(This post has been updated)
The Minnesota Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday to exclude state tax dollars from being spent on a proposed new soccer stadium near downtown Minneapolis.
The widely bipartisan, 61-4 vote in favor of the ban came during debate on a broad budget bill covering state departments and operations. The Senate later approved the full bill, but a companion House bill funding state government does not currently include the soccer stadium provision.
The amendment's effect may be largely symbolic in any case. The private group that's landed a Major League Soccer franchise has not asked for a direct state subsidy, and the Senate amendment does not tie the hands of elected officials in Hennepin County or Minneapolis, who are likely to be involved in funding talks.
Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, proposed the ban in the form of amendment clarifying that "no state funds may be appropriated or tax expenditures used to fund the construction of a new major league soccer stadium."
A private ownership group led by Dr. Bill McGuire has landed a Major League Soccer franchise and is eyeing a site near the Minneapolis Farmer's Market for a stadium for the Minnesota United FC. The group met last week with legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton, and indicated they'd be seeking a property tax exemption and a sales tax break on construction materials for the new stadium.
The sales tax exemption would carry a price tag of about $3 million, against a private investment of around $250 million.
Monday's overwhelming Senate vote was yet another sign the group has a tough road ahead in seeking any public support, however small. Dayton, DFL and GOP leaders at the Capitol and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges have all previously voiced opposition to a public component to the plan.
No proposal for public involvement in stadium construction has been introduced in either the Senate or House.