With Tom Scheck
The stadium financing plan released by Minnesota House Republicans this afternoon pegs the state’s bonding at at least $250 million for a new Vikings stadium. That’s about $148 million short of the state’s share under the plan for a fixed-roof stadium supported by Gov. Dayton and awaiting votes in the House and Senate.
No one is overtly connecting the dots, but those two numbers are close — the additional financial contribution related to the construction of a fixed roof on one hand, and the gap between the new GOP plan and the original bill on the other.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem confirmed tonight that Republicans are looking for what might be termed a third way — outside funding for the roof.
“We talked about it certainly, within our caucus,” Senjem said. “It’s a matter of whether or not we could come up with that kind of a commitment within the time frame of putting a bill together. It’s possible, but I’m not sure, within the time frames, that it’s very likely.”
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, got even more specific about the potential to dun someone else for the roof.
“I have been an advocate all along to getting our vast and generous business community involved in this…I would hope that our business community steps up… gets some sort of consortium together in a trust or non-profit, and contributes to a $200 million roof,” Chamberlain said. “That’s an idea. People have also floated, well, why not bring in the tribes now and the Native American gaming casinos and see what they’re willing to do… The partners we need in now are the business community and or the tribes. I think its close, I think its viable.”
Coming out of a meeting with the Vikings, GOP House leaders and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Senjem also said the city charter is another problem.
Senjem wouldn’t be specific, but there has been some heartburn about a little-acknowledged part of the long-standing plan: Minneapolis can’t pay its share of the bill while it’s still making payments on the Convention Center. One proposal had the state fronting some of the city’s money. Yesterday, the House GOP floated essentially a “no money down” plan, using extra bond proceeds to pay the first couple years of Minneapolis’ share of the mortgage.
Chamberlain confirmed that’s another nut negotiators are trying to crack. He says he’s also hoping a third party “helps fund the gap for Minneapolis.”
House Majority Leader Matt Dean said after a meeting tonight with GOP leaders from the House and Senate that the city and the roof are issues, but he wouldn’t be specific.
“There are some significant challenges,” Dean said.
But the Vikings were very clear coming out of that same meeting. They’re all in, said team vice president Lester Bagley.
“We are firmly sticking with the agreement that we negotiated in good faith over a period of several months that has us in for $427 million up front, and $13 million a year in operating costs, on an annual basis. That’s half of the life cycle costs of the project. That’s our commitment that’s been negotiated, and that’s what we’re sticking with.”
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson rejected the idea that the business community should kick in some cash to pay for the stadium’s roof.
“The business community is going to have a fairly substantial investment in this stadium already when you think about the suites, and the club seats and advertising and the naming rights,” Olson said. “Stadiums don’t happen without that type of business community support.”