Dayton, DFL leaders now open to new GOP stadium push after meeting with leadership
After appearing to reject GOP leadership’s new plan for a roofless Vikings stadium and dismissing it as a political stunt, Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL leaders now say the proposal is worth considering.
Following a meeting that lasted more than an hour on Wednesday, and less than 24 hours after House and Senate GOP leaders floated the plan for a roofless stadium paid partially with general obligation bonds, Republican legislative leaders and the governor sounded a more positive note about the possible deal to end the session.
Dayton, who just a few hours earlier called the plan a “hare-brained scheme,” said the proposal is “absolutely worth pursuing because I want to find a solution.” Dayton said he still questions whether or not the plan is viable, and prefers to move forward with the current bill that was negotiated between the governor, legislators, the city of Minneapolis and the team.
The proposal floated by GOPers on Tuesday will likely need one major change — a roof. Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter told lawmakers that in order to meet the requirements to use general obligation bonds for the project — which must serve the greater public — the stadium would likely need a roof to be usable all year for various events.
Dayton said the addition of the roof brings the proposal into the “realm of reality,” but Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk questioned the legality of using general obligation bonds to help build a stadium that will be leased out for decades by the Vikings, a private entity.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean said the discussions were “focused” and “fruitful” and centered around a funding mechanism for the stadium — the biggest point of contention for both Republican caucuses. Under the agreement between the team and state and local officials, the state’s portion of the stadium is funded by an expansion of charitable gambling.
“Most fans that I talk to and the people at Cub Foods really don’t know or don’t care about ‘GO’ and ‘GF’ [bonds], they want a, ‘Go, Vikings.’ They want a solution,” Dean said.
Dean said they are now working to get the governor, team and city of Minneapolis on board and iron out the fine details. Dean did not give any more specifics on how much they would need to bond for the stadium, but estimated it would be about 20 to 25 percent of the total cost of the project, or north of about $250 million.