Monday is D-Day for the Minnesota Vikings stadium, and the state legislature has been working fast and furiously to change the bill so many times that no one knows what they’re voting for anymore:
- Racino money (i.e., slot machines at racetracks) was added to the bill by the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, something that the committee decided was necessary to provide more revenue for the project — Sen. Sean Nienow, who introduced the amendment, said that the current funding plan of electronic pull-tabs was based on “fairies and foo-foo dust“). But that chief bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen worries is such a hot-button issue that it could kill the bill.
- A bunch of Vikings players showed up at the legislature to exude the charisma that attaches to all pro football players.
- A House Republican said he’d move to remove gambling entirely from the bill as a funding mechanism, and instead substitute a 4% income tax surcharge on Vikings players and executives and sales taxes on sports memorabilia and concessions sales in the new stadium.
- The Minneapolis Star Tribune revealed that the stadium bill would leave the state of Minnesota on the hook not only for cost overruns but for maintaining the facility “in a manner that is first-class and consistent with comparable” NFL stadiums — a similar “state of the art” clause to what’s caused costly headaches for cities like Cincinnati and St. Louis. Vikings stadium czar Lester Bagley insists that this would be different because the Vikings wouldn’t be able to break the lease if the stadium is not maintained to its specifications, but the Star Trib story doesn’t make clear what recourse the team does have in that circumstance.
After a whirlwind of activity on Tuesday and Wednesday, nothing much happened on Thursday, leaving some to conclude that momentum has stalled. The Senate Taxes Committee is expected to meet today — maybe — to discuss the stadium bill, while the state house now isn’t expected to debate the bill until after it’s done in the senate. The legislative session doesn’t wrap up until midnight Monday, and it looks like lawmakers are going to use up every last second of the clock on this.