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After meeting, Dayton appears more open to GOP’s new stadium plan

MinnPost photo by James Nord

House Majority Leader Matt Dean defended the GOP caucus's stadium dealings.

What a difference in tone a few hours made at the Capitol Wednesday where Vikings stadium politics continued to play out.

In the morning, Gov Mark Dayton strenuously criticized Tuesday’s surprise Republican stadium proposal, calling it “harebrained,” “cynical” and “absurd.”

But after an hour-plus meeting with GOP and DFL legislative leaders, he was ready to temper those remarks — and his initially strong opposition to the plan, which called for an open-air stadium that would be “roof ready.”

“I’m not going to let my personal feelings about how other people conduct themselves get in the way of trying to get a resolution,” he told reporters. “My goal is to reach a solution.”

Even so, Republican legislative leaders emerged from the talks with few details or answers about their proposal — other than agreement by all sides that the plan likely would require a roof. (Later, the House released this overview.)

The “secret deal” that leaked out Tuesday would finance infrastructure-only improvements for the stadium. The plan calls for a state contribution of about $250 million, about a quarter of the near $1 billion project, House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, told reporters.

It would use general obligation bonds — which Dayton objects to — to pay the state share of the stadium and would get tacked onto the existing bonding bill.

Dean, who did most of the talking on Wednesday, said that many of the details of the Republicans’ new proposal are in limbo.

He said nonpartisan staffers are still working on getting specific data about the state’s potential share of a stadium.

 Dean did confirm, though, that the stadium would likely require a roof to be eligible for bonding — which, Dayton said, “puts us back in the realm of reality.”

That would also up the state’s portion of the cost.

Dean criticized reporters for spreading misinformation Tuesday about the half-formed plan, which quickly received outright rejection from Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. He said reports of the plan got out in between meetings with House and Senate Republicans.

“Unfortunately somewhere in between, word of that discussion got out,” he said. “The discussions from yesterday kind of went off from there into many probably errant directions.”

The last-minute “switch” from charitable gambling revenue as the state’s funding source also caused Dayton and the DFL legislative leaders to pause.

Paul Thissen Mark DaytonMinnPost photo by James NordHouse Minority Leader Paul Thissen explained the DFL's view of the latest stadium developments as Gov. Mark Dayton looked on

“There are some serious questions, I think, that need to be asked about their proposal,” Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said. “I think it’s awful late in the game probably to get some of those answers.”

Both he and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen had called for a vote on the original proposal, which they said was properly vetted through the appropriate committees.

That plan would use enhanced charitable gambling — electronic pull-tabs and linked bingo — to finance a state share of $398 million. The Vikings would be on the hook for about $427 million, and Minneapolis would contribute $150 million.

But the DFLers seemed resigned to dealing with the new proposal and didn’t appear confident that the established bills –- which they pointed out were authored by Republicans – would received a full floor vote before the session adjourns.

“We are where we are,” the governor said.” They’re in the majority. They control the floor.”

Dean was hazy on whether the new proposal would received committee hearings and said more likely it would just get tacked onto the existing bonding bill.

There are also questions whether the city of Minneapolis or the Vikings would accept the proposal, which Dean said were being addressed immediately.

‘We also need to talk to the Vikings to see if there’s an appetite to move forward with this as a possible solution,” he said.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, who’s been tightlipped about how he would vote on the original proposal, had a meeting scheduled with Rybak Wednesday afternoon, a House spokeswoman confirmed. It’s unclear if there are other meetings scheduled.

With little time left in the session, it’s unclear where things go from here, but Dayton pledged openness to the proposal.

“We’ll give it a chance. I want to see the stadium. I want to see the jobs.”

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Comments (11)

Minneapolis taxpayers still on hook for $675 - $890 millions

It IS NOT $150 million !! Not in the real world - only in the imaginary schemes of people who won't be paying the money.

All these parties, including the Mayor, those 7 City Council members, and virtually everyone in St. Paul, are ignoring the people of Minneapolis and the charter of the city.

This would NEVER pass in a referendum in Minneapolis.

Dayton will sign any deal

It's been obvious for quite some time now that Dayton will sign any stadium bill that lands on his desk. He's long since abandoned any pretense of representing his actual constituents in this matter.


From watching local news, one would think that the stadium vote is the most important matter of the decade for the legislature and governor and that we'll have a utopian situation once the stadium bill is passed. It's obvious that they are simply lackeys for the business people who benefit from this boondoggle, at the expense of the general public.

Every time a new tidbit of information comes forth, it's obvious that the city of Minneapolis is on the hook for a larger and larger share of the costs. It's easier for those people outside of Minneapolis to support a project for which others pay a larger portion.

Gov. Dayton is Wise Enough to Make Sure

That the Republicans in the legislature remain in full possession of the rope by which they are SO determined to (figuratively) hang themselves.

He knows they WILL NOT be able to pull together either one of these stadium deals, both of which contain aspects that are massively offensive to their Republican base.

In the end, he will be able to say he did everything in his power to facilitate a stadium deal, but the Republicans, who were in charge of the legislature, couldn't put one together.

This will become just one more reason (one of hundreds) for another group of dedicated Minnesota voters to elect Democrats to the legislature in the fall.

Stadiums and hijacked political systems

One could just chalk all of this up a conflicted political leadership but the thing that's so depressing is that a Viking stadium could tie up our political system at all. We need to start talking about the phenomena of corruption in this state. The most obvious and devastating political move for either the Republicans or Dayton at this point would be to set the stadium completely aside in order to focus on the peoples business. Come out and announce that as popular as the Vikings may be we now only have weeks left to complete the peoples business and a Vikings stadium is just not on the list of peoples business.

There is a easy out. In case anyone hasn't noticed, it's the Vikings who want a new stadium, therefore it's up to the Vikings to produce a stadium plan. Obviously the Vikings and their champions have failed to produce a plan that legislators can vote on, so why is anyone OTHER than the Vikings responsible for this failure?

And by the way, if we didn't do year to year leases at the dome, the Vikings would have a much more immediate problem, where they gonna play football THIS year? Ask yourself, how much is an NFL franchise without a stadium worth?

Jobs for the short term?

Forget the stadium and if the Vikes leave, so be it!

Maybe some systemic thinking would help the boosters see that the short term jobs are not as beneficial as a "jobs program" funded by a truly increased tax on the rich and a return to the progressive taxation of the 1950's that made us a state that works!

It might mean a tax increase for everyone who makes over $30K, but, if it was passed as an interim with a drop dead end date maybe we could prevent going further down the rat hole!

Zig has the money and if he wanted to he could just build it and tell the ticket buyers they have to pay increased fares because the corporates need nicer boxes and he needs to make a bit more.

Breaking point

There's a well known phenomenon in mediation, a point at which the parties have been at it for so long and want so desperately to be done with the process that every rationale they came in the door with is abandoned and they're ready to do whatever needs doing in order to be done. This can be particularly true when one of the parties is playing with other people's money.

It looks like we're just about there, ready to hand the Vikings the biggest win of their 50+ years in Minnesota.

We could be there. Or, legislators could simply be too cowardly to go into the November elections without having provided their constituents the circus some demand. Either way, if we come out of this session with a new Vikings stadium built with public funds, Minnesota loses.

Weak-minded leaders, corrupt legislature for sale on the cheap

The Vikings are looking at roughly a billion dollars in gain, and are alleged to have spent a mere $4 million on lobbying since 2005.

Political bribery pays off, big time !! It produces ROI you can't get anywhere else.

But in order to take advantage of this fabulous bargain, you must have weak leadership and venal politicians on the other side of the negotiating table; the process must be corrupt; and you must have the gall to demand vastly in excess of what you truly require.

All the conditions are fulfilled here.

The question is: are there enough legislators in St. Paul with the cojones to say "No" ?? They certainly are lacking here in Minneapolis.

i'm with paul...

Paul Udstrand wrote
"if we didn't do year to year leases at the dome, the Vikings would have a much more immediate problem, where they gonna play football THIS year? Ask yourself, how much is an NFL franchise without a stadium worth?"

Why do we keep acting like the Vikings have us over a barrel? They need us more than we need them & its time to start approaching the stadium 'negotiations' accordingly.

neutral press

Unfortunately, we will get nothing like a full, neutral account from the StarTrib which desperately wants the stadium. I have never read a full account of who pays what, now and in the long run, and any recommendation that the business interests pushing this and the owners pay all of it, without leaving huge maintenance bills to . . . who? Ramsey County?

Solution: stop reading it, never buy it, never advertise in it

This rag has nothing to offer except promotion of its own interests.

The great majority of what they print comes straight off the wire feeds. You can get this same info on the internet, and in real time.