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The Deets: Vikings Stadium Swing Votes on the Minneapolis City Council

Ed Kohler considers the possibility of certain Minneapolis city council members flipping on the stadium.

Cory Merrifield of Save The Vikes has published a list of the Minneapolis city council members he considers possible swing votes in favor of using public revenue to subsidize Cory Merrifield’s Vikings season tickets.

Seven of thirteen city councilmembers have already gone on record in opposition to Mayor Rybak’s stadium proposal, including city council members Merrifield considers swing votes. In general, they don’t oppose the team, but think the city should honor its charter, which states that spending of more than $10 million on a sports facility should be put to a vote.

Here is who Merrifield thinks might flip to choose violate the city’s charter for season ticket holders’ benefit:

Minneapolis council members

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If those are who Merrifield thinks are the fence sitters, he may be better off finding his checkbook and just paying for his share of the stadium rather than continuing to beg for handouts. For example:

Sandy Colvin Roy

In an interview following the hearing, Colvin Roy confirmed that she is opposed to the current plan if it does not include a referendum. She does not believe the 1997 vote meant that voters do not support public funding of stadiums, but rather that they want a say in the process.

“To me that referendum said ‘Don’t do it without our approval,’” Colvin Roy said. “And I think that is a message that gives the citizens of Minneapolis the opportunity to look at a stadium or sports facility question in the context of the economy and other things before them at the time.”

Gary Schiff

Schiff tells Dayton to wait

Minneapolis Council Member Gary Schiff said his constituents “don’t support subsidies for a professional sports stadium. And they certainly don’t support the financing plan that’s been presented to date.”

Schiff said that rather than criticize, Dayton should wait for Minneapolis to revise its plan and close a financing gap. “I believe the governor has set up the dynamic of pitting local communities against each other by requiring a local match,” Schiff said. “And the Legislature has yet to find financing for their share. So I put this back on the governor to reset the terms.”

Robert Lilligren

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Robert Lilligren Tweeted to me “I don’t support public $ for a stadium. Gaming either”

Kevin Reich

Pointing to the charter

Another undecided council member, Kevin Reich, prefers the Metrodome site. But he is concerned about overriding another charter requirement — that the public must vote on stadiums that cost the city more than $10 million. “I’m waiting to see the case why we wouldn’t just follow the referendum as it stands,” Reich said, noting that the 1997 vote to approve the requirement is “a standing opinion of the citizenry.”

As I look at it, the list of possible swing votes Merrifield has compiled is a list of city council members who have listened to their constituents. Constituents who have concerns about affordable housing, streets in need of repair, and the quality of the city’s schools.

These city council members remember the 1997 charter ammendment vote where a whopping 70% of voters voted to put future stadium subsidies larger than $10 million to a vote:

Specifically, it “prohibits the city from using the revenues raised from a local tax option or any other City resource valued at ‘over $10 million for the financing of professional sports facilities without the approval of a simple majority of the votes cast on the question, in a ballot question put to the public at the next regularly scheduled election.’ ”

The provision was added to the Minneapolis charter in 1997 by a public vote, receiving 70 percent of the votes cast.

When city council members like those mentioned above are faced with a decision on spending hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize a replacement NFL stadium, their options are pretty darn clear: oppose it, or put it to a city wide vote.

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If Minneapolis residents agree with the terms of the proposal, they’ll support it. If not, Vikings season ticket holders like Cory Merrifield may need to look elsewhere for season ticket subsidies, or simply write checks to Zygi Wilf for $10,000 per seat for a new stadium.

This post was written by Ed Kohler and originally published on The Deets. Follow Ed on Twitter: @edkohler


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