Dayton pushes Vikings stadium for construction jobs

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 11, 2012 - 9:12 PM

Many workers who built TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field have been unemployed since then.

Gov. Mark Dayton -- who continues to work hard on getting a new stadium for the Vikings, which also would help attract major events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl and bring lots of fans spending money into the area -- expects a big delegation of unemployed construction workers to show up this week at the State Capitol to urge the Legislature to pass a stadium bill so they can go back to work.

Many of the 7,500 construction workers who helped build TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field have been unemployed since both projects were completed.

"This is, No. 1 for me, a jobs bill," Dayton said. "An estimated 8,000 construction workers over three years working on it to build it, and another 5,000 people in businesses that are suppliers for the construction industry who would also be put to work. So [building a stadium would have] a huge job impact at a time when the construction industry needs jobs.

"We need everybody who's working too hard to be able to hang out at the Legislature to call their legislators and say, 'You know, we support this.' People keep track of those things at the hill, and if they don't, they're usually not around. So it really does matter what people say."

Dayton talked about the big impact the Vikings have on the area during the football season, providing entertainment on television for shut-ins and nursing home residents and a boost for many restaurants around the state.

"Somebody pointed out there's one restaurant in Rochester that, on Sundays when there's going to be a Vikings game, they add 12 additional staff for the afternoon because of the extra people coming in to have lunch or have a couple of drinks and watch the game," Dayton said. "So there's all this economic impact that we don't even measure that is also part of it."

Dayton pointed out that sales taxes and gambling income will pay the state's portion for the stadium.

"We're making projections [on gambling income], so there's no guarantee," he said. "The Gambling Control Board is making what they say are conservative assumptions about the number of places that will have it, and the Department of Revenue is making conservative assumptions about how much revenue that would generate for the state. There's no reason we would want to fool ourselves and come up short."

Dayton said there might need to be some kind of backup sales tax on memorabilia purchases at the stadium, tickets purchased for games or other types of user fees.

"Something like that certainly could be considered, but we're working within the agreement we have on no general fund tax dollars and the requirement of the legislative majority that there be no additional tax of any kind," he said. "That's what knocked out [the potential stadium site at] Arden Hills. So you know, within those limitations, this is the best we've come up with so far."

Dayton reported that "Our commissioner of revenue, Myron Frans, and the director of the Gambling Control Board, Tom Barrett, are prepared to meet with the lobbyists for the charitable gaming association this week. We want them to gain, we want the state to gain, we want groups like the VFW and the American Legion to gain. And if the numbers now don't accomplish that, we want to lower the tax rate for the charitable gaming associations. We're willing to work it out.

"Part of the problem is, last year they had a bill -- and again they have it this year -- that would do exactly the same thing and give all the revenues to them. So from their standpoint they're losing, relative to what they want, but from our point, they're gaining relative to what they have."

Dayton was critical of some members of the Legislature.

"I have heard enough times to believe it, that very strong caucuses, especially in the House, who say we're against this, but we don't want to be put to a vote on it, so let's just punt," he said. "We're in the middle of the regular session now. I think the focus should be on getting it done now. If it's not done this year, I'd be inclined to wait until the next session, which would start in January, and go at it again."

Ex-Gophers in NCAAs

Two former Gophers will play with teams who qualified for the NCAA men's basketball tournament: Royce White with Iowa State and Justin Cobbs with California.

As I wrote last week, White was the only player in the nation to lead his team in all five major categories: scoring (13.1 points per game), rebounding (9.2), assists (5.1), steals (1.2) and blocks (0.9). He was named first-team All-Big 12 as Iowa State (22-10) earned its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005, the year the Cyclones beat the Gophers in the first round.

Cobbs averaged 12.9 points per game at California (24-9), shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three-point range. He also led Cal with 5.0 assists per game and averaged 3.1 rebounds. Cal is playing Wednesday in one of the four play-in games in Dayton, against Soth Florida.

Former Gopher Colton Iverson has to sit out as a transfer, but his Colorado State team is also in the NCAA tournament.

Jottings

• Team sources report Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio suffered a clear tear of the ACL in his left knee Friday against the Lakers. Rubio is expected to have famous Colorado surgeon Richard Steadman do the surgery on his knee.

• There is a possibility the Vikings will re-sign released cornerback Cedric Griffin and offensive guard Anthony Herrera once they test the free-agency market, if they would come back for a lower salary. But I'm sure guard Steve Hutchinson can get more money in free agency than the Vikings are willing to pay (his contract called for nearly $7 million this year), so he won't be back.

• Former Gopher Blake Wheeler leads the Winnipeg Jets in scoring with 56 points (17 goals, 39 assists) in 67 games and also leads the team with a plus/minus rating of +13.

• Mark Allison reports that the recent Diamond Awards banquet for the benefit of the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center at the University of Minnesota raised $260,000.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 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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