Stadium backers press Minneapolis City Council for support

A show of support by a Minneapolis City Council majority for Mayor Rybak's plan remained elusive.

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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

Minneapolis City Hall was abuzz on Thursday as backers of Mayor R.T. Rybak's plan to pay for a Vikings stadium tried to persuade a majority of the City Council to sign letters of support.

Several on the 13-member council were willing to put their approval in writing, but the votes remained short as council offices closed Thursday night. At the Capitol, the House sponsor of the stadium bill, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said that council support and resolving concerns over electronic pulltabs need to be wrapped up by the end of the week.

"If those two things aren't done this week, we've got a real problem," he said. "I'm not going to say [the stadium's] dead, but it obviously is a serious problem."

Two council votes hang in the balance: Kevin Reich and Sandra Colvin Roy, both of whom met with Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday. Reich said he is "still reviewing" the mayor's plan but will "absolutely not" sign the letter of support.

"It's always been my position that elected officials settle their matters when they vote," Reich said, adding that he does not want to express himself through a "collective position paper."

Colvin Roy has said she wants to see a citywide vote on Rybak's plan -- a referendum the mayor opposes -- but nonetheless reviewed the latest numbers in the plan with city officials and a stadium consultant.

"I had a knee-jerk reaction to subsidies for sports stadiums," Colvin Roy said as she left City Hall. "But I have been listening to the financial projections. I've been listening to the city attorney. I've been listening to my constituents."

She has not signed a letter of support, however. As for whether she's under pressure, Colvin Roy said, "Most of the pressure is coming from me internally."

An unsigned letter of support, written on Council Member Diane Hofstede's letterhead, emerged on Thursday. It was addressed to the bill's authors and Dayton. "As Minneapolis elected leaders who represent a majority of the City Council and the position of the Mayor, we stand ready to be the local partner for a stadium solution," the letter said. "We will not take a vote on a Vikings stadium plan that violates the City's charter."

Hofstede declined to comment on the letter.

Council Members John Quincy and Don Samuels said they had already signed similar letters.

Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, said the council's support would help the stadium effort. "I think if the mayor is able to get seven signatures out of the City Council it clears a small hurdle," he said. "But I think there's still probably enough problems with the bill here that it doesn't make for smooth sailing here."

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, agreed that majority support from the City Council would help, but he said Republican House leaders "haven't been too warm" to pushing the stadium plan.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732

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