Stadium could get House, Senate votes this weekend

A bruising hearing and a 7-6 vote set stage for a weekend showdown.

The Minnesota Vikings' quest for a new stadium barely survived its most difficult test Friday, when a key Senate panel narrowly voted to push the project ahead. That sets up what could be a ferocious fight for votes in the full House and Senate.

The Senate Taxes Committee voted 7-6 to move the bill ahead, but the Vikings got a vivid preview of how difficult it will be to win final approval for a $1 billion stadium. Some Republicans teamed with DFL stadium opponents during the long, bruising hearing.

Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, said afterward that the full Senate may vote on the bill Sunday, with a House floor vote coming as early as Saturday. "We've got to soak this up a little bit," Senjem said.

Senjem noted that the stadium project could move ahead in the Senate even without an overall end-of-session agreement on a range of other issues that include taxes and bonding.

The stadium proposal has passed six House and Senate panels in the past month, but its path continues to be uncertain. Nearly all the votes have been without recommendation and many have come on simple voice votes that allowed legislators to skip going on record with their individual positions.

"I knew this was a tough committee. They vetted it through pretty well, they hopefully got it off their chest and we'll move to the floor," said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the bill's chief Senate stadium author after the marathon six-hour hearing. Rosen said she believes the bill will pass the full Senate.

Funding still a sticking point

The stadium's biggest hurdle might be a last-minute proposal to rely on user fees rather than money from electronic pulltabs and bingo in bars and restaurants as a means of paying the state's $398 million share. The idea, adopted at one point by the panel and later dropped after a series of abrupt political maneuvers, still has supporters.

"I do think this is the heart of the question Minnesotans are asking," said Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, the Senate Taxes Committee chair, referring to whether the stadium could be financed by user fees rather than expanded gambling.

But supporters of user fees said they needed more time to provide details of how high the fees would need to be. Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said swapping state revenue plans at such a late hour would likely scuttle the project.

"This really rips out the backbone" of the state's funding plan, Michel said of the user-fee proposal.

As a large and confused crowd watched the Senate panel's final moments, the committee recessed, putting the project in political jeopardy. It reconvened moments later and immediately adopted the stadium's public subsidy package without substantial changes.

Supporters gained another crucial victory when the panel tossed out a controversial plan to put video slot machines at the state's horse racing tracks as a means of funding the stadium. Rosen said that plan, known as racino, would sink the stadium bill. "Perhaps that is exactly what is intended," she said.

With time running short at the Capitol, Vikings officials sat glumly as legislative opponents spent hours intensely questioning what had been seen as relatively minor -- and, to some, generally accepted -- parts of the project's subsidy package.

In one surprising move, the Senate panel voted to deny a tax exemption for building materials and supplies and came within one vote of requiring the stadium to pay property taxes, even though the facility would be publicly owned. The exemptions are considered standard for publicly owned facilities.

"How many other public buildings in the state of Minnesota pay property taxes?" demanded a frustrated Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook. "This would be the only one."

State officials and private financial experts have repeatedly assured lawmakers that the funding plan relying on electronic bingo and pulltabs is feasible, but some legislators doubt it. Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, called the revenue estimates "fairy dust numbers."

Ortman said her own son has been asking whether she would support the project. "He's been working his mom," she said.

"The Vikings are an asset," Ortman told the panel. "They are an important part of the economy. But they ask us to do some extraordinary things on their behalf. We have thousands of businesses in the state of Minnesota that are struggling, [and] ordinarily it is not good tax policy to pick one business over another."

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Legislative committee scrutinizes Vikings stadium

    Saturday April 28, 2012

    Legislative committee scrutinies Vikings stadium

  • Callers to Dayton: pro-stadium, split on fireworks

    Friday April 27, 2012

    The two issues have been the top two for callers to the governor's office in the last week

  • Stadium bill author Julie Rosen, R, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Bakk, DFL, and Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R, had an animated meeting Friday night outside the hearing room during a break to figure out how to deal with the Racino amendment to her bill which was later defeated. Friday, April 27, 2012

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


NY Yankees - M. Pineda 12:07 PM
Toronto - D. Hutchison
Detroit - M. Scherzer 12:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Sale
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront 1:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Masterson
Cincinnati - A. Simon 3:05 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 20 4th Qtr 12:44
UCF 10
Troy 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Western Mich 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Marshall 2:30 PM
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Colorado 3:00 PM
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Chicago 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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 Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question