Vikings One Step Closer To Leaving As Legislators Call For Vote On Stadium?
No stadium, no more Minnesota Vikings. Even if you aren't a sports fan, if you live in Minnesota you must realize the millions of dollars in revenue the state will lose if they leave. Meanwhile the average citizen would feel zero impact in regards to the cost to build it. The Minnesota Twins got a stadium with out a vote and it has rejuvenated the area and has been a boon for area businesses and the state. If Minnesota starts to lose professional sports franchises, then Minnesota becomes Iowa -- only colder.
The state's top two legislative leaders now want local voters to have a say in a new Minnesota Vikings stadium project, a move that potentially creates a major obstacle for the plan.
"I'd like to see a referendum in Ramsey County," said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, on Thursday. Koch added that there "should be a referendum" regardless of where the stadium is built.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said he also wants a countywide vote wherever the stadium is built. "I like the idea of having a referendum," Zellers said.
The owners of the Vikings have an agreement with Ramsey County officials to build a more than $1 billion stadium at the old U.S. Army munitions plant in Arden Hills. But stadium backers believe that voters would be likely to reject a countywide half-cent sales tax planned to fund the project.
"I think that puts the kibosh on the stadium project," said Republican Rep. Morrie Lanning, the chief House author of the stadium proposal. Nodding to the team's lease at the Metrodome that expires after this year, he added: "The Vikings will be sold, and they will move."
Lanning said the chances of a special legislative session this year for a Vikings stadium subsidy package are now "slim."
He said there is no longer enough time to resolve the project's financing package and surrounding road issues and then round up the votes needed for passage.
Instead, the stadium plan would probably have to wait until legislators convene in late January, Lanning said.
"The reality is, it's too late to do a referendum this year," said Lanning, of Moorhead. "If you do a referendum next year, you can just about [say] goodbye to any hopes on the stadium."
The referendum positions taken by Koch and Zellers are the latest in a string of seesaw stadium developments this week, including word that the Vikings might be willing to raise their financial stake in a new stadium and Gov. Mark Dayton's openness to allowing Ramsey County voters to weigh in on the proposal.
Koch dismissed the idea that requiring a referendum would in effect doom the project, although polls have consistently shown that public subsidies for a Vikings stadium are opposed by a large majority of Minnesotans. "I don't necessarily buy that," she said.
A Vikings stadium proposal introduced earlier this year -- and led by Lanning and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont -- would have allowed a county to go ahead with the project without a referendum.