Stadium's gun clause has lawmaker concerned

A gun clause in the new stadium lease has a lawmaker concerned. Plus, 22 firms are vying to underwrite the stadium, and the building is also becoming an avenue for protests against the Redskins name.

A gun clause in the new Minnesota Vikings stadium lease prompted questions Thursday from a state lawmaker and a scramble by the building's landlord to explain the reasons for adding it.

The lease for the planned stadium was adopted last week, but the gun provision didn't receive attention until The Associated Press reported on it this week. At issue is a clause that bars the team and the authority from holding events or using the stadium property "for any gun shop or other store whose primary business is the sale of guns or other weapons." The provision also bars events staged around erotic materials and drug paraphernalia.

Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington said in a letter that the restriction could discourage hunting and outdoors groups from scheduling offseason events at the $975 million stadium, which is being built with a partial public subsidy.

"The People's Stadium should not, under any circumstances, arbitrarily prohibit these types of events from taking place if they comply with other stadium rules and regulations, as well as federal, state and local laws," Garofalo wrote to authority members. "Outdoor trade shows and events bring in folks from across the state to Minneapolis, and it would be a shame if this incredible new facility were to shut them out."

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said the intention was to make sure new retail stores within the stadium were gun-free. Hunting expos, where groups and vendors show off the latest gear, would be considered on a case-by-case basis, she said.

"We did not intend to make a policy one way or another to allow it or restrict it," she said.

Under existing policy, fans aren't allowed to bring guns into NFL stadiums on game day.

Outdoors shows haven't been held regularly at the Metrodome, where the Vikings now play. Bill Lester, the former executive director of the Metrodome's operating body, said prior leases didn't have a clause with gun restrictions.

"As far as I recall, there was not a demand for it or a move to prohibit it," Lester said.

22 FIRMS VIE TO UNDERWRITE STADIUM

Twenty-two financial institutions have applied to help underwrite the $498 million taxpayer share of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Minnesota Management and Budget released the list Thursday. It includes some of the nation's most prominent financial institutions, including U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo Securities, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

A spokesman says Management and Budget will take a few weeks to select an underwriter. More than one firm could be chosen. John Pollard says no firm date has been set for issuance of the bonds, which will be executed over a period of about two years.

The Vikings organization is responsible for the other roughly $477 million share of the new stadium. Groundbreaking is planned for November, with plans to open the stadium in time for the 2016 season.

REDSKINS DISPUTE LANDS IN MINNESOTA

A long-running dispute over the name of the Washington NFL franchise has flared up in Minnesota, where the construction of a new stadium for the Vikings has provided an entree for American Indian groups and supporters who consider the Redskins name and logo racist.

They're asking the agency building the stadium to ban the word "Redskins" on publicly owned signs or address systems there, as well as at the existing Metrodome when the Vikings host Washington Nov 7. Opponents of the Redskins name say they'll protest before the game.

"There are literally a score of federal, state, county, municipal laws in effect that all prohibit the offensive R-word, just like the N-word, from being used in an environment where the public assembles," Alan Yelsey, an activist who helped make the request to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, told Minnesota Public Radio on Thursday.

MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen told the Star Tribune the board heard and understood those concerns when they were raised at last week's meeting but that it's too early to make a move.

"The NFL has very specific rules about what happens when teams play in our facility, and that's what we're looking at with the NFL and our attorneys," she said. "At this point, I'm not even sure what our options would be."

Stadium authority spokeswoman Jenn Hathaway said the board may have a formal response next week.

President Barack Obama told The Associated Press last week the team should consider changing the name.

"I've got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it," Obama said.

Team owner Dan Snyder said in a letter to season-ticket holders Tuesday he respects the feelings of those who are offended. "But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too," he said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Tuesday he has never considered the name derogatory.


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