Vikes Stadium Bill Stalls Amid Funding Concerns

A proposal to build a $975 million Vikings stadium received its first hearing in front of a Senate committee on Wednesday, but the committee indefinitely postponed a vote on it.

A bill proposing to build a $975 million Vikings stadium on the current Metrodome site suffered a setback after its first legislative hearing before a Senate committee Wednesday, according to media reports. The committee decided not to hold a vote on Wednesday and postponed it until a later, unspecified date.

Governor Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and Vikings representatives unveiled the plan earlier this month to build a new stadium at the downtown Minneapolis site. The Vikings would pay $427 million, or close to half, of the building cost, while the state would contribute $398 million and the City of Minneapolis would pitch in $150 million. Under the plan, the state's portion of the funding would be raised through an expansion of charitable gaming-which would require Minnesota to authorize electronic pull-tabs.

Several lawmakers reportedly expressed concern during Wednesday's hearing that the proposal to use electronic pull-tabs to finance the state's portion of the stadium might not work.

“I think gambling is an unstable revenue stream,” Senator Benjamin Kruse of Brooklyn Park said at the hearing, according to a Minnesota Public Radio report. “I think right now the way the legislation is written, if that revenue doesn't come in, that we will be subsidizing it through the general fund because there's no connection between the revenue coming in and the dollars going out.”

Following the hearing, Senator Julie Rosen, the bill's sponsor, told the Star Tribune that she would ask Senator Ray Vandeveer, the committee's chair, to reconsider the legislation by Friday after stadium negotiators reexamined the bill's most controversial issues-including the state's plan to raise its $398 million share. She added that state officials were considering using user fees-such as sports memorabilia fees-as a backup source of funding, if tax revenue from electronic pull-tabs wasn't enough.

At least one committee reportedly needs to vote in favor of the bill by Friday in order for it to keep moving in the current legislative session.

Vandeveer would not say why he decided not to call a vote on the measure, according to the Star Tribune. However, he did tell the newspaper that he shared concerns about the state's share of funding for the project.

Dayton, meanwhile, reportedly sent a letter to Vandeveer reiterating his support for the project. He said in his letter that the project would provide up to 8,000 construction jobs and 5,000 jobs among suppliers during the three-year building project, according to the Star Tribune.