Rep. Murray: Budget takes a priority over stadium bill

Published 5:15 pm Saturday, April 2, 2011

A bill to fund a new Vikings stadium could be on the horizon — but legislators say the budget needs to be taken care of first.

Rep. Rich Murray, R-Albert Lea, said he won’t offer his support for a stadium until the budget is balanced. Increasing taxes to pay for the stadium is also not an option for Murray.

“My focus at the Capitol is still about creating a jobs environment in this state,” Murray said. “Number two: how do we fix the deficit problem that we’re in? Until we get those two things done, it’s really hard to focus on a stadium.”

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The full details of the bill are expected to come out this week. Two Republican lawmakers said Thursday night the plan will be to raise up to $300 million through state sales taxes on sports memorabilia and luxury box purchases, an income tax surcharge on NFL players, naming rights and a lottery game.

An unspecified host community would also kick in funds, likely through a local or regional sales tax. The Vikings would pay a third of the total cost.

“My point all along has been that if they can come up with a bill that is not going to tax the people of the state of Minnesota and that is not going to take money out of our general fund, I would be fine with it,” Murray said.

The Vikings’ support is important when looking at options for a stadium, according to Murray.

“The team needs to be on board with it,” he said. “They stand to gain the most.”

The Republican House speaker and Senate majority leader wouldn’t promise committee hearings on the stadium bill until after they finish the state budget.

“We’re trying to fix the budget right now, and different groups are having to give up a lot of stuff. It doesn’t look very good if we’re all out there saying, ‘Let’s get this Vikings stadium done,’” Murray said.