Minnesota motorists could drive around with license plates commemorating the Vikings football team under bipartisan legislation introduced this week.
Drivers would be required to contribute at least $30 a year to the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to get the plates, which would be modeled after the state's critical habitat license plates. Those plates, featuring artwork depicting wildlife ranging from rusty patched bumble bees to moose, have helped raise as much as $6.5 million in a year.
"This is a way to connect with passionate Vikings fans in our state and is a potential opportunity that doesn't really exist yet to help generate dollars to help make an impact through the Minnesota Vikings Foundation," said Brett Taber, Vikings vice president of social impact and executive director of the foundation.
The Vikings Foundation is a nonprofit public charity organization that focuses on youth health and education initiatives. Recent projects include a food truck that serves healthy meals and a program that helped pay for remote educational needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taber said about 19 other states with 24 National Football League teams have similar specialty license plate programs. The foundation submitted a required survey to the Department of Public Safety in October that estimated about 1 million Minnesotans could have some level of interest in specialty Vikings plates.
Sens. Julia Coleman, R-Chanhassen, and Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, are sponsoring the bill in the GOP-controlled Senate. In the DFL House, Reps. Erin Koegel, DFL-Spring Lake Park, and John Huot, DFL-Rosemount, are sponsoring a companion bill introduced on Tuesday.
"The Minnesota Vikings have demonstrated a commitment to our state through the work of its charitable foundation and their continued work to support Minnesota families and children," Coleman said in a statement. "By allowing Vikings fans to get a special Vikings license plate, fans will be able to join with the team in their initiatives to help kids across the state."
The proposed legislation would take effect Jan. 1 if passed this session.
Koegel, the House sponsor, said she plans to propose additional legislation this year that would remove the requirement that specialty plates must be approved by the Legislature and make it the purview of the Department of Public Safety.
But for now, Koegel, an avid football fan, is an eager proponent of clearing the way for Vikings plates this session.
"If we can cheer a team on or show our support while also contributing to a charity that helps out our Twin Cities and state — that's pretty fun," Koegel said.