Dayton: stadium endgame a “fiasco”

Gov. Mark Dayton blasted legislative Republicans this morning, calling their counter offer to his stadium plan “gamesmanship.”

“Republican leaders are playing poker with thousands of Minnesota jobs that are at stake in these outcomes, while they are trying to save their own,” Dayton said,

He was joined by fellow Democrats House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, who called for their bodies to take up the existing Vikings bill for a vote when they convene tomorrow — one of only a handful of legislative meeting days they have left under state law.

Dayton also said he would be meeting with the GOP leaders at 1 p.m. today to talk over their plan. He said he’d already had a “candid” conversation with House speaker Kurt Zellers.

It might have sounded like this, the case he laid out in his office this morning:

“This is just really fundamentally wrong, and I hope the people of Minnesota will see it for what it is. After eight months of negotiations, bipartisan, two Republican authors of the bill; after four months of a bipartisan legislative working group working together, through thousands of hours of negotiations, we came forward with a proposal. It went through seven legislative committees, went through some changes, but basically the structural integrity of the project remained as it was.”

“And as the Senate author said herself, two prerequisites for it were no general fund tax dollars and there would be a roof on it so it could be used year round as a people’s stadium. Unbeknownst to the bill’s two authors, both Republicans, the Republican leadership yesterday, the day after they were supposed to have adjourned, come forward with this hare-brained scheme, that would basically destroy the project as it was conceived, destroy it as it was funded, and for all practical purposes destroy it for this legislative session.”

“The Vikings oppose it, the city of Minneapolis opposes it, I oppose it. And here we are with no time left in the session and they don’t even have a firm proposal.”

House Majority Leader Matt Dean said the state should only commit to the project from the “turf down,” as in infrastructure and utilities only.

Dayton countered the general fund financing in the GOP plan saying Minnesotans don’t want it: “Polls show… people don’t support it if their tax dollars are going for it. And they support it if they realize their tax dollars are not.”

He also dismissed suggestions that the stadium project could be done in phases — a stadium first and a roof later.

“We have a consultant who has worked on a number of stadiums around the country, and the financing of them,” Dayton said. “And he’s not aware of any stadium that was “roof ready” that ever had a roof added to it. Why wouldn’t you do it all in one piece and get it right? When will the time come to get the public support, political support, legislative support to put another $100 million, $120 million into putting a roof on? And until that happens, you have a stadium sitting empty for 355 days a year.”

Republican leaders are scheduled to talk more about their plan after meeting with Dayton. But it may be a difficult conversation with the governor. House GOP spokeswoman Jodi Boyne, speaking after Dayton’s press conference, called his remarks “really unfortunate.”

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