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Vikes stadium planners looking at $45 million shortfall

Efforts to ban Washington’s team name increase; officials to court big sports events; rocky year for venture capital; firm challenges Obamacare contraception provision; locavore trend in schools; and more.

At this point, what’s another $45 million? MPR’s Tim Nelson reports: “Sports Business Daily says the $975 million budget for the new Vikings stadium has a gap as much as $45 million ahead of a crucial milepost next week. The online publication says builder Mortenson Construction is ‘struggling’ to meet a $737 million budget for construction of the stadium itself. (The rest of the cost goes to land acquisition, design, landscaping, and non-stadium items related to the project.) Citing unnamed ‘industry sources,’ the SBD says the builder told the Vikings it would cost $782 million to build the stadium the team and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority had in mind.” I say we give e-pulltabs the “surge” treatment.

Also from Nelson: “Opponents of the Washington football team’s name have asked the word … not be used at the Metrodome. The Vikings play D.C. in Minneapolis on Nov. 7. Critics say Washington’s team name is a racial slur. And today, the Minnesota chapter of the ACLU added its opposition. … But Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen says there’s not much her agency can do about it. ‘You know the authority doesn’t really control the game-day experience, as far as the announcements or what goes up on the boards,’ Kelm-Helgen said today after a meeting at the State Capitol. ‘You know we’re talking with the team and the NFL and our attorneys as to what our options are and what can be done. Or what can’t be done.’ ”

And on the site, the AP says: “[A] hard push is on by the team and its landlord to lure a Super Bowl, college football championship game and Final Four basketball tournament. Minnesota lawmakers were told Thursday that officials are bidding to host three of the most visible events in sports soon after the stadium is built. Construction on the $975 million enclosed stadium will start this fall and it is expected to open by the summer of 2016. … A delegation associated with college football’s BCS will be in Minneapolis on Sunday during the nationally televised Vikings-Green Bay Packers game as they weigh sites for title games in 2017 and beyond. The delegation will get a presentation on the new stadium during its visit.” Try to keep them distracted from the “action” on the field.

Not a big year thus far for venture capital. Adam Belz of the Strib says: “Venture capital funding in Minnesota bounced back in the third quarter from a dismal first half of the year, but 2013 is still shaping up as a down year. Young companies attracted $84.8 million in nine deals, and the lion’s share went to medical device firms. But the medical device industry that’s so crucial for Minnesota’s economy is still attracting below-average venture funding, according to the MoneyTree Report by the National Venture Capital Association and Pricewaterhouse­Coopers (PwC), using data from Thomson Reuters.” It must be that Obamacare tax.

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Speaking of … The Strib’s Randy Furst writes: “A small Minnesota firm founded on Catholic principles should be exempt from the Obamacare requirement that a company’s group health insurance provide contraception coverage for women employees who want it, the company’s attorney told a three-judge panel of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday. The attorney said that Annex Medical, based in Minnetonka, should be exempted under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department countered that while the exemption is available for religious organizations, the company, which makes medical devices, has no legal grounds for opting out of that portion of the federal Affordable Care Act.”

The GleanThe locavore trend is spreading to Minnesota schools. Says Julie Siple at MPR: “Squash, cucumbers and tomatoes grown right here in Minnesota are winding up on the plates of Minnesota schoolchildren more often. Data released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the Farm to School program has exploded across the state in recent years. … Hopkins is one of the districts leading the way in this trend, as schools figure out how to efficiently prepare local food. New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show at least 179 Minnesota school districts now participate in Farm to School, covering more than half of the state’s student population. That’s a huge jump from 2006, when fewer than 20 districts participated.”

No has ever disputed that Our Favorite Congresswoman is a cash magnet. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib tells us: “U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has excelled in her ability to gather small contributions from donors. But this year, the amount of her donations that were under $200 topped the charts, drawing attention from the Federal Election Commission. In three months preceding July, she had taken in $614,000 in small donations, about 75 percent of her total haul for the quarter. Candidates do not need to disclose the names, occupations and address of donors who give less than $200 but for donors who give above that amount candidates need to disclose all that information. … Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign has been under considerable scrutiny for its campaign finance dealings. Thus far her congressional campaign, which has helped fund her presidential campaign debt, has not been under similar examination by regulators. The letter from the FEC may indicate a change in that.” It’s just another example of Big Gummint crushing the entrepreneurial spirit.

And you thought Thursday’s U.S. House hearings on Obamacare were goofy … Sally Jo Sorensen, at Bluestem Prairie, writes: “Jim Hagedorn is seeking the Republican endorsement to run against four-term Congressman Tim Walz in Minnesota’s First Congressional  District. Wednesday, his Hagedorn for Congress Facebook page posted a remarkable photo and caption:

After meeting in Belle Plaine with a mystery supporter (who is a brilliant campaign strategist and close friend), we headed to Mankato to campaign and meet with area business leaders. We had an excellent discussion with Mike Kennedy, who explained how excessive Federal regulation harms small business and limits employment opportunity for workers. Pictured with Mike and me is the famous Flo [of the Progressive Insurance commercials], who is signaling her support for my position to repeal Obamacare and replace it with free-market reforms.

Dude. Just stop. Flo is played by actress and comedian Stephanie Courtney, who has contributed $7950 to Democratic candidates and committees since 2008. … It’s unlikely that Courtney would give Hagedorn, son of former ultra-conservative representative Tom Hagedorn, the time of day, much less thumbs-up for his position on repealing Obamacare. After all, she contributed $5000 to the President’s 2012 re-election bid. Supporting Hagedorn’s bid? Doubtful, since she contributed $500 to the Dee Trip in March 2012 and threw in $1000 more at the end of July 2012.  She also supported pro-choice women running for office by giving $200 to Emily’s List in 2011, followed by $1000 in 2012.” Sometimes everywhere you look … it’s beyond parody.