And it’s done: The Minnesota state senate just voted 38-28 to approve state funding of a $1 billion Vikings stadium bill, one day after the state house did the same. The two versions of the bill now go to conference committee to reconcile any differences, any then to Gov. Dayton for a certain signature.
Along the way, the senate voted for a whole passel of amendments, including an increase in the amount of money the Vikings owners would have to put in (but but only to $452 million, $
70 80 milion less than the house voted for), a requirement that the NFL not black out any games, and a requirement that the state not overrule any requirement that the city of Minneapolis hold a referendum on sports funding — though money to redo the Target Center was then exempted from the no-referendum-out-clause provision, which pretty much makes it moot as that’s the only piece that is certain to trigger a referendum. The senate also briefly voted to ditch the entire e-pulltab funding scheme and replace it with the user fees that the Vikings owners hate so much, but then immediately revoted to find that a bunch of senators had mysteriously switched sides in the previous five minutes.
At this point, the only holdup is likely to be the increased funding required from the Vikings, and with the final figure post-conference committee likely to be between an extra $30 million and an extra $100 million, that’s likely a price that Zygi Wilf will be willing to pay. So congratulations, Minnesota, it looks like you just bought yourself a half billion dollars or so worth of football stadium. Or, as Sen. Carla Nelson called it per MPR’s indispensible liveblog of the proceedings, a building where you “have a tenant that pays for half the construction cost and then operates it only about 10 or 15 days a year.” Here’s hoping you get a half billion dollars worth of enjoyment out of the world’s largest rec room, because you can be sure the only significant money that comes in from it is going to be on 10 or 15 days a year — and take a wild guess which ones.
UPDATE: The senate also added several user taxes — 10% on suite sales, 10% on stadium parking, and 6.875% on sale of NBA memorabilia — as a backstop to the gambling money, which the Vikings also won’t like. That can be negotiated down or away in conference committee, though, so it only remains to be seen whether the team owners (or five senators) are willing to blow up the deal over the presence or absence of this provision. That doesn’t seem likely, though if this whole Vikings saga has made anything clear, it’s that “likely” doesn’t enter into the equation.