Dayton calls session on Vikes stadium

Published 12:15 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday he would call a special legislative session this fall for a vote on a Minnesota Vikings stadium bill, even if there’s not a specific proposal tied to one of several possible sites.

The Democratic governor met behind closed doors with legislative leaders to discuss the team’s bid for a new, partially taxpayer-funded stadium. Dayton set a Nov. 23 deadline for a special session, and said between now and then that he would push the team, lawmakers and other interested groups to assemble a stadium bill that could get an up-or-down vote by the state’s 201 legislators.

“I don’t expect the outcome to be foreordained,” Dayton said. And, he said he’s willing to convene lawmakers even if a final proposal is not fully assembled; his only requirement to call the special session is that the four top legislative leaders agree to limit its agenda to the stadium issue only.

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The Vikings have for years sought the state’s help to build a replacement to the aging Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, which team officials have called no longer sufficiently profitable — raising the specter the team could move to Los Angeles or another city seeking an NFL franchise. In recent months, the Vikings paired with Ramsey County Board members to push a plan to build a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills, a suburb north of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

With Ramsey County committed to a $350 million share and the Vikings about $400 million plus overruns, state lawmakers would have to come up with $300 million.

Dayton, along with House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, have all said the money can’t come from the state general fund — leaving limited options that could include specialty taxes tied to the game, proceeds from expanded gambling, or other options not yet publicly aired.