Deal or No Deal?

The twists and turns continued Wednesday as the Vikings stadium hopes took a serious hit from legislators trying to separate the Vikings and Twins stadium proposals -- which would appear to be great news for the Twins, but not so much for the Vikings -- as the clock keeps ticking to the end of the current session.

Another day, another episode in the ongoing soap opera "As the Stadium Turns."

After meeting late into the night, it appears as though the Vikings-Twins combo stadium deals are dead in the water. Meeting until after midnight, the House-Senate conference committee heard counterproposals to keep the Vikings stadium deal alive, but the focus now seems almost entirely centered on the Twins stadium proposal.

The committee conferees have moved back to the position that the original House plan, a Twins-only stadium deal, is the most likely scenario. Even Senate Democrat Steve Kelley, one of the strongest supporters for a Vikings stadium, said the best interest of both stadium deals might be served if the Vikings waited until next year to get their own stadium proposal heard.

Earlier in the day, Kelley was part of a committee debate that compared the stadiums to a recent surgery making local headlines that separated conjoined twin girls. The discussion and analogies centered on letting the individual stadium proposals stand on their own and questioning whether each would survive independently.

But the wrangling never seemed to stop throughout the day. A revised Senate proposal would still keep the stadiums together with a transit funding package and a seven-county metro area sales tax increase. One provision taken out would be the requirement of a voter referendum on the matter, but would require passage from the county board of commissioners in all seven metro area counties – still viewed as a long shot to pass.

The developments weren't met with a positive note by the Vikings brass.

"We're disappointed with the development," said Vikings chief negotiator Lester Bagley of the recent turn of events. "I hate to say it's over, but for (the current Legislative) session, we've still got a couple of ticks on the clock."

The conference committee will likely make a proposal later today or Friday to be voted on by both houses of the Legislature. The Legislature is schedule to end its work on Monday.

THURSDAY NOTES
* As feared earlier in the week, it was confirmed Wednesday that fullback Joey Goodspeed will be lost for the season with a torn left ACL. He was injured during a practice Saturday of the team's minicamp last weekend.
* Barring a plea agreement prior to trial, the dates for the trials of the two remaining Vikings charged in the October 2005 boat scandal will go on as scheduled. Fred Smoot's trial is set to begin May 30 and Bryant McKinnie would go on trial July 7 barring any legal moves made between now and then.
* Word out of Miami is that there is a feeling at Dolphins camp that Daunte Culpepper might be ready for opening day of the regular season.

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