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Vikings stadium proposal suffers serious setback

Zygi Wilf

Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf declines comment to the media following the third day in a row of private meetings with Gov. Mark Dayton and other stakeholders in the debate over public financing for a new team stadium Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Glen Stubbe) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT


When Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he’d call a special legislative session in November to tackle once and for all the issue of a new stadium for the Vikings, many interpreted the move as a sign that a stadium would indeed be constructed. Now, Dayton and various leaders of the Minnesota legislature have thrown a major roadblock in the path of that outcome.

According to multiple media reports, Dayton and two key members of the legislative leadership (Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers) concluded last Friday that the Legislature as a whole does not support a plan that would exempt Ramsey County or Minneapolis from a public referendum on a sales tax. The absence of such an exemption not only puts the $350 million local contribution for the stadium effort on track to fail, but it also delays the finalization of the plan until November 2012, the earliest date on which a public vote could occur.

The move comes after elected officials in Ramsey County decided to proceed with a sales tax that would not be subject to public vote.

“Last Friday’s meeting was very significant in eliminating one proposed source of financing for a People’s Stadium in either Ramsey County or Minneapolis, unless the Vikings are willing to endure the time delay and continuing uncertainty in obtaining voters’ approval,” Dayton said in a statement. “Given this reality, we are now actively assessing and discussing with the team other financing options.”

Needless to say, the Vikings likely are actively assessing and discussing with itself other options, including relocation. The fact that the Vikings have yet to issue a statement on the matter essentially confirms that the next announcement could be that the team will begin to openly entertain offers from other communities.

And so, when it’s time to write the story of why the Vikings left Minnesota, point to the legislature’s decision not to allow a community whose leadership is willing to embrace a sales tax for the privilege of hosting the stadium. All that’s left to figure out is whether the logos and the colors and the name and the records will be put into mothballs when owner Zygi Wilf moves the team to Los Angeles in 2012, where they’d play at the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum while waiting for a stadium to be built downtown or at Grand Crossing in the City of Industry.

The Vikings’ Metrodome lease expires on January 1, and the Vikings have said that a new agreement won’t be executed without a final plan in place for building a new stadium.