Vikings Could Kill Twins Deal

Just when it seemed Minnesota's baseball future was secure, short-sighted state senators have put both the Vikings and Twins stadiums in jeopardy.

When a Twins stadium deal sailed through the Minnesota House of Representatives last week, it seemed like one of the stumbling blocks to the Vikings getting their Anoka County stadium deal done was on the horizon.

That was last week. A week later both the Twins and Vikings stadium deals -- and perhaps the future of both franchises in Minnesota -- are hanging in the balance thanks moves of a few "well-intentioned" senators.

For the last couple of years, it was believed that the Twins stadium question would come to a legislative vote first. After Congress failed to get anything done concerning stadiums -- as much out of pre-election insecurity than anything else -- the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners took the issue and ran with it. The county voted to impose a .15 percent sales tax -- three cents on every $20 -- to build a stadium. It seemed like a slam dunk. The host county would pay the freight. No money from outstate counties would be needed. Who could vote against that?

Apparently hard-headed legislators that haven't been able to finish their own legislative business on time in 10 of the last 11 years. After seeing previous proposals die in committee due to partisan in-fighting, county officials tried to take the power away from the state. All the legislature was required to do was agree that the proposal didn't need a voter referendum. That proposal passed the state House of Representatives last week. It's been effectively shot down by the Senate.

For reasons unknown, the rules committee of the Senate grabbed the bill from another committee before it could be voted on and completely changed it -- tying the Vikings and Twins stadiums together, increasing the sales tax to pay for it from .15 percent to .50 percent, making the tax applicable to the seven counties in the Twin Cities metro area and putting no end date on the tax -- which would be used for transportation funding long after the stadiums were paid for. And, perhaps worst of all, the bill also requires a statewide referendum, which will likely kill both stadium bills in one swoop.

The conventional wisdom had been that, if taken separately, both the Vikings and Twins stadiums would eventually get done. Now, thanks to the moves of a few senators, the prospect of Minnesota potentially losing both the Twins and the Vikings at some point is closer now that it was only a week ago.

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