Who was the stadium flipper?

One thing about the stadium got clearer today: that rejection of the Minneapolis plan in House committee was a surprise.

Even Gov. Mark Dayton said he wasn’t expecting the vote to happen the way it did: a 9-6 bi-partisan rejection.

“I had breakfast yesterday morning with Rep. (Paul) Thissen and Sen. (Tom) Bakk and Sen. (Terri) Bonoff, and I told Rep. Thissen afterword that I would call anybody, I would call everybody. I’d invite them to my office, I’d go to their office. Then I was asked mid morning to call two of them. I called, talked to one of them who said he was going to be helpful and wasn’t. And then I called another one, and didn’t get my call returned. I did and remain willing to do whatever I’m asked to do, but I think my sense was, from what was said, that they thought that was what was needed, and was sufficient, and obviously that was wrong.”

So what happened? Who said he would be “helpful and wasn’t”?

Well, there were four men from the DFL caucus on the Government Operations and Elections committee.

One, Mike Nelson, voted yes.

“The governor never called me,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler, of Golden Valley. “And I have ALWAYS been a no vote on this deal.”

Frank Hornstein also said he wasn’t either one of the lawmakers referred to by Dayton: “Look, I have a long history of opposing not only the Vikings stadium and the Twins stadium. I have many, many concerns about the need to privately finance these stadiums, and I have been very, very consistent all along. My position is well known, and even the issues I raise are well known.”

Which leaves the last male member of the DFL caucus serving on the House Government Operations and Elections committee: Rep. Steve Simon of St. Louis Park.

“Yeah, I’m just going to keep my private deliberations private,” Simon said, when asked if he was the lawmaker Dayton referred to as “going to be helpful, and then wasn’t.”

But interestingly, he said he’s still amenable to a Vikings stadium. “I’m open,” Simon explained. “I’m open to a solution that would work. I voted for the Twins stadium, I voted for the Gophers stadium. I am not a person who is opposed in all cases to state support for cultural assets, whether it’s the Guthrie Theater or the Vikings or the Twins, or whatever. It has to be the right package. So I don’t draw a line like some members do, and say I never vote for government support, because I have. If it’s the right package, I’ll vote for it. If it’s not, I won’t.”

He and Nelson would make the DFL support for a stadium plural, which is what GOP leaders said was a must have to get Republican votes on the committee.

  • b

    wilf is the new modell i dont blame him

  • George

    If we don’t do it this year, it will cost several million more the next time it comes up for a vote next year. Everyone who votes it down just raises the price we will eventually have to pay! Either that, or we loose the Vikings, and we did that same thing with a pro hockey team we had once, so I don’t care to go through that scenerio again! Postponing it just makes it more expensive, IMHO…..

  • Brian

    I am a former resident of Cleveland and the city was held hostage by the same threat. “Build a new stadium or the Cleveland Browns will leave.” The bill had wide support and was expected to pass. The morning of the vote, before it could be completed, Art Modell announced a deal with Baltimore and the Browns moved shortly after. The stadium was built anyway and years later Cleveland received an expansion team. The lesson here is, we should not subsidize for-profit companies because they are not under any obligation to us. If the tax payers fund the stadium, who gets the revenue from all of the advertising that goes in the stadium? Before you can guess, let me tell you…the Vikings owners. In reference to the revenue generated by supporting surrounding businesses, there only 7, 8 or maybe 9 home games a year. That is not a significant enough impact on the local economy to justify raising my tax rate. Let me remind readers that our government shut down last year because it couldn’t/wouldn’t balance it’s budget. Is it feasible to be discussing raising money for a stadium? Or is it more reasonable to restore recent deep cuts to schools or libraries. Allow me to provide an analogy. If a family misses a few mortgage payments one summer, should they be talking about installing a below ground swimming pool to replace their above ground swimming pool? Or should they catch up on their bills, build up savings, or even possibly repair the roof. (I couldn’t resist)

    That is not all, but …That is all.

  • glenn

    No suprise!!

    The not very nice guys in the Park have not given up runnng the Viks!!

    In my oppinion- too much has gone down the road regarding the Ramsey County site- I’ve seen too many ‘fellas’ attending meetings to thika another site is possible.


  • Eileen

    I would like Mr. Wilf to put on the table a financial deal he would invest in. I don’t think the kind of vague promises we have heard so far would pass his own test for a good deal; if it did, he wouldn’t have amassed the kind of wealth that allowed him to buy the Vikings.

    The current deal, if accepted, would fund luxury features that most of us would never see and increase the team’s value for a later sale bonanza — all of which would benefit the Wilfs with nothing going to the public “partner.” Unfortunately, like many other so-called public/private partnerships, what we see is all benefits to the private side, all burdens to the public side.

    Offer the public something firm, like an equity share or fixed interest on a specific loan; a good business deal would be a lot more attractive than vague promises, political pressure and secret meetings.

  • David

    I’m anti-stadium funding, but I’d like the lie of a stadium only being used for 7 or 8 games a year to stop. The Metrodome has events all the time that are not NFL related.

  • Jay

    I do not believe the public should have to fund the majority of this stadium (or any of it, actually, but never mind that crazy idea). Nevertheless, I’d have liked to see it get done, because I know what’s going to happen if it doesn’t. If the Vikings move, the pressure to get an expansion team will be huge, and we’ll end up both building a stadium and paying an exorbitant price for the team. I’m also just sick of hearing about it and seeing all the time and energy wasted on it.

    But perhaps the legislators will come out on top in this game of chicken, and instead of moving the team, the Wilfs will come up with a better offer. I know Reps. Simon and Winkler and they are two sharp guys. Perhaps they’re playing it just right, and if so, kudos to them.