with] right now to have them come. I love having the Vikings fans come, but in all honesty, those folks are here for about four hours, the majority of them.

"But our conventions bring in folks for three or four days. Think about that. They're staying in our hotels, renting cars, eating in our restaurants, shopping, enjoying some of the other amenities that we have downtown like the Hennepin Theater District, it just makes economic sense. I'm very interested in that. Then of course there's the monster trucks, the NCAA [Final Four], we're hoping for another Super Bowl. There are other events. This is a stadium that is for multiple uses."

Tuthill did express some reservations regarding whether real estate taxes will decrease as a result of the bill.

"The mayor [R.T. Rybak] is saying the real estate taxes will go down, but I have to tell you I'm a little more conservative on that issue than the mayor is," Tuthill said. "I see this more as a stabilization for us right now because a lot of the property taxes, really the increase has come because of the state's lack of money being returned to the larger cities. So Minneapolis had a 0 percent levy last year, so did the park board, and if I'm not mistaken so did the county, and a lot of that tax increase oftentimes comes from the state, so we can't control that."

New Gophers AD here

New Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague was scheduled to replace Joel Maturi on June 30, but the date has been moved up to June 18.

Teague is in town Monday. He has scheduled some meetings with staff members and coaches and is also looking for a place to live. I wonder if he will have a new top assistant on June 30.

Maturi said it was easy for him to move the date up t June 18.

"I tried to put myself in Norwood Teague's position," Maturi said. "He was named the director several weeks ago now, obviously it's appropriate for him to go back and finish up what needed to be done for VCU, which he has done, their change of conferences [from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Atlantic 10], and it's my understanding their coaches are in line and things of this nature.

"I think that Norwood asked if it would be OK if he came a little bit earlier. I said fine and it makes sense to me. I'm here to help in any way that I can. I met with [University of Minnesota President Eric] Kaler this past week and shared that with him. I don't want to be in the way, but at the same time if there's anything I can do to help in the transition, I'll do that."

Jottings

• Maturi is willing to do anything to help the Vikings when they play at TCF Bank Stadium while the new stadium is under construction. "Our people have worked with the Vikings very closely," he said. "It's been months where it's been so. I think we are excited, like anybody, that the stadium bill passed. I think it's healthy for this community. I think it's something that if they play one or two years in TCF Bank Stadium, obviously it will be helpful for the Gophers financially. But more importantly, I think it guarantees the longevity of the Vikings staying here, which all of us want. It adds to the quality of life and I think will bode well for the Gophers in the long run as well."

• The word in NHL circles is that the Florida Panthers, who drafted Gophers forward Nick Bjugstad 19th overall in 2010, are putting a lot of pressure on him to sign and will spend a lot of money to accomplish that. Bjugstad is going to have a hard time turning down the money.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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