Minneapolis council holds the line on Vikings stadium

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 25, 2012 - 12:55 AM

A seven-member bloc on the City Council favors a referendum on any Viking stadium subsidy.

hide

Minneapolis City Council Members Barbara Johnson, Meg Tuthill, Lisa Goodman spoke at the end of a City Council meeting this week.

The weight of a football stadium has descended on a skeptical Minneapolis City Council.

Despite pressure from the governor, the mayor and Vikings boosters, a seven-member council majority say they're taking their cues from constituents opposed to a $300 million public sports subsidy without a referendum.

Ninety percent of the city e-mails pouring into his office say "stay strong, way to go," said Council Member Gary Schiff. "My constituents continue to applaud every single time I say that I cannot vote for this deal."

After months of maneuvering at the Capitol, stadium attention is turning to a bloc at City Hall that could control the fate of Vikings stadium efforts. Though the state hasn't presented its own funding plan and the council has no bill to vote on, Gov. Mark Dayton put the project on local shoulders Tuesday. "They're going to have to decide whether they can support a stadium project in Minneapolis or not," Dayton said, two weeks after alleging that they "carp about everything and trash everything."

Seven of the 13 council members -- representing south Minneapolis, downtown and University neighborhoods -- have said they oppose the mayor's plan to pay the city's share of a $1 billion stadium using existing hospitality taxes, absent a citywide referendum. The state and the team are expected to pay for the rest.

The governor's recent comments about the council haven't sat well with Council Member Lisa Goodman, who said the larger problem is the Legislature not wanting the whole state to pay for a statewide resource.

"I am done being dissed by the governor," said Goodman, who represents downtown. "Just because he can't get the Republicans to see it his way, he wants to badmouth local elected officials in his own party? I understand he's frustrated, but come on."

Mayor R.T. Rybak is pushing the stadium deal, which has so far garnered support from all three council members who represent north Minneapolis, including Council President Barbara Johnson, Don Samuels and Diane Hofstede, and Council Member John Quincy, whose district is in south Minneapolis. Council Members Meg Tuthill and Kevin Reich haven't publicly stated which side they're on, though Reich said Friday that he may have to support a citywide vote.

The glue holding opponents together is the 15-year-old charter requirement to hold a referendum on sports facilities costing the city more than $10 million -- a vote Rybak wants to bypass. It's what prompted Council Member Sandra Colvin Roy to declare her opposition, creating the majority bloc. It's also what fuels Schiff, who traces the rise in his political career to his co-authorship of the referendum language -- before it was approved by nearly 70 percent of city voters.

"This was where I cut my teeth, opposing taxpayer waste through these mega-giveaways in professional sports facilities," Schiff said.

Schiff said he could support a plan funded by gaming dollars, user fees, a statewide drink tax, or even if owners chipped in more than 50 percent of the funds. But his stance against the mayor's plan is firm, reinforced by a litany of supportive e-mails and applause like he received at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night.

A sampling of those e-mails from the public dismiss the Vikings an "octopus organization" akin to Boss Tweed, insist there are more important priorities for the city, and slam "corporate welfare" for a losing team during "fiscally difficult times."

"In the ward, by and large, more often than not [I'm] told to kind of hold my ground," said Council Member Cam Gordon, an opponent of the mayor's plan. Gordon recently received an e-mail from Urbandale, Iowa, highlighting the loss of revenue if out-of-state fans stop visiting Minneapolis.

Gordon, the only Green Party member of the council, said without a referendum the plan is a "non-starter" for him, though he has deep concerns about investing that much money in a professional sports team. He notes that no one has presented the council with a bill, so it is "hard to keep sharing opinions and expressing things when you don't actually have the proposal in front of you."

Council Member Robert Lilligren, who has received messages from as far away as Moorhead, hears from many constituents who are critical of "subsidizing a stadium for billionaires." He has a broad opposition to the city subsidizing a professional sports stadium.

"A lot of people are going to make a lot of money off of this facility," Lilligren said. "And to me it would be more fair for those who are going to profit from it to pay for it."

Council Member Betsy Hodges also has philosophical problems with public stadium subsidies. Those views solidified more than a decade ago, when she co-chaired a commission that examined private financing of a Twins ballpark. There are better returns on investment, she says.

"If we were to give this level of subsidy to small business owners in the state of Minnesota, our economy would thrive far more," Hodges said.

Council Member Elizabeth Glidden believes that the framework of the mayor's plan is "flawed." "I have not yet seen a plan that does not have a hole or does not have a substantial risk of putting additional unfair and unsustainable burdens on taxpayers of Minneapolis," Glidden said.

Colvin Roy, the latest opponent of the plan, said her position hasn't changed.

In addition to Dayton, there are others who believe the council is missing an opportunity. Cory Merrifield, founder SaveTheVikes.org, pointed to the mayor's proposal to lower property taxes by using the hospitality taxes both to finance a stadium and invest in Target Center.

"When you look at what Mayor Rybak has put together, I don't know that they're going to get a deal like this ever again," Merrifield said. "This is a tremendous opportunity for them."

Merrifield has urged local supporters to contact the council. He said once a written plan is in front of them, he will mobilize a broader Midwestern network to do the same.

Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House author of stadium legislation, said it's possible to move forward without the Minneapolis council -- though it's not "the way government ought to work."

"Technically, can we do something without their support? Yes," he said. "Practically, should we? No."

Staff writer Mike Kaszuba contributed to this report. Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 94 FINAL
Chaminade 63
Nevada 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close