The publicly subsidized Minnesota Vikings stadium proposed for downtown Minneapolis survived the Senate Local Government committee on Friday evening with more DFLers than Republicans voting for it. Five of six DFLers, who are the Senate’s minority caucus, voted in favor of the bill. They were Sens. Chris Eaton, John Harrington, Ken Kelash, Roger Reinert and Katie Sieben. (Eaton initially passed on the roll-call and later switched to “yes.” Sen. Mary Jo McGuire, DFL-Falcon Heights, voted against the bill.
Of eight Republicans on the panel, three of them supported the bill: Sens. Carla Nelson, John Peterson and Claire Robling. Dissenting were Republicans were Sens. Roger Chamberlain, Benjamin Kruse, Warren Limmer, Ray Vandeveer and Pam Wolf.
The outcome was the polar opposite of the House committee vote on Monday where only one Democrat voted in favor along with a majority of Republicans en route to a 9-6 defeat.
Appearing with legislative leaders on Twin Cities Public Television’s public affairs program Almanac just minutes after the vote, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said there would be a floor vote in his chamber despite Monday’s setback.
“I think in the committee it will pass and move to the floor,” Thissen said.
The $978 million stadium on the site of the Metrodome where team currently plays would be paid for in part by the state borrowing $398 million in bonds that would be serviced with revenue from allowing electronic pulltabs and bingo. The team, under the deal, sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, would be responsible for $427 million.
The hearing, in which testimony was limited to the principal players like Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission head Ted Mondale, was absent the heated rhetoric that typified Monday’s House hearing. Lawmakers dug into the details of the bill, addressing questions like the clawback provision if the team is sold after the stadium is built and the establishment of an authority to manage the Vikings and other future stadiums.
Among the significant amendments that were added to the bill by the Senate panel, Kelash successfully offered an amendment that placed a 10-percent surcharge on box suites.
Another major change to the bill was successfully won by Harrington. His amendment, which passed on a voice vote, addressed a complaint among Ramsey County legislators that the bill provides financial assistance to Target Center in Minneapolis. That would put the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul at a competitive disadvantage, Harrington said. The move complicates the bill’s future because support among a majority of the Minneapolis City C0uncil, which is crucial for the stadium’s prospects of getting built with public funding, is believed to be predicated upon Target Center being part of the deal. Rybak said in response to Harrington’s amendment that he’s “frustrated” that St. Paul interests haven’t brought forward any suggestions for compromise on the Xcel center.