A core group of lawmakers trying to draft legislation for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium has tentatively decided that authorizing electronic pull tabs in bars could fund the state’s share of the project.
The group has been meeting informally and includes both Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the chief House and Senate stadium legislation authors. Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, said that after the latest meeting Monday night the group was “fairly confident” that authorizing electronic pull tabs in Minnesota’s bars could generate $72 million annually in new state revenue for a stadium.
“It’s such a complex issue that even if you make progress [that] doesn’t mean you’ve resolved everything,” said Morrow, a member of the group. He said the group was “a half-step closer than we were a week ago” toward producing long-delayed legislation for a stadium public subsidy package, but said many details still need to be resolved.
“Honestly, I don’t know” how close legislators were to finalizing legislation, he said. “We don’t know the [stadium] site, and without knowing the site, we don’t know the dollar amount” of how much the project will cost.
Although the Vikings have preferred building a $1.1 billion stadium in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills, Gov. Mark Dayton has in recent weeks pushed the focus to the site of the Metrodome, where the team has played for three decades.
Dayton and Rosen have on multiple recent occasions said they favored electronic pull tabs as a funding source for the state’s contribution to the project, which was originally set at $300 million. Stadium proponents have argued that electronic pull tabs – unlike a casino in downtown Minneapolis or racino, putting slot machines at the state’s horse racing tracks – would be less likely to face legal challenges.
But Morrow said he and others were concerned about the long-term dependability of electronic pull tabs, saying that the expansion of internet gambling could cut into future revenue. “I’ve raised questions about what is the long-term stability of that projection,” he said.