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Only those who benefit from a Vikings stadium would pay for it

ST. PAUL, MN – Only those who benefit from a Vikings stadium would pay for it, according to a plan unveiled today at the state Capitol. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to build a new multi-purpose stadium.

State Sen. Tom Bakk
State Rep. Morrie Lanning
State Sen. Julie Rosen
State Rep. Loren Solberg
NEWS RELEASE
Minnesota Legislature
Contact: Matt Swenson
(651) 297-8406
matt.swenson@house.mn
   
Monday, May 3, 2010

New stadium would be paid for without taking funding from schools, roads, or healthcare

ST. PAUL, MN – Only those who benefit from a Vikings stadium would pay for it, according to a plan unveiled today at the state Capitol. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to build a new multi-purpose stadium. The plan insists no state money for schools, roads, healthcare, or any other state programs can be used to build the new stadium.

“Our highest priority is balancing the state budget,” said state Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL – Grand Rapids), chief-author of the bill in the House. “Until the budget is balanced, we will not send this bill to the governor’s desk. We will not pass a bill that adds a nickel to the deficit, or takes a dime from nursing homes, schools, roads, or hospitals.”

Under the proposal rolled out today, only those who benefit from the stadium would contribute to its construction. The Vikings would pay $264 million up-front for construction costs. The remaining $527 million price tag would be financed over 40 years ($31.9 million per year) from four specific annual revenue sources:

• Area hotels (1.5% surtax) $8 million

• Jersey purchases (6.875%) $16.9 million

• Sports-themed scratch off $5.5 million

• Rental cars $5.5 million

These four revenue sources would generate $35.9 million per year. The bill requires that any cost overruns would be paid for in full by the Minnesota Vikings, the team would sign an unprecedented 40-year lease, and a clawback provision that protects taxpayers if the team is sold.

Legislators stressed the urgency of acting now.

“The Vikings only have 20 games left in the Metrodome, and there are two weeks left of session. It’s clear that the window to build this stadium is closing,” said state Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL – Cook), chief-author of the bill in the Senate. “If we wait another year to move this project forward, it will cost another $50 million. This bill gives us the opportunity to put 13,000 people back to work, bringing $300 million in new wages to Minnesota. And it guarantees the Vikings will stay in Minnesota for the next 40 years.”

Bakk and others pointed out that the new stadium would not just be a site for 8 football games per year. If built, the facility would host up to 300 major events annually – from high school and amateur sporting events to concerts and conventions. In addition, lawmakers are seeking a commitment from the NFL to host a Super Bowl and the NCAA for Final Four tournaments at the new stadium.

“Purple Pride reigns in Minnesota, and people overwhelmingly want the Vikings to stay in Minnesota for many years to come.  Keeping the Vikings in Minnesota will require a local government partner as well as enabling state legislation,” said state Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead), co-author of the bill in the House.

“If the Vikings were to leave, Minnesota would lose a state asset and $20 million dollars or more in tax revenue every year,” Lanning continued. “That’s money we use to fund our schools, nursing homes, and public safety. As we work to rebuild Minnesota’s economy, we have to do everything within reason to maintain our quality of life and keep our state moving toward economic recovery.”

State lawmakers stressed the importance of having open and transparent public discussion about the stadium proposal.

“No deals have been made, and no plans are set in stone,” said state Sen. Julie Rosen (R – Fairmont). “Like every other bill the legislature considers, this bill will be fully vetted in committee. Amendments will be offered, and public testimony will be taken. This decision will not be made in some back room – it will be made by all Minnesotans through an honest and responsible legislative process.”

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Sen. Bakk can be reached by phone at (651) 296-8881 or by email at sen.thomas.bakk@senate.mn

Rep. Lanning can be reached by phone at (651) 296-5515 or by email at rep.morrie.lanning@house.mn

Sen. Rosen can be reached by phone at (651) 296-5713 or by email at sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn

Rep. Solberg can be reached by phone at (651) 296-2365 or by email at rep.loren.solberg@house.mn