House committee deals major blow to Vikings stadium bill
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A Minnesota House committee voted down the Vikings stadium bill Monday night, dealing a major blow to the team's decadelong effort to secure a taxpayer subsidy for a replacement to the Metrodome.
The House Government Operations Committee mustered only six votes for the stadium proposal, with nine members voting against it. The vote, which came just after 10 p.m. after a four-hour hearing on the bill, makes it extremely unlikely the bill could be revived in the remaining weeks of a legislative session expected to wrap up before the end of April.
"Somebody's going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat for this thing to be alive at this point," said Rep. Morrie Lanning, the chief House sponsor of the $975 million stadium plan. A Senate version of the stadium bill has been stalled in that chamber for the last month.
Lester Bagley, the Vikings' point man on the stadium push at the Capitol, said afterward that the team was "extremely disappointed" at the outcome. "I guess I would ask the state, what else would you expect us to do? What else can we do?" he said.
Gov. Mark Dayton has been a committed and vocal supporter of the stadium proposal, repeatedly stressing he believes failure to help the team build a new stadium could result in Minnesota losing the Vikings to another city. A spokeswoman said Dayton would not have an immediate comment on the committee vote.
Bagley said the team will continue to push the proposal in the remaining two weeks of the session. "But this is extremely disappointing, and it sends a strong message to the Vikings and the NFL about the situation," he said. He would not say whether the committee vote made the team's future in Minnesota any less secure.
The proposal that fell in the House committee would have split the stadium tab three ways: $398 million from the state from taxes on expanded gambling, $150 million from the city of Minneapolis from existing sales taxes and $427 million from the Vikings with assistance likely from the NFL.
Prior to the vote, Vikings officials faced tough questioning from several committee members who said they weren't convinced the proposal is a good deal for taxpayers.
"How do we as representatives of public taxpayers, how do we know we're getting a good deal?" asked Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley. Winkler went on to vote against the proposal.© The Associated Press