Gov. Dayton, lawmakers propose new stadium deadlines

Jan. 12 is new deadline for Minneapolis, Ramsey County

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

Thursday, Jan. 5, Gov. Mark Dayton sent letters to Ramsey County and city of Minneapolis officials urging them to submit their Vikings’ stadium proposals no later 5 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 12.

Dayton is hoping lawmakers will speedily address the Vikings’ stadium issue next legislative session.

The time line cited in the letter was crafted by Dayton and Vikings’ stadium bill authors Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead.

“I couldn’t tell you which (stadium) site I prefer,” Dayton said at a Capitol press conference. He’s still looking for more facts, he said.

The governor expects the stadium proposals to include funding details relating to the Vikings. Dayton said he intended to speak with Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf within the next couple of days and urge Wilf  to be as forthcoming with team financial details as possible.

A take-it-or-leave it attitude is the wrong attitude to have towards the Vikings in regard to a stadium site, Dayton explained. “The Vikings are not the enemy here,” he said.

He spoke of a collaborative process, expressing hope the team and the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission will solve a dispute over the team’s Metrodome lease. Vikings’ officials heralded the Vikings/Chicago Bears’ game on New Years Day as the last game played under their Metrodome lease.

The Vikings lost to the Bears.

They lost their last game at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington in 1981 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dayton has proposed deadlines in the past for stadium proposals, but these and a proposed pre-Thanksgiving stadium special session have come and gone.

“I can’t make them follow a timetable,” Dayton said of lawmakers. Probably there are some lawmakers who prefer seeing the whole stadium issue left for after the election next fall, Dayton suggested.

The Vikings’ stadium issue has been simmering at the State Capitol for more than a decade. There are many highlights and twists.

In 1998 when the National Football League approved the sale of Vikings for $206 million to businessman Red McCombs, the new owner spoke of the need for a new stadium, according to the legislative reference library.

MSFC released a Metrodome renovation plan the following year — it was rejected by the Vikings. At the time McCombs said it was unlikely the team could stay in Minnesota without a new stadium.

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura and lawmakers created a tripartisan task force on stadium issues that in part examined the Vikings’ stadium issue.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty created a stadium screening committee — people brought models of new stadiums to hearings at the Capitol.

The NFL approved the sale of the Vikings for $600 million to a group of investors headed by brothers, Zygi and Mark Wilf in 2005. An effort to build a Vikings’ stadium in Anoka County fizzled not long after.

In July 2008, the sports commission proposed to reuse parts of the Metrodome to build an $853 million retractable roof stadium in Minneapolis.

In 2009 the Vikings, in an effort to earn the team more money, were allowed to sell the field and gate naming rights at the Metrodome.

In December of 2010, the roof of the Metrodome collapsed — the video of snow pouring onto the field from the torn roof becomes iconic.

On Dec. 20, the Vikings played at University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.

They were beaten by the Chicago Bears.

In February of 2011, the Vikings, according to the library, sent a letter to the Ramsey County Board expressing interest in examining a possible stadium site at Arden Hills.

Other Matters

Turning to other matters, Dayton said that he would propose a $775 million bonding bill for next session.

By law, administrations must propose bonding bills no later than Jan. 17, he said.

Dayton intends to deliver his State of the State Address on Feb. 15.

Asked about 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s recent withdrawal from the Republican presidential race, Dayton, though saying he disagreed with the congresswoman on issues, honored her efforts.

“Our democracy depends on people who are willing to run for office,” he said.

He has to respect the congresswoman’s willingness to step forward, Dayton said.