Stadium bill off the skids and charging ahead

Multiple sources close to the Minnesota Legislature are saying that a Vikings deal is closer than we think. Recent developments indicate that the stadium drive is coming off skids this week and things will start moving in the House of Representatives.

For the past few weeks lawmakers have been asking for three things:

  1. The support of the Minneapolis City Council – which it received last Monday.
  2. An equitable agreement between the charities and the state regarding electronic pull tabs – Which MPR is now reporting a deal has been reached.
  3. A back up revenue stream other than general tax funds that the state can pull from in the event electronic pull tab revenues fall short – which House File 1485 shows will pull a back up revenue stream from a luxury tax on suites, Vikings scratch offs and a ticket surcharge.

As of Sunday afternoon, April 1st (not a joke) MPR’s Tim Nelson reports that King Wilson, Executive Director of Allied Charities of Minnesota accepted a final counter offer from the legislature that would give the charities a more equitable share than previously offered. We should point out that the previous offer wasn’t being held up because it awarded more to the Vikings than it did to the charities; it was because the state wanted more than the Vikings and charities combined. This was never a dispute between the Vikings and Allied Charities of Minnesota.

What to do if electronic pull tab revenue falls short

In early March stadium bill author Julie Rosen testified along side of the Minnesota Department of Revenue who stated revenues exceed the dollars needed to meet the amount promised the charities and fund the $398 million proposed by the state describing the forecast as “extremely conservative”. Several legislators on Senator Ray Vanderveer’s committee expressed concern that it still wasn’t enough.

“At what point do we stop believing the Department of Revenue,” asked Sen. Rosen.

To address those concerns, tomorrow Representative Morrie Lanning will be proposing that fans ante up by contributing through user based fan fees, and if needed go towards paying the state’s share. If the electronic pull tabs revenue does meet or exceed revenues the money collected from user based fan fees could be put into the general funds or used for facility maintenance or future stadia needs.

Our hope is that if that game plan gets traction in the House that it will get the eight votes needed in Vandeveer’s committee to move the bill forward in the Senate too.

On the same page

Monday at 6pm, the House Commerce and Regulatory Committee hearing will be the first time the Vikings, Minneapolis and Chief stadium bill authors will be on the same team, pushing for the same legislation. The legislature has no more excuses or places to hide. It is now down to principle – They either want the Vikings to stay and will do something about it or they take issue with an existing form of gambling administered in a different form.

House Commerce and Regulatory Chair Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) is feeling optimistic, “Maybe I’m too optimistic, and maybe I’m naïve but there’s room to get this thing fixed”.

In the Red Zone

We have frequently said that getting the support of the Minneapolis City Council was going to be the toughest part. Friday night Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak went on Almanac and stared down the “tough as nails” Cathy Wurzer.

“We are not going around the referendum. The money that will pay for the stadium does not violate the charter. For the first time ever they will give us some control locally. We’ll use that for some local uses like the Target Center. That doesn’t violate the charter. Certainly, our attorney doesn’t feel it.”

“We’ve solved one problem after the other. We’ve figured out how to redo the Metrodome and have the Vikings gone for only a year. We’ve come up with a very good funding strategy. Now it’s really up to the state. The Governor has been amazing on this, both Senate leaders Republicans and Democrats have come forward; it comes down to the House.”

“Minneapolis stepped up. After many years, we have never been this close. And if the House delivers, we’ll get a stadium.”

                ~ Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

Rybak is spot-on accurate. And with next week’s hearing(s) in the House we just might see the twinkle of light forming at the end of the tunnel. Business leaders, organized labor and Vikings fans are now all pushing legislators to get this deal done.

Please take a moment and contact your lawmakers here. You can also contact the members of the House Commerce and Regulatory Committee here, asking them to pass the Vikings stadium bill through their committee.

With this recent momentum we can secure the Vikings a new home in 2016 by passing a stadium bill in April!



About the Author

Founder and author of SavetheVikes.org. Born and raised in MN, Cory has been a lifelong Vikings fan. Season ticket holder, stop by and see him in section 218! cory.merrifield@savethevikes.org