Vikings Stadium Bill Passes Senate, Heads to Dayton

The House-Senate conference committee's revised bill was passed by the House early Thursday morning and subsequently approved by the Senate Thursday afternoon.

Following a morning of debate, the Minnesota Senate passed the Vikings stadium financing bill at about 2 p.m. Thursday, with a 36 to 30 vote.

The Minnesota House had voted 71 to 60 in favor of the revised financing plan at 3:30 a.m. Thursday. The plan calls for a new downtown Minneapolis Vikings stadium-and requires the team to chip in $50 million more than it initially planned to contribute.

But the team supports the new bill, which will now progress to the governor's desk.

The revised bill was drafted by a House-Senate conference committee that was charged with ironing out the differences between the House's and Senate's earlier stadium financing bills.

The conference-committee bill calls for a $975 million, 65,000-seat roofed stadium to be built on the site of the Metrodome-but it has shifted some of the costs from the state to the team.

Under the terms of the new bill, the team would pay $477 million of construction costs, Minneapolis would pay $150 million, and the state would contribute $348 million-$50 million less than the original plan called for.

The bill shifts additional costs to the Vikings, boosting the team's contribution by $50 million-representing a compromise between the House and Senate bills passed earlier this week. The House on Monday passed a version of the bill that called for the state to pay $105 million less than previously proposed, with the Vikings paying $105 million more. A Vikings spokesman had called that proposal “not workable.” Meanwhile, a version passed Tuesday by the Senate would have shifted $25 million from the state's portion to the Vikings.

The Vikings appear to be on board with the new plan: “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,” team spokesman Lester Bagley said following the House vote, according to a report by the nonpartisan House Information Services. “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.”

Money from electronic pull tabs and bingo would be used to pay the state's share of the stadium cost. If those gambling revenues fall short, backup funding sources would include a sports-themed lottery game and a 10 percent admission tax on luxury seats.

Minneapolis' $150 million contribution would come from redirecting sales taxes currently being used to pay off construction bonds for the city's convention center; the shift would occur after those bonds are paid off in 2020.

The conference-committee bill restores exclusive, five-year rights for the Vikings to obtain a professional soccer franchise to play at the stadium and gives the stadium naming-rights revenue to the team. The bill also calls for the Vikings to sign a 30-year lease at the new stadium, and Minneapolis would retain its right to spend tax money on a renovation of the Target Center. The financing plan gives St. Paul $2.7 million annually for 20 years “for the operating or capital costs of new or existing sports facilities.” (Learn more about what the St. Paul funding could mean in this report by the Pioneer Press.)

Under the terms of the bill, the team could also add a retractable roof at its expense.

The bill will now head to Dayton, who has been a key advocate for the project. If Dayton signs the bill, the Minneapolis City Council would have 30 days to ratify the tax shift that pays for the city's share of the Vikings stadium, according to a report by Minnesota Public Radio. Once approved, initial utility work could begin this summer, construction could start next year, and the stadium could open in 2016.