Senate Gopher stadium bill puts up $1 million for neighborhood mitigation

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Though still facing major changes on its way to the governor’s desk, a Gopher football stadium bonding bill approved May 9 by the state Senate incorporates wording and $1 million for neighborhood event impact mitigation.

“It was crucial to get mitigation language into the bill,” Sen. Larry Pogemiller (DFL-59) said in an interview. If passed, the bill would set up a $1 million fund, to be managed by the University of Minnesota’s board of regents. The interest earned would be used to help mitigate impact of stadium events. The use of funds would be coordinated through the university’s Stadium Area Advisory Group.

Pogemiller’s district includes the neighborhoods in Southeast Minneapolis around the proposed 50,000-seat, on-campus stadium. Neighborhood associations lobbied Pogemiller, state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, and City Councilmembers Cam Gordon and Diane Hofstede.

Pogemiller said he thinks a stadium bill could be enacted into law and a stadium built, even as the bill faces changes in Senate and House conference committees, including changes to increase the odds the governor would sign it. The House version includes no impact mitigation wording or funding, Pogemiller’s aide, Hue Nguyen, noted.

Veterans’ Memorial Stadium
In an amendment to the bill, the name proposed for the $248 million stadium in the bill is Veterans’ Memorial Stadium. The original 1920s stadium was named Memorial Stadium. Pogemiller objected to selling the naming rights for the stadium. The university’s proposed the name TCF Bank Stadium. The bank has committed a $35 million corporate sponsorship toward stadium costs. The bill, however, prohibits funding sources from nonpublic entities as consideration for naming rights.

The bill also prohibits funding for the stadium from increases in university student fees or charges.

Station 19
The bill stipulates that the board of regents “may not acquire the Fire Station Number 19 building for the construction of the stadium and related infrastructure, either directly or indirectly, through the exercise of the power of eminent domain.” However, the bill leaves the option open for the university to take parking spaces at the station, as the university has said it wants to do, according to Nguyen. The eminent domain wording is not in the House version, she added.

Funding strategies include a 13 percent wholesale tax on sports memorabilia sold by vendors at baseball, basketball, hockey, and football games. The tax would be part of the omnibus tax bill.

University Impact Report
In addition to the impact of the stadium, the bill asks the university and the city to work with the stadium area advisory group to prepare a report “on the impact of the university on the surrounding community and the relationship of the community to the university.”

The report is to assess “the direct and indirect impacts of the university on the surrounding community, addressing issues of pubic safety, transportation, and housing quality, availability, and affordability.”

The report is also to assess opportunities and strategies to improve coordination between the university, the surrounding residential and business areas, and the city.

It would assess “strategies for strengthening and revitalizing the neighborhoods and commercial business areas and supporting economic development.”

Finally, the report is to include consensus recommendations from the university, the city, and the Stadium Area Advisory Group for “short and long-term solutions to ongoing issues and concerns.” It would include costs and benefits of the recommendations, and the report would be submitted to the governor and the legislature by Jan. 15, 2007.

(To read the bill online, go to “www.senate.mn”:http://www.senate.mn, enter SF2460 at Get Bill. Click on Go. Then, click on Text, view Senate File 2460, 3rd Engrossment.)

The Senate on May 9 also approved stadium bonding bills for the Twins and the Vikings teams. May 22 is the deadline for the legislative session.

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