Council support for Vikings’ stadium meaningful, but not everything, lawmakers suggest

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

News that a majority of the Minneapolis City Council are on-board with the Vikings’ stadium bill had Sen. Sean Nienow thinking in terms of resuscitation.

“I think it pumps a little more life into a dying Vikings’ stadium proposal,” said Nienow, R-Cambridge.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Council President Barb Johnson, and supportive members of the Minneapolis City Council appeared with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton today (March 26) at the State Capitol to announce  a majority of the city council — seven of 13 members — back the current Vikings’ stadium proposal.

“It’s been a long haul,” said Johnson.

Rybak depicted city council members as doing their homework, scrutinizing the stadium numbers, coming to well reasoned decisions.

The letters from the six council members — Johnson is on record supporting the stadium proposal — are not wholly identical.

All the council members speak of an unwillingness to take a vote on a stadium proposal that violates the city charter, something Rybak argues the current proposal does not do.

“Now we have a way, all we need is will,” said Dayton, who is scheduled to host his regular weekly breakfast meeting with Republican legislative leaders tomorrow.

Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, speaking off the House floor today, said the show of support for the city council was significant.

“It’s a huge deal,” he said.

“This helps,” said Abeler of getting a stadium bill done this session.

Not that Abeler wants a new Vikings’ stadium built in Minneapolis.

He wants it built in Arden Hills.

And the more the stadium debate is drawn out, the better the chances for Arden Hills, Abeler said.

House Vikings’ stadium bill author Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, called the news of council majority support a positive step.

“It’s something we’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Lanning.

“Better late than never. But it would have been nice to have that some time ago,” he said.

Still, city council support means another piece of the stadium puzzle has fallen into place, he said.

Negotiations with charitable gaming officials, who have expressed concern over use of charitable gaming revenue as a means of financing the stadium, continues, Lanning said.

As for the now idling Arden Hills’ stadium proposal, he personally has never counted Arden Hills out, said Lanning.

Indeed, if the Minneapolis stadium proposal falls apart, Arden Hills could be the place where stadium backers look next, he said.

If the will in the House exists, a stadium bill could emerge the session — each passing day is critical, Lanning indicated.

Although House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, has publicly stated that he not a stadium advocate, Lanning views Republican leadership as not slamming the door on the stadium initiative.

“They could do things to kill this thing, and they’re not doing it,” he said.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, views the city council support as meaningful.

“It’s certainly important to have the support of the city and the city council,” he said.

Still, House Republicans are not taking their cue from the city council, Dean said.

“Our decision is still separate from that,” he said.

Dean cites curbing state spending, government reform, job creation as of greater importance to House Republicans than the Vikings’ stadium.

“It’s something we do hear about,” said Dean.

But House Republican members more often hear concerns about jobs, spending, and other issues, Dean said.

Additionally, the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Vikings could work out a stadium deal between themselves, Dean indicated.

“We don’t have a law that says we have to pass a Vikings’ stadium bill,” said Dean.

For his part, Nienow views the stadium proposal as having other loose ends than just the city council.

For example, he spoke of wanting to study the impact of the stadium bill on the Minneapolis City charter.