After years of dealing and debate, Vikings get their biggest win

Senate's stadium bill OK ended string of long nights, closed-door dealing.

Ending a decade of turmoil, the Minnesota Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a $975 million Vikings stadium meant to anchor the team in Minneapolis for a generation.

The vote ended a turbulent session that saw the project nearly die several times, only to get revived and then dominate the Legislature's final weeks, as opponents ultimately succumbed to intense pressure.

"We delivered," said a triumphant Sen. Julie Rosen, the stadium bill's sponsor, as purple-clad, horn-wearing fans cheered wildly from the gallery overhead. "We are going to have a first-class stadium we can all be very, very proud of."

The 36-30 vote in the Senate came only after the Minnesota House sweated out an overnight session in which bare-knuckled bargaining sessions went on past midnight and final approval came at 4 a.m.

In the end, a cluster of GOP lawmakers in both bodies joined forces with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, business and labor leaders to muscle the proposal through.

The plan moves to the Minneapolis City Council later this month. A council majority has already committed itself to the deal, so that vote appears unlikely to be a stumbling block.

Thursday evening, Dayton, facing a packed room of supporters and legislators, was eager to give credit to others.

"This was such an incredible team effort all the way through," he said. Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning, the chief House author, were "absolutely heroic," Dayton said.

As jubilant fans poured through the Capitol singing "Skol, Vikings," team owner Zygi Wilf flew to the Twin Cities to celebrate passage of one of the largest building projects in state history, accompanied by his brother, team President Mark Wilf.

In a late development that secured the last handful of votes, legislative negotiators insisted on boosting the team's share by another $50 million to lower the taxpayers' share. The team will pay $477 million -- just under half the total cost. Early plans had the public subsidy at more than 60 percent.

"I wouldn't have wanted to go in here today without that additional $50 million," Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, said before the vote.

The final agreement came together in secret Wednesday as top legislators, team executives, state business leaders and the Dayton administration pounded out the final disagreements over the size of the team's contribution and whether to impose a menu of stadium-related taxes to pay the state's share.

Negotiators retained a much-criticized expansion of charitable gambling to pay the state's $348 million contribution. Minneapolis' $150 million share is unchanged, but the city now can use excess sales tax money to renovate its aging Target Center.

Legislators also brought back a provision that gives the Vikings exclusive rights to recruit a professional soccer team to the state, a franchise that could help pay for a retractable roof.

2016 opening

The team plans to play its 2016 season in the new stadium, which will sit on the site of the old Metrodome, but on a considerably larger piece of land featuring a large sports plaza for tailgating.

The jubilant feelings in the Capitol were countered by some searing, bipartisan criticism from those on the losing side of the debate.

Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, who battled to replace gambling with user fees, said he is upset that the final deal was put together in private by legislators who took care not to violate the letter of the open meetings laws. "Isn't it about not violating the spirit of the laws?" he asked.

Howe said he is convinced gambling revenue will fall short. "There will be an I-told-you-so moment," he said.

As a backup, the plan would impose a series of "blink-on" stadium taxes should revenue from the new electronic pulltabs and bingo fall short of covering the state's share. Those taxes -- which include a 10 percent tax on luxury suites -- would be limited to stadiumgoers. Also part of the backup is a sports-themed lottery game expected to bring in at least $2.1 million a year.

Legislators have fought for months over whether and where to situate a replacement to the Metrodome, one of the oldest facilities in the country housing an NFL team.

After a grinding week and overnight floor sessions, even the strongest critics grudgingly conceded there was little they could do to stop the stadium.

Sen. Benjamin Kruse resorted to paraphrasing country singer Kenny Rogers.

"Time to walk away, the dealing has been done -- and we lost," said Kruse, R-Brooklyn Park.

Tax bill action

The stadium bill was not the only source of drama in the final hours.

Overnight, the Senate also passed a $46 million package of business tax breaks. The vote came less than a week after Dayton vetoed a larger package that would have blown a $200 million hole in the state budget in coming years.

The package includes a one-year freeze on statewide business property taxes, tax breaks for small companies when they buy equipment and tax credits for companies that hire veterans. It will add slightly to future deficits.

"You knew when you were putting this together that the governor was going to veto it," said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm. "Why would you bring a veto-bait bill to the governor's desk when there are so many good things for so many members in here?"

Dayton's staff said he has not had time to review the bill, but he will give it full consideration.

After the stadium vote, Rosen stood in the half-empty building and said the fight, at times, tested her resolve to run for re-election. She battled the team, Dayton's administration and her fellow Republicans.

As evening approached, Rosen was not interested in reliving the day.

All she wanted, she said, was a beer.

baird.helgeson@startribune.com • 651-925-5044 jennifer.brooks@startribune.com • 651-925-5049

  • 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 0:04
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 110 1st OT 1:44
Oklahoma City 115
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 70 4th Qtr 4:53
San Antonio 107
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 1st OT 4:33
Detroit 1
Pittsburgh 0 1st Prd 5:29
Colorado 0
Montreal 0 1st Prd 6:22
Anaheim 1
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 51 2nd Half 8:38
Oklahoma State 67
Cincinnati 43 2nd Half 7:40
Tulsa 39
USC 58 2nd Half 9:20
UCLA 69
Miss State 54 2nd Half 4:57
Vanderbilt 56
Utah State 51 2nd Half 3:35
Wyoming 74
St Johns 40 2nd Half 13:47
Marquette 34
SIU Edwardsville 30 2nd Half 16:17
Eastern Ill 42
Air Force 18 1st Half 4:10
Fresno State 28
Nebraska 12 1st Half 7:27
Illinois 17
Colorado State 24 1st Half 7:23
Nevada 18
Boise State 21 1st Half 9:28
San Jose St 11
San Diego St 10:00 PM
UNLV
Oregon 10:00 PM
Oregon State
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Hawaii
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