House approves amended Vikings stadium bill

Vikings stadium rendering

The Minnesota House passed an amended stadium bill that would increase the Vikings' contribution by $105 million. The Senate is expected to vote on its stadium bill on Tuesday, with the differences to be worked out in a conference committee.

After more than eight hours of debate and more than three dozen amendments offered, the Minnesota House voted 73-58 to pass the Vikings stadium bill with one significant amendment.

Added to the bill was a decrease in the public investment by $105 million, presumably putting that added financial contribution on the Vikings, who have already committed $427 million to a new stadium on the site of the Metrodome. The Vikings have said in the past they wouldn't increase their contribution. The City of Minneapolis committed to a $150 million investment and the bill negotiated with Gov. Mark Dayton had called for the state's contribution to be $398 million.

"I believe it eliminates some of the barriers on both sides of the aisle," Rep. Pat Garafolo said before his amendment passed 97-31.

"There is a limit to how much we can squeeze. … I just want to caution you that while I understand the motivation here, if we squeeze too much, we may end up not having a deal. This team has to be profitable," said Rep. Morrie Lanning, author of the bill.

The $975 million stadium is expected to create 13,000 jobs and the Vikings' lease at the Metrodome has expired, although the team has already committed to play in the Metrodome for the 2012 season.

The new stadium would regularly hold 65,000 fans and be expandable to 72,000 seats to host a Super Bowl. I would increase the square footage of the current stadium from 600,000 square feet to 1.5 million square feet.

"The Metrodome no longer stands up to the level of quality that Minnesota is known for," Lanning said shortly before the vote was taken.

The Senate will take up its stadium bill Tuesday morning.

Supporters and detractors of the bill in the House regularly pointed out concerns with the funding mechanisms – an increase in charitable gambling to include electronic pull tabs – and hoped to elicit a bigger contribution from Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, but they admitted that may not happen.

"If there were a way to keep the Vikings here and have the Wilfs pay 100 percent of the stadium cost … but they simply won't be paying 100 percent of the stadium," Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter) said. "I firmly believe the Vikings will leave Minnesota in the next couple of years if we do not pass this bill."

If the Vikings would leave, the community would lose $26 million per year in income tax revenue from the Vikings and would lose $800 million in revenue over the course of 30 years, supporters argued.

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