House gives its final OK to ‘People’s Stadium’"MN Sports"
A new home for the Minnesota Vikings is a Senate vote and a few gubernatorial pen strokes away from getting state approval.
Sponsored by Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), HF2958 was passed 71-60 by the House. It now goes to the Senate, which is expected to take up the bill Thursday morning.
The bill calls for a $975 million, 65,000-seat roofed stadium to be built primarily on the Metrodome site on the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis. The team would cover $477 million of construction costs; the state $348 million; and Minneapolis $150 million. The team can also add a retractable roof at their expense.
The team contribution in the bill is $50 million higher than Vikings’ officials initially said the team was willing to contribute; however, it is $55 million less than the contribution request passed by the House earlier in the week.
“I’m very pleased to announce that the Vikings have agreed to terms with state leaders to finance and construct a new multi-purpose stadium in Minnesota,” said Lester Bagley, the team’s vice president of public affairs and stadium development. "We’ve agreed to contribute up front $477 million, which remains the third-largest private contribution in NFL history. We’ve agreed to contribute $13 million annually in operating costs, which is now 54 percent of the life-cycle costs of the project. … The Wilfs have stepped up and made a huge commitment to Minnesota and a huge commitment to Minnesota Viking fans. They’ve made a commitment to secure this franchise and to stabilize this franchise for the future generations in Minnesota."
"We’re very, very pleased that the Minnesota Vikings and State of Minnesota have come to an agreement. We look forward to a long lifetime association," Lanning said. He noted that the Minneapolis City Council has to vote favorably within 30 days for the stadium to go forward.
Team officials say the 30-year-old Metrodome is antiquated and does not provide the needed revenue to remain competitive nor provide a proper fan experience.
Money from electronic pull tabs and bingo would be used to pay the state’s share of the stadium cost. Supporters noted that charities would get tax relief and more gambling proceeds while the state also would get more revenue. Minneapolis would kick in its $150 million by extending until 2047 and redirecting sales taxes used to pay off construction bonds for the city’s convention center to the stadium once the convention center bonds are paid off in 2020. The sales tax money comes from hospitality taxes collected from hotels, bars and restaurants.
In case the gambling revenue does not cover the state share, the bill contains two blink-on taxes: a sports-themed lottery game that would produce at least $2.1 million per year and a 10 percent admission tax on luxury seats that is estimated to bring in $1 million annually.
Nonetheless, some members voting against the plan did so because they oppose any increase in gambling. Others said the state is overestimating how much money the expanded gambling will raise.
“We’re robbing from the poor to subsidize the rich,” said Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe).
Some members said the state should not be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a stadium for a billionaire, and for a team that is not going to move if a deal were not completed this year.
“This will be a disservice to the state for many years to come,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester). “I think the state got rolled.”
Supporters countered that the facility would be home to just 10 Vikings’ games a year, and possibly one or two in the postseason, leaving the other 350 or so days available for other events, including high school and other amateur sports, monster truck rallies and other community events. They also spoke about the estimated 13,000 construction jobs to build the facility.
“It’s a great opportunity to put our tradespeople to work,” said Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings).
A portion of the city sales tax money would also be reallocated to potentially rehabilitate the Target Center in Minneapolis. Lanning said that without that provision, the city would not support the stadium deal. The City of St. Paul, under the bill, would receive $2.7 million for 20 years beginning in Fiscal Year 2014 “for the operating or capital costs of new or existing sports facilities.”
Other bill parts include:
• a 30-year lease;
• retaining the exclusive five-year agreement for the Vikings to bring in a professional soccer team, a provision previously eliminated by the Senate;
• the stadium be operated in a first-class manner "consistent with other comparable" National Football League stadiums;
• team gets stadium naming-rights revenue; and
• construction cost overruns are the responsibility of the builder.