Now it’s really D-Day for the Minnesota Vikings stadium campaign (V-Day? VD-Day? Oh, forget it), and nobody is venturing a guess as to what will happen when the state house and senate vote on the bill for a $1 billion downtown Minneapolis stadium today. In fact, the Minnesota media seem to be throwing up their hands in exasperation and not even bothering to speculate: The Star Tribune has only an AP story about unfinished business at the legislature and a brief item about Gov. Dayton going to a stadium rally and donning a Vikings jersey. (Yesterday it featured a column by Sid Hartman that, if you’ve ever read Sid Hartman on new stadium plans, you can almost certain imagine yourself without taking the time to read it.) The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a stadium FAQ. MinnPost sums up the other stadium reporting, little of which even attempts to determine a likely outcome.
The single exception is Minnesota Public Radio, which concludes that while “it’s not clear how the votes will fall,” there are “some signs the plan is gaining momentum.” These run from the not-so-significant (the VIkings’ Lester Bagley says it is, which he would) to at least one actual vote switching sides to pro-stadium:
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, a long-time stadium critic, now says he plans to vote in favor of the stadium bill.
In a statement Sunday, he complained the bill gives too much money to the Vikings and steps ahead of more important priorities. But he called it the only viable job and economic growth initiative to come out of this legislative session.
That’s one vote, and whether others of Winkler’s colleagues feel the same, who knows? But at least MPR made an attempt at reporting it.
Meanwhile, as we anticipate what’s sure to be a crazy day, we can enjoy the unintentional comedy of house speaker Kurt Zellers, who on Friday tried to explain that he “misspoke” the day before when he told a radio interviewer that while he wasn’t going to vote for the bill, “hopefully it will pass and hopefully the governor will have a chance to sign the bill.” As clarifications go, though, Zellers’ was lacking a bit in the clarity department (transcript courtesy of the Star Trib):
Reporter 1: “Can you explain what you ‘misspoke’ on? Do you not hope the bill will pass? Or do you hope the bill will pass?
Zellers: “I said what I said. I made a mistake. I can admit it.”
Reporter 1: “Right but what was the mistake?”
Reporter 2: “You actually don’t want it to pass, is that what you’re saying?”
Reporter 1: “You want it to pass?”
Zellers: “I’m not going to make any more mistakes.”
Reporter 1: “Right. But you said you misspoke and you made a mistake. I’m trying to figure out what you think was the mistake. That’s an honest question.”
Zellers: “I corrected it.”
Reporter 1: “So what’s the correction?…Can you explain?”
Zellers: “I said that the Vikings are an asset I want to see them stay. And what was misinterpreted was that I wanted the bill (to) pass but I wasn’t going to vote for it. I said I can’t vote for the bill. I want to see the Vikings stay I think they’re an asset, I’ve said that many times.”
But let’s cut the man some slack: It’s been a long stadium fight, and we’re all tired. Here’s hoping that whatever happens tonight, at the very least everyone winds up voting the way they meant to. And if anyone else in the legislature is considering voting for the stadium as a “jobs and economic growth initiative,” here’s a little light reading, as well as some less light reading, to give some sense of how well that’s likely to work out.