Racino could help Vikings' stadium efforts

Racino Now, a lobbying effort aimed at putting slot machines at Canterbury Park, could help finance the Vikings stadium almost entirely after the group offered $40 million annually to a stadium project. However, many are reluctant to support the racino concept.

The building groundswell of support to find a way to construct a Vikings stadium now appears to have a new ally – horse racing.

Former State Senator Dick Day, now a lobbyist for Racino Now – an effort to get slot machines installed at Canterbury Park – said Thursday that his group would be willing to commit $40 million a year to help pay for a new Vikings stadium. The Vikings have said it would cost about $42 million a year to pay the costs of the projected $870 million stadium deal. Day has projected that if 2,500 slot machines were installed at Canterbury Park, it could generate $100 million a year in profits.

Previous attempts by Day and others to get the racino concept off the ground have failed. Their efforts have been met with a tepid response from the Legislature in the past, partly from those who believe any expansion of gambling in the state is a bad idea, as well as those who believe the state shouldn't encroach on the gaming rights Native American tribes have with their numerous casinos.

Both the Vikings and Gov. Tim Pawlenty have been cool to the idea of using gambling funds to raise money for a stadium because of the potential political backlash to such a proposal. Day's original proposal was to put slot machines at both of the state's horse racing tracks – the other being Running Aces in Anoka County.

There is no guarantee that the racino proposal will gain any more legislative support than it had when the proposals failed in the past. Expect the opposition to the proposal to be just as strong, as opponents of the plan have been vocal in the past and nothing would appear to be in line to change that.

While the racino proposal likely has a minimal chance of passing, the fact that the state is looking at varied options for funding a stadium – whether realistic or not – is a step in the right direction after a couple years of complete inactivity.


  • The Vikings announced the dates and times of their two home preseason games. The Seattle Seahawks will come to the Metrodome for a game at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 and the team will close out the preseason at home against Denver at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2.

  • The announcement of the preseason schedule only solidifies the expectation that the Vikings will open the regular season against the Saints in the Kickoff Weekend Thursday night game Sept. 9. Because they would play on Thursday, the Vikings got the earliest possible game in the final week of the preseason, which seems to be putting the pieces in place for an NFC Championship Game rematch to open the 2010 season.

  • The NFL is expected to announce its marquee games for the season – from kickoff weekend to the Monday night schedule – early next week, with the full schedule expected to be announced next week as well.

  • Brad Childress and members of the Vikings staff will be in Gainesville Florida to watch several University of Florida players, including quarterback Tim Tebow, do their Pro Day workouts this weekend. Aside from Tebow, the Gators have a couple of potential first-rounders in offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey and defensive end Carlos Dunlap working out as well.

  • Running back Tyler Roehl, who spent last season with the Seahawks, has accepted an invitation to attend the Vikings coming minicamp.

  • The NFL is whittling down the list of the greatest draft picks of all time and one of them is a Viking – Randy Moss with the 21st pick in the 1998 draft. Of the 20 finalists, surprisingly all but four were first-round picks (including three No. 1 overall selections) and only one (Tom Brady in the sixth round) was taken after the third round.

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