Tonight's the night…maybe.
After 13 years of actively seeking a new stadium, the best shot the Vikings have ever had to obtain a new stadium may be decided by the time the Minnesota State Legislature is required to end its regular 2011 session at midnight local time.
Following a weekend in which the state tackled the controversial same-sex marriage proposal and saw the City of Minneapolis struck by a significant tornado, the legislative clock stops at midnight – whether the legislators get around to discussing or voting on the stadium issue or not.
Sports fans have been forced to become political dabblers in the last three weeks, as the sports departments of both major newspapers have been conspicuously absent from the ongoing stadium discussions. While there has been a public willingness of the Vikings and Ramsey County to pick up about 70 percent of the project, questions surrounding costs to complete the project, as well as profit sharing once it opens, remain and could bog down a final decision.
If there is good news for stadium proponents, the anticipation is that the state isn't going to get its budget question completed by tonight's deadline. The local Twin Cities political media are expecting a special session will need to be called. That, combined with disaster relief proclamations that will almost surely need to be signed given the extent of the damage resulting from Sunday's tornado, could mean a re-convening of the legislature in the coming weeks or months.
The conventional wisdom is that if the current budget proposals aren't agreed upon by tonight, the regular session will end and a special session wouldn't be called immediately by Gov. Mark Dayton. Past practice has been to let House and Senate leaders work out a compromise solution before calling all legislators back for special session to vote.
If that happens, it will allow the Vikings and Ramsey County additional time to answer more of the questions being thrown out by those who aren't willing to sign off on the current proposal. It may be just what the stadium issue needs to pass this year. Many legislators have said they won't look at a stadium bill until they figure out the multi-billion-dollar budget mess.
In a strange way, the best news on the stadium may turn out be no news, for now.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Special session could clear up stadium issues
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