Clouds appear over Vikings stadium plans

ST. PAUL -- Doubts are surfacing about whether a pre-Thanksgiving special legislative session to approve a Minnesota Vikings football stadium is feasible.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton explains that a just-finished Friday meeting produced no breakthroughs on building a new Vikings football stadium. With him are House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority leader Amy Koch.

ST. PAUL -- Doubts are surfacing about whether a pre-Thanksgiving special legislative session to approve a Minnesota Vikings football stadium is feasible.

"I would not say that we are ready for that at this point," Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said after meeting today with Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen. "That's the governor's call and we're just going to continue discussions and keep working."

Dayton said about his planned Nov. 21 special session: "It remains to be seen."

Koch, Dayton, Thissen and Zellers met for more than two hours, but told reporters there were no agreements to report.

"All I can say is, 'Stay tuned,'" Democrat Dayton said.


Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said the process of drawing up a stadium construction plan in complex. "It's going to take a very creative solution; that takes time."

Lawmakers have discussed stadium plans for years, knowing this is the final year of the Vikings Metrodome lease.

Dayton did not say if he could meet his self-imposed deadline to draw up a plan by Nov. 7. He said he needs information about the stadium by Friday, when he is due to leave for the governor's deer hunting opener in Biwabik.

The governor had wanted to release his stadium plan Nov. 7, giving the public and lawmakers two weeks to examine it before a special session.

Dayton wanted the session to wrap up in the three days before Thanksgiving, but that may not be possible. Legislators would need to declare an emergency to suspend state rules, something they appear unwilling to do for a stadium. If they do not suspend rules, legislators would need a session of least five days.

Stadium bill sponsor Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, has said that too many lawmakers will be gone after Thanksgiving to hold a session. And, he added, chances for a stadium funding bill to pass would drop in the regular session that begins Jan. 24.

The best chance of passing a stadium bill, he said, is during a special session.

Dayton, Koch and Zellers said they discussed potential funding for a $1.1 billion stadium and took a closer look at three downtown Minneapolis sites Mayor R.T. Rybak wants considered for a stadium. The Vikings want to build the facility in northern Ramsey County's Arden Hills.


"We didn't take anything off the table," Dayton said, adding that he remains open to any Minnesota stadium site.

The governor said he sent his staff away with instructions to bring back more information before he meets with lawmakers again next week.

Kay among questions that must be answered is how the state would pay for its $300 million portion of stadium costs. Ramsey County wants to raise its sales tax to pay its $350 million, with the Vikings paying the rest.

Lawmakers are all over the field on how, and if, the state should fund a stadium. Ideas include allowing more gambling, with some proceeds going to the state; spending some of the sales tax increase voters approved in 2008 for outdoors and arts programs; and taxing sports memorabilia.

The Vikings say they will not sign a new lease to play in the Metrodome after this year and Dayton says that means the team may move out of Minnesota.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

What To Read Next
Get Local