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Vikes stadium finally a done deal with Senate approval

Senser defense wants TV juror interviews; “double sale” leads to charges; Minnesota drought nearly over; the impact of a Walker recall; and more.

The deed is done. The Minnesota Senate Thursday afternoon approved the Vikings stadium bill. Doug Belden of the Pioneer Press reports: “The Minnesota Senate has approved a financing plan for a new Vikings stadium. By a 36-30 vote … senators passed the bill to fund a new $975 million stadium. The bill now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.”

Earlier, at the Strib, Jim Ragsdale wrote: “The plan to build a $975 million sports palace on the site of the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, with the state share funded by a huge expansion of bar-gambling, still has many critics. But they don’t appear to have the support to stop the bill from reaching Gov. Mark Dayton, the stadium project’s most ardent supporter at the Capitol. ‘We made the best arguments we could to demonstrate problems with the bill. We weren’t successful,’ said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, who argued for an emphasis on ‘user fees’ such as taxes on tickets and parking, and a much more limited state role. ‘It seems to be the die is cast here.’ … [GOP Sen.John] Howe said he remains convinced the gambling revenues will fall short and that taxpayer dollars will eventually be needed to pay the stadium debt. ‘There will be an I-told-you-so moment,’ he said. … Democratic Sen. John Marty, a staunch stadium critic from Roseville, conceded early in the morning that the agreement has a ‘99.9995 percent chance’ of passing.”

Tim Nelson at MPR reports: “Only a state Senate vote, the governor’s signature and approval from the Minneapolis City Council stands between the Vikings and a $975 million stadium that could be ready for the 2016 season. … the team owners’ long insistence that they wouldn’t give any more financial ground on the stadium deal, they agreed to increase their contribution by $50 million, minutes before the Legislature was to take up the deal. ‘The Wilfs and the Vikings are stepping up for $477 million, and $13 million a year,’ said Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley. ‘It is a heavy lift. But it’s the right thing to do for Minnesota.’ … Under the deal, the state’s share is $348 million, down by $50 million from the original deal struck by the Dayton administration in March. The state’s share will be paid mostly by new, electronic pull tabs and bingo.  The original House version, which was approved earlier in the week, had called on the Vikings to pay an additional $105 million, and would have given the state a portion of the stadium naming rights. Not everyone was convinced that the last-minute change had improved the deal. Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, was among the no votes. ‘I’m not a person who says we shouldn’t build any stadium. But I think the state got rolled. Our constituents got rolled,’ she said.” Maybe they’ll learn to cross the street the next time they see those guys coming.

Doug Belden’s PiPress story says, “Here is how some other key issues were resolved in the conference committee bill:
• Vikings retain stadium naming rights.
St. Paul gets $2.7 million annual payment to offset investment in Minneapolis, likely to help build a new St. Paul Saints ballpark.
Construction cost overruns are the responsibility of the builder; operating cost overruns are responsibility of public stadium authority.
Minneapolis retains charter exemption language designed to allow it to spend money to renovate Target Center.
Sports-themed tipboards survive but are not taxed.
King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, said the conference bill retains a split in charitable gaming tax revenue that is less favorable than they wanted: The state would get $59 million per year and the charities would get $13 million.”

The GleanAt ESPN, Kevin Seifert is saying: “As we await what are likely the final steps in approving the Minnesota Vikings‘ new downtown stadium, let’s take an early look at some of the questions that will remain after Gov. Mark Dayton presumably signs the bill:
What will the new stadium look like?
The frantic pace of this legislation produced very few details on the design and features of the facility. There have been general terms that include 65,000 seats and 150 luxury boxes, but those are general estimates. The team released three images last month … But those are only concepts and a significant amount of architectural, engineering and design work remains to be done.
Where will the Vikings play during construction?
The team has said it will play in the Metrodome in 2012 and has expressed hope that it will be able to spend at least a portion of the three following years there as well before the new facility opens in 2016. But that timetable is subject to the unfinished work … The expectation is that there will be at least one season, and probably a portion of a second, played at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Field. That will require a multi-million upgrade at ‘The Bank’ to include, among other things, heating coils for the outdoor field.”

I think we can agree that when it comes to football, or anything people really care about, that Minneapolis charter talking about referendums … is kind of joke. Eric Roper of the Strib writes: “The final Vikings stadium bill, passed by the House early this morning, includes language that nullifies a key section of the Minneapolis city charter. The legislation features catch-all language that ensures Minneapolis voters will not take a vote on the final stadium deal, despite a requirement in the city’s charter. That charter requirement has been the biggest sticking point in gaining support for the deal in Minneapolis. Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal argued the stadium plan did not trigger the charter referendum requirement anyway, but the bill essentially prevents anyone from challenging that argument in court. It also means that the Minneapolis City Council, when it takes up the Vikings stadium legislation next week, will vote to nullify sections of the city’s own charter.” I mean, really. What can you say?

The Amy Senser trial isn’t exactly over yet. David Hanners at the PiPress reports: “The attorney for Amy Senser has subpoenaed a television station for raw footage of interviews it did with jurors in the woman’s just-completed vehicular homicide trial. The subpoena issued Tuesday and entered in the court docket Wednesday demands that KARE-11 TV turn over the interviews of two named jurors ‘and any other jurors.’ The subpoena was filed by Senser’s attorney, Eric Nelson. His office said he was in court Thursday morning and not immediately available for comment. … Nelson has said he plans to appeal. In his subpoena, Nelson demands that KARE turn over ‘raw audio and video footage of interviews with jurors Jameson Larson and Anthony Sather,’ as well as any other jurors the station interviewed. The subpoena says that it was served on May 7 on the television station’s business manager, Paula Flom. In the broadcast interviews, at least one juror talked about what factors weighed most heavily in Senser’s guilty verdicts.”

If it worked so well the first time, heck, try it again. Pamela Powers at the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram writes: “A Wheeler, Wis., couple have been charged with felony theft after police say they sold property they already had sold to someone else. Douglas A. Snyder, 49, and Lisa A. Snyder, 44, each are charged with being party to the crime of theft by false representation of more than $10,000. The charge carries a penalty of $25,000 or 10 years in prison. … According to the criminal complaint: In early March, Shane Cutting reported to the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department that he was in the process of buying 5 acres north of Wheeler from the Snyders for $10,000. However, records from the county register of deeds show that two months earlier, the Snyders had sold the same property, plus another 3.25-acre parcel, to Andrew DeRaad for $16,000. Cutting and Laminda Hanson had been intermittently paying the Snyders for the property since 2003. Cutting gave the Snyders a car valued at $1,500 for a down payment and produced receipts showing he and Hanson had paid $10,500, including the car, to the Snyders.”

The drought is over — just about everywhere in the state. The AP says: “The drought is officially over for nearly all of Minnesota. The new map issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday shows that only about 10 percent of Minnesota remains in drought, the state’s best showing since last September. From late January until just seven weeks ago, 96 percent of the state was in a moderate to severe drought. The shrinking remaining pockets of drought include part of the North Shore, some of northwestern Minnesota along the Canadian border and part of south-central Minnesota. Greg Spoden of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group said the data show the drought has broken. He said the recent heavy rain has recharged dry soils, which will be good for agriculture. But because the soil has captured nearly all that precipitation, he said, it will still take some time for some larger lakes to rise to normal levels.”

Columnist Mike Nichols at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes about the national significance of his state’s recall election: ‘[Gov. Scott] Walker has become a nationwide symbol of something far bigger than Act 10, which scaled back collective bargaining rights for most public employees. He has become the center of a historic clash over the size of government and what it means to be a democracy. Here in the center of the maelstrom, most of the debate long ago devolved into simplistic name-calling. Just about everyone and the neighbor they no longer talk to has already decided who to vote for. The race is so close that some guy in an apartment on the outskirts of Green Bay probably will cast the deciding vote and help change America. OK, maybe that’s going a little too far. It could just as easily be a grandmother in Portage. Or a last-minute voter in Poplar. The part about America, though, is wholly possible. The Wall Street Journal has written that the June recall could be ‘the most important non-presidential election in a decade.’ Regardless of who wins, there will be an impact on politics and policy and economics nationwide.”