The Minnesota Vikings have seen their vision of a new stadium in the Twin Cities gain steam over the last few days, starting with many Republican legislators crossing the aisle to say that they are in support of expanding gambling as a possible revenue generator for a new Vikings stadium.
This coming just days after Republicans walked out on Democrat governor Mark Dayton over a sales tax increase without a public referendum, Senate Republican Julie Rosen of Fairmont, and her House of Representatives colleague Morrie Lanning of Moorhead, have agreed that gambling expansion is an accepted way of raising funds.
While House Speaker Kurt Zellers has still voiced opposition to a special session to get a stadium deal done, many Republicans led by Lanning and Rosen are pushing for a special session to pass a stadium bill prior to the end of the written lease of the Metrodome.
The politicians also looked at a viable Minneapolis site on Friday, at the current Farmers' Market location, about two miles northwest of the Metrodome. The plan, proposed by the city of Minneapolis, would be completed in 2016. It would include a publicly owned stadium, as well as a connection to Target Field and the Target Center, solidifying a "sports district" in Minneapolis.
The funding, which is still the hottest debate, would come from a proposed $300 million from the city of Minneapolis, which would be raised through a .35 percent sales tax and a one percent lodging tax or five percent Block E gaming gross revenue through 2020, three percent after 2020, and a $20 million licensing fee. In addition to one of the options, there is also a $9 million base annual operating contribution by the city.
The plan may also include a renovation of the Target Center, just up the road from the proposed site, for another $150 million.
Where Should the Vikings Build?
The Farmers' Market site, however, is not the "ideal" candidate, according to the Vikings. The organization would prefer a suburban location, but as time runs out, they may become more lenient.
The purpose of a suburban stadium (as stated by the Vikings), which is more costly than the proposed Farmers' Market site by about $64,000 plus clean-up costs at the old military base, was to develop the land around the stadium for more profit.
The proposed stadium, however, is being touted by the city of Minneapolis as being as development-ready as the Arden Hills site.
The site as proposed, with the construction of restaurants and hotels and a connector the Vikings' stadium to Target Field, is also being presented as a strong revenue generating area, with sales, property and income taxes all going toward the state, city and then the organization of the Vikings and the NFL.
This all makes sense, but opponents of the plan are saying that this is only a theory and they believe the evidence proves otherwise.
Many believe that time is running out, and it will be difficult to get a deal done this year.
Luckily for these, there was something buried deep in the language of the Vikings' lease agreement on the Metrodome that may have been discovered on Friday by the Metropolitan Sports Council, and the Star Tribune.
Called the "Force Majeure," which is a French translation of "superior force," specifies that if the Metrodome is damaged and the team is to play somewhere else for even part of a season, they are forced to play an additional full season at the Metrodome.
While this is a bit of saving grace on time, should a court find it true and legally binding, it is still widely held that the Vikings should get a new stadium so that they can stay in Minnesota.