After eight and a half hours of debate, the Minnesota House passed a bill that would finance a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
The House passed the measure 73-58. Here’s the roll call:
The debate mostly focused on whether the investment was worth keeping the team in Minnesota.
“The fans want us to do something,” Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said.
Other stadium supporters expressed concern the Vikings could leave Minnesota if a new stadium wasn’t built. A few also said the bill will help jump start a struggling construction sector.
“We need to put our state to work,” Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth said. “Today it’s about putting food on the table.”
But critics say a new stadium won’t result in much economic benefit for the state. Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud, also said the NFL monopoly is forcing lawmakers to make bad choices.
“We had patient lobbyists out there for weeks and months,” Banaian said. “It was when (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell came to town and that’s what made it happen for you because they came and said ‘Nice team you got here. Shame if something happens to it.’”
Other opponents questioned whether the revenue source, the authorization of electronic pull-tabs, would generate enough money to pay for the new stadium.
The House did lower the state’s contribution $105 million from $398 to $293 million.
Several House members say the Vikings can afford to spend more than their $427 million contribution.
Rep. Pat Garofalo laid out the new terms.
“With the changes we’re putting into this bill, public support for the project will be reduced from $548 million to $443 million,” Garofalo, R-Farmington, said. “Still a very generous support package from the public.”
Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley wouldn’t comment as to whether the Vikings would balk at the change in the team’s contribution. He said last week that the team would not spend more than $427 million.
Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley said he was also pleased that the House passed the bill and was optimistic about their chances in the Senate. Bagle did express concern about the amendment that would require the Vikings to pay $105 million more for the stadium. He said that contribution would have to be lowered if the Senate passes the bill.
“We did negotiate an agreement in good faith that had the team contributing $427 million up front and $13 million a year. That is what was negotiated over a period of months. The amendment that went on that is now the House position in the bill is not workable.”
Gov. Dayton said he was pleased that the House passed the bill by a wider margin than he expected. As dozens of Vikings supporters looked on in the governor’s reception room, Dayton said he was pleased that 40 Democrats and 33 Republicans voted for it.
“It was a strong bipartisan vote. The voices of the people of Minnesota were heard tonight. Those of you who are here and the thousands all over the state are rejoicing this terrific vote.”
The plan would also require the city of Minneapolis to spend $150 million.
The Minnesota Senate has yet to act on the bill.
The Senate could take up the bill as early as Tuesday. Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, says she expects the Senate to take up the bill tomorrow morning. The Senate is in session at 9am.