As the legislative session reaches the two-week warning, the hurry-up offense has been engaged in the stadium game.
Two bills are to be introduced soon that would help to fund a multi-purpose stadium that would house the Minnesota Vikings – one for the current Metrodome site, and one that is not site specific.
At a press conference, Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids) said the Vikings would pay $264 million in upfront costs, with the remaining $527 million financed over 40 years from four sources:
• jersey sales would be subject to the 6.875 percent state sales tax ($16.9 million);
• a 1.5 percent surtax on area hotels ($8 million);
• a sports-themed scratch off game ($5.5 million); and
• an increased rental car tax ($5.5 million).
Cost overruns would be paid by the team, which would sign a 40-year lease.
“It’s very clear the majority of Minnesotans want the Vikings here, and no General Fund money would be used,” said Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead). He added that if the team were to leave, the state would lose $20 million or more in annual revenue, funds that go toward things like health care and education.
By having those who benefit pay for the stadium, I believe we can be successful in passing this legislation, Solberg said.
Echoing the sentiments of those who wanted a larger capital investment law earlier this session, Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) said now is the time to act because the project would provide employment for thousands of construction workers – bringing in an estimated $300 million in new wages – and financing is at a 20-year low. Waiting another year would add $50 million to the price tag, he said.
Solberg said this bill is not a legislative priority as the clock winds down to the constitutional adjournment deadline of May 17.
“Until the budget is balanced, we will not send this bill to the governor’s desk,” he said in a press release. “We will not pass a bill that adds a nickel to the deficit, or takes a dime from nursing homes, schools, roads, or hospitals.”
Solberg, Bakk and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) said the bills would follow the committee process. “This bill will go through all the proper channels,” Rosen said. The House Local Government Division is scheduled to have a hearing at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development, called the bills, “a great framework to move this forward.” He said the team contribution is based on a one-third cost of an open-air facility. A fixed roof doesn’t benefit the team; it benefits the state and community, and they should pay for that. He also indicated the team owners aren’t excited about a 40-year lease, but would give it consideration.