Senate committee green-lights stadium

The Minnesota Senate’s Local Government committee passed the plan to build a new $975 million Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis tonight. (See vote below)

The vote came after a more than a month of controversy: the same committee tabled the stadium bill in March.

“It’s been an up and down week. Touch and go,” said Vikings vice president Lester Bagley. “We’ll get busy and go after the bill in the Jobs committee in the Senate and at the same time try to shake it loose in the House. I would rather not get into guessing what happens next, but we’re encouraged.”

He did have one caveat — a 10 percent suite tax put on in an amendment offered by Ken Kelash, DFL-Minneapolis.

“We’re not supportive of that,” Bagley said.

But Kelash won over the committee with a populist argument: “The poor sucker from some part out state, doing pull tabs that will never be able to afford a seat in this stadium, he’s subsidizing the guy sitting in the box. And those guys are not only not paying any taxes to help pay for the bonding on this stadium, but they’re also able to write off the receipts as part of their corporate expenses.”

The committee also stripped out a provision in the existing agreement with Minneapolis, the state and the Vikings that would allow the city of Minneapolis to use sales tax money to rehab Target Center.

Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, had proposed deleting the Target Center part of the deal. He said it gave Minneapolis an unfair advantage over St. Paul.

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak said it won’t work that way. “The only way we can pass this [at the City Council] is the package that we brought forward.”

The Minneapolis city council has scheduled a hearing on the deal next Tuesday, and Target Center is the carrot that the state has offered to win over doubters on the council.

“This is a very critical part to Minneapolis’ deal,” bill author Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, told the committee.

A majority of Republicans in the committee actually voted against the measure. They were led by Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who said the state was giving too good a deal to the Vikings.

He offered a competing bill that would give the Vikings only a loan for the stadium.

“They have the financial wherewithal,” Chamberlain said of the Vikings. “They’re smart enough. We can come up with a deal that is more equitable for this market. We’re not asking them to pay for everything. We’re asking them to include the business community, which has $430 billion in gross revenue. And we’re asking for the fans to pay a little bit. So we want a deal done. We just want something other than the first offer.”

Rosen said the bill will go to the Rules committee on Monday, and the Jobs committee Monday night. It’s likely to have to pass the Taxes and Finance committees as well before it can make it to the Senate floor.

The roll call:



Carla Nelson

John Pederson

Claire Robling


Katie Sieben

Chris Eaton

Ken Kelash

John Harrington

Roger Reinert



Ray Vandeveer

Pam Wolf

Benjamin Kruse

Warren Limmer

Roger Chambelain


Mary Jo McGuire

  • davidz

    Harrington is listed for both YES and NO. Which is correct?

  • You have John Harrington as voting both yes and no.

  • Robert W. Seidel

    The NFL has once again buffaloed local politicians with empty threats. We can’t help the helpless, but we can surely do a deal with the wealthy. The only question now is whether they can escape taxation, unlike the rest of us.

    MPR reports have indicated that there is no market for the Vikings in Los Angeles, but the “Lakers” syndrome can still be manipulated to blind our “representatives” in the legislature to the real needs of Minneapolis. The Romans had at least bread and circuses. Bring in the clowns!

  • audrey f.

    Robert W. Seidel: Thank you. In my words-fail-me fury, it’s good to read a comment from someone who can see the truth of things.

    I have found some words: It’s shameful and humiliating to me as a Minnesotan that the people we elected to represent US have licked the shoes of the NFL and agreed to subsidize the louts they employ.

    John Marty: Thank you for being a man of intelligence and integrity. It must be lonely.

  • a.ferrey

    So once again I have failed in my grasp of technology and pushed the Post button a couple times too many.

    So I repeated myself. You know what? It needs to said oftener. And loudly. At the polls.

    And at the admissions gate? Wishful thinking.

  • jack breen


  • Josh Thoreson

    Vikings need to GET THE HECK OUT!

    According to the most recent proposal the combined Minnesota & Minneapolis upfront and ongoing contribution to the stadium could be around $787,000,000. If the state of Minnesota had $787,000,000 to blow they could build a school, fire station, or library in every community in this state! We only have 5.3 million people in MN so if they wanted to give every man, woman, and child in MN their share it would be $148.49. Why would the legislature and governor even consider a gift to a billionaire this large? Redistributing wealth this way is a grave social injustice.

    Proponents of the proposal argue that this is an investment and that it will pay for itself. It is possibly true that a stadium is a good investment, in that it will bring in tax revenue over time, but it does not seem plausible that it is either the best investment or that it is the most legitimate use of taxpayer dollars. If this is an investment MN government is doing then why do we do not get an ownership stake similar to public financing of the Packers? If MN government is essentially just a creditor then the Viking ownership needs to open their books and show this is a credible credit decision. However, taking the role of a creditor seems better left to banks then to state government. Absent an agreement to either public ownership or a biding commitment to payback the funds it is essentially a gift to Ziggy. Considering the K-12 shift, the shut down, and the lack of funding for essential governmental priorities such as roads and schools it seems obvious this s not the best investment of hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars.

    The hardball negotiators lobbying for the Vikings have said they will leave unless we give them what they want but if it saves taxpayers $787 Million then we should demand the Vikings leave. We can find better ways to invest the money.

    Thank you,

  • jason

    You people have no clue about the jobs we could have created by building this stadium,or the jobs we will lose if the vikes leave and in this economy isn’t that the thing that matters!I love the vikes and i will be leaving if they do so say goodbye to my taxes.