Minnesota’s effort to replace the aging Metrodome, where the Minnesota Vikings play, progressed on Monday when the House passed a stadium proposal by a vote of 73-58. It now moves on to the Senate.
The $975 stadium proposal was not without amendment, however, as legislators agreed to ask the Vikings to pick up an extra $105 million of the construction tab.
While politicians continued to debate, Vikings fans rallied at the state house and took to the phones and email banks to let their voices be heard. According to the Associated Press, Governor Mark Dayton and Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder turned up at the state house rally:
“The voices of the people of Minnesota were heard tonight,” Dayton said.
Discussion on the House floor was overshadowed at times by the chants of Vikings boosters rallying in the rotunda outside. Dayton and Vikings players, including quarterback Christian Ponder, fired up purple-clad fans, who chanted, “Build it!”
Ponder drew cheers when he said, “I want to be here in Minnesota for the rest of my life.”
The new stadium plan has been a decade in the making and is still not completely set. The alternative to building is moving the team to Los Angeles where “Farmer’s Field” has been proposed. Both stadiums are slated to be built under Project Labor Agreements.
Many of Minnesota’s politicians, who had to stand up one by one to give their vote, reflected on their desire to keep the Vikings in Minnesota:
Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph, made it personal. He told of being born during a Vikings game, with his dad having to break away from an overtime game to ferry his mom to the hospital. Hosch said he can’t fathom not having Sunday games to share with his own kids.
“It might not make sense in dollars and cents,” Hosch said, adding, “I can’t imagine a state without the Vikings.”
“Whatever you think of this bill, this is our one chance,” said Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove. “This bill works, it’s been fine-tuned and it will build a stadium.”
The amendment that upped the ante for Vikings owners gained strong bipartisan support. According to Bloomberg, amendments were also included which make the team responsible for cost overruns and which outline revenue sharing of naming rights:
The plan negotiated by the governor, key lawmakers, the Minneapolis mayor and the team would have the Vikings cover about $427 million of the construction costs, or about 44 percent. The state would pay $398 million, with the money coming from an expansion of gambling. The city of Minneapolis would kick in $150 million by redirecting an existing hospitality tax.
The amendment raising the team’s share won strong bipartisan approval. Another would give the state a bigger share of any proceeds from a team sale once the stadium is built.
A plan to pay the state’s share through a gambling expansion survived an attempt to remove it when House members turned back a push to replace that money with fees on tickets, concessions and other fan purchases.