Negotiators might be able to announce within days an agreement on a plan for a Vikings stadium on or near the Metrodome, the governor's key stadium negotiator said Thursday.
But "there are a number of issues outstanding," said Ted Mondale, who represents Gov. Mark Dayton in stadium talks and also chairs the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the Metrodome's landlord.
Talks have been focused recently on trying to craft a deal that would allow the team to continue playing in the Metrodome while construction on a new stadium goes on next door. That would reduce or eliminate the need for the Vikings to play at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, which the team has said would be logistically challenging and cause it to incur losses.
Dayton himself gave a nod to the recent progress Wednesday evening, saying in his State of the State address that the parties "may be getting close to a site, a deal and a bill."
Also on Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak made a strong plea Thursday in the House Taxes Committee to allow sales taxes that support the Convention Center to continue beyond 2020.
The taxes would help pay for the $300 million the city would chip in for a $918 million stadium project. the state and Vikings would pay the rest.
The convention center brings national and international visitors to the state, he said. "Cutting off the sales taxes used in the city of Minneapolis to support the state convention center would be the equivalent of the state punching itself in the face."
Rep. Greg Davids weighs in
A bill sponsored by Taxes Committee chair Greg Davids, R-Preston, would click off sales, lodging, liquor and food and beverage taxes in 2020, when the bonds on the convention center are due to be retired.
Rybak and Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson have proposed continuing those taxes to support the convention center but also to contribute to a Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
That led some to speculate Davids' bill is actually a roundabout way of encouraging members of the City Council, who have yet to back Rybak's plan, to step up and take action on the stadium plan.
Davids took pains to point out his bill does not mention the stadium. No votes were taken on the measure Thursday.
Reached by phone after the hearing, City Council member Gary Schiff said Davids has "never asked me to support the mayor's plan," and he considers Davids' bill "completely separate" from the stadium conversation.
He criticized the measure as a "Republican unemployment bill."
Schiff said Rybak's current financing plan for a Vikings stadium does not have seven votes on the 13-member council, and he's not sure when the council will vote on the issue.
He voiced his support for a White Earth Tribe casino in Minneapolis, which he said "could provide vital jobs to lift American Indians in Minneapolis out of poverty."
Vikings stadium bill days away?
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