10 issues or players to watch in stadium debate
• Gambling: Watch for pushes from racino advocates, and from backers of electronic pull tabs in bars statewide.
•Competing venues: Minneapolis’ Target Center, home to the NBA Timberwolves, needs improvements. St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, home to the NHL Wild, is seeking some debt relief. Lobbyists from their respective cities will help make their cases.
•A baseball park, too: The St. Paul Saints want a new downtown stadium, and will seek some state aid.
•Lobbying power: Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, who are based in New Jersey, might need to spend more time in Minnesota than they usually do to get a stadium deal done. But if they don’t, they will be well represented; 11 lobbyists are on their payroll.
•A wild-card plan: Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett and his plan to bring the team to Arden Hills is a wild card worth watching.
•The legislative bill: Sen. Julie Rosen, R- Fairmont, has so far taken the lead this session. She’s expected to back the first Vikings bill; that might not happen for a month or so.
•New legislative leaders: Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers will have to send signals to their caucuses. As Dayton and Mondale have pointed out, a Vikings stadium deal will need GOP votes for passage in the two GOP-controlled chambers.
•The governor’s guy: New Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chairman Ted Mondale will be a key player, speaking for and with Gov. Mark Dayton, who seems to want to get a deal done.
•The horse guy: Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson will be a man in the middle. His company will benefit mightily if a racino plan is passed.
•The football guy: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell visited Minnesota last month and said all the right things about wanting to keep the Vikings here. The threat to move the team to Los Angeles remains distant – what with other franchise candidates to move, too -- but the drumbeat could pick up. That could be Goodell’s job.
— Jay Weiner
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