After announcing the budget deal agreement Thursday, the visibly weary Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders were asked about a new Vikings stadium.
Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers all seemed to roll their eyes at the question. They said they haven’t even thought about the Vikings for weeks.
But the Vikings have been thinking about it, and are ready to pounce, says a Star Tribune story:
The Vikings’ proposal would include at least $407 million from the team, $300 million from the state and $350 million from Ramsey County, largely through a countywide sales tax increase. The proposal, despite heavy media speculation, has yet to have a hearing at the State Capitol this year.
But the Vikings indicated that, with the budget shutdown likely ending, it was time to focus on the stadium. The deal at the State Capitol, said Lester Bagley, the team’s vice president for public affairs and stadium development, “means it is time to move the stadium discussion forward.’
Bagley said that as recently as Thursday he had phone conversations with Ted Mondale, Dayton’s chief stadium negotiator, Ramsey County officials and legislators. Bagley said the discussions would continue Friday.
“We are very close to an agreement. It’s not complete, but it’s close enough that we believe we can iron out the final details in discussions beginning” Friday, Bagley said.
Nearly all of the stadium discussions with public officials have been held in private.
The remaining issues, said Bagley, were the stadium’s management and operations, construction and design as well as “size and scope.” The question, he said, is, “can we reduce the size of the project and therefore [the] cost?”
Clearly, not all legislators are in the mood for stadium talks or deals, but the Vikings are confident, the story said:
As to whether the anti-tax GOP would approve a deal, Bagley said, “it’s up to them, we’ve done what we’ve been asked.”
Does he think it will pass in a special session? Bagley said it has a “reasonable chance.”
But Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said now was not the time to bring up the Vikings stadium at the State Capitol. “I don’t think it fits in at this time at all,” he said Thursday.
“I would hope no one would bring that up,” he said, referring to the upcoming special legislative session.