A Vikings stadium bill that allows Minnesota cities to bid against each other to offer tax breaks and other incentives could be introduced at the Legislature as soon as Monday.
Yes, there are still the small matters of a $1 billion state budget deficit to resolve, a General Assistance Medical Care fix that apparently doesn’t fix anything, whether $408 million in hypothetical federal health care funds can be counted on, and a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on last year’s unallotment that could upset the whole budget applecart to deal with before the Legisature’s May 17 deadline.
But heavy hitters in both houses of the Legislature and on both sides of the political aisle are finding enough time to line up behind a plan that would allow cities, or counties, to choose from a menu of local funding options to pay the cost of a $791 million, retractable-dome stadium, according to multiple media reports.
In the Senate, Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, are putting the finishing touches on the proposal, which could offer Minneapolis the option of rebuilding a stadium on the current site of the Metrodome, or letting local governments set up a stadium commission that would put together its own funding package.
Local funding options could include using taxes currently going to the Minneapolis Convention Center, a sports memorabilia tax, a lodging tax, rental car tax and more.
In the House, Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, head of the Ways and Means Committee, would carry the bill, which might meet Pawlenty’s requirement that no state tax dollars would be used.
If the bill passes before May 17, it would set up a scramble among Minneapolis, St. Paul and perhaps other cities and counties to see if they want to come up with their own funding schemes for the stadium.
Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson told the Pioneer Press that the taxes paying for the Minneapolis Convention Center raise $4 million annually, and pay for operations, improvement bonds and future capital expenditures, as well as the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The convention center’s bonds will be paid off in 10 years, but city leaders are reluctant to commit that money to something else, she said.
Other possible locations mentioned in the story include the South St. Paul stockyards, Brooklyn Center and Bloomington.