Dayton: Vikings stadium talks focused on Arden Hills

Published 10:31 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he’s ready to throw his political weight behind a new, publicly subsidized football stadium that would be built on a site preferred by the Minnesota Vikings.

Following three days of meetings with various stadium stakeholders, including Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, Dayton said that within the next three weeks he plans to unveil a detailed proposal tied to the Ramsey County site — including how to raise the state’s $300 million share toward a project estimated at $1.1 billion. The Democratic governor did not reveal if he has a preference between several financing options already floated including new state sales taxes, fees on game-related activities, tax revenue from an expansion of gambling, or something else.

Once a proposal is in hand, Dayton said he’d call a special legislative session before the end of November, allowing lawmakers to vote on the plan. But he still must convince skeptical Republican legislative leaders, who couldn’t block him from calling a session but whose support would be crucial to passing any stadium bill.

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“I think there’s a way to keep the Vikings in Minnesota without the extraordinary step of a special session,” said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood. He didn’t say what those steps could be, but noted that special sessions have typically been reserved for responding to emergencies like natural disasters.

“The state’s hurting right now,” Dean said. “People are really anxious about the economy and their jobs, and it’s a different place than it was a few years ago when the Twins moved their stadium legislation through.”