Vikings stadium plan takes on an 'air of inevitability'

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 25, 2012 - 7:01 AM

Measure passed one Senate panel and was headed to another, paving the way for a possible final vote soon.

Business and labor leaders put political muscle behind a new Minnesota Vikings stadium Tuesday, their support helping build what one lawmaker described as a growing "air of inevitability" as the project neared a final vote.

In passing through a second Senate panel, the stadium plan continued an extraordinary political march at the Legislature after being left for dead barely a week ago. In both the House and Senate, the stadium's public subsidy package seemed headed for a vote this week, although either a razor-thin victory or a crushing defeat remained possible.

"It feels like a first down, [and] another first down -- got a good drive going here," said Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, who chairs the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, where the proposal passed on a unanimous voice vote Tuesday. "I think, after a while, it starts to take on a little bit of momentum and an air of inevitability," Michel said.

A string of witnesses representing a range of business and labor groups including the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Target Corp. and the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, told Michel's panel Tuesday that the stadium would not only create thousands of jobs, but much more. "This is far less a home for the Vikings than a community asset," said John Griffith, Target's executive vice president for property development, who has played a key behind-the-scenes role in guiding Minneapolis city officials on the stadium.

Tuesday's action also showed that stadium supporters were again trying to steer the proposal through House and Senate committees without forcing legislators to cast individual votes.

Of the five House and Senate panels that have debated the Vikings stadium plan this month, three have passed the proposal on simple voice votes. In one of the two hearings where there was a roll call vote, the plan failed.

Gaining steam - and ballast

Since National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell visited the State Capitol last Friday, the stadium plan has not only been resurrected but gained surprising political steam. Some legislators have complained about the quickened pace of the proposal -- and the political shortcuts.

Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, said the Legislature's treatment of the stadium plan in the past few days was making lawmakers look like "a total gang of idiots."

"Couple of people get off a plane from New York" and everything changes, said Cohen, referring to Goodell's visit.

There also were worries Tuesday that the proposal was taking on too much financial weight: The Senate panel approved having the plan also provide $43 million in debt relief for St. Paul's RiverCentre and Xcel Energy Center.

"I don't want to drag this thing down, but I do want to help St. Paul," said Sen. James Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, who proposed the debt relief.

A key legislator in the stadium plan said that using it as a vehicle for debt relief in St. Paul was "not doable," and afterward said it would have to be dropped for the Vikings stadium to succeed. "Forty-three million is a tremendous amount of money -- that can't happen," said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the chief Senate stadium author.

There were however other sweeteners added Tuesday for St. Paul, mostly in an effort to entice legislators from St. Paul to back building the stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

The legislation now includes a provision to spend $1.3 million annually for 20 years that can be used for, among other things, a new downtown ballpark for the St. Paul Saints.

Metzen's move created some tension, which could be seen Tuesday as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak had an animated conversation with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman in the back of the hearing room.

"We do believe that there absolutely has to be parity," Coleman told the panel.

The St. Paul mayor's comments came after Rosen reinserted language -- removed by an earlier Senate panel -- that would provide tax relief for Target Center in Minneapolis. City officials in Minneapolis have said that the tax relief is essential to get enough City Council votes for a new Vikings stadium.

Under the proposal, the Vikings would contribute $427 million to the stadium, the state would provide $398 million and Minneapolis would add $150 million. The team would also add $327 million to the stadium's operating costs over time, and the city would contribute another $189 million.

Michel said the final stadium vote in the coming days would be difficult for many legislators, but said the Vikings are "one of the things that put us on the map."

"We don't have an ocean," said Michel, who added that to many outsiders, Minnesota merely represents "flyover" country. "We need some things, [and] this is part of our stuff."

But Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, viewed the debate in another light. "Unfortunately, those trying to pick the pocket of the taxpayer seem to have a more effective lobby," he said of the Vikings.

Mike Kaszuba • 651-925-5045

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
UCF 45 FINAL
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
UMBC 39 FINAL
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
NJIT 71
TCU 70 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
USC 74 FINAL
UCLA 85
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
UNLV 58
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
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 NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close