Dayton preparing stadium recommendations as talks continue
by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
A series of key Vikings’ stadium financial players met with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday, some when stepping out of the Governor’s Office to face a line of TV cameras more talkative than others.
Minnesota Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf, after pausing for a Vikings’ official to say Wilf would offer no comment, briskly strode away down the Capitol corridor followed by a mob of TV cameramen and reporters.
“My reading of the First Amendment is that it’s a right, not a requirement,” quipped Dayton later when asked whether Wilf, who is looking for some $600 million in public support for a new stadium, didn’t owe the public a comment.
But Dayton after his separate meetings with Wilf, Ramsey County officials, and developer Bob Lux, owner of Block E in downtown Minneapolis, explained that he is preparing a list of stadium recommendations and expects to have the list completed by Nov. 6.
Dayton, who is prepared to call a special legislative session in the days prior to Thanksgiving to address the stadium, said Wilf appreciated his pushing the issue forward. “They didn’t leave my office angry,” Dayton quipped to reporters.
The governor is looking for all the stadium players to have their proposals in writing a week from Friday, Oct. 21.
Dayton plans to meet with Republican and Democratic legislative leaders this coming Monday afternoon to further hone special session details.
The governor listed a number financial stadium variables he wants nailed down, and mentioned one element of any potential deal that he wants solidly in place.
“I made it clear there can not be any walk-away-rights for anybody,” said Dayton.
Dayton talked up the benefits of developing a stadium in Arden Hills — the benefits of cleaning up a large chunk of land now unused — but he also said he hadn’t ruled out possible stadium development in downtown Minneapolis.
That’s certainly preferable to Los Angeles, he quipped.
Not achieving a Vikings’ stadium solution raises the real possibility, the “likelihood,” Dayton said, the team would leave Minnesota.
Once a professional sports franchise leaves, it can take a long time to get one back, he said.
Although Wilf was tight-lipped, others spoke after their meeting with the governor.
Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett said all the stadium players think things are progressing.“I think we’re all encouraged,” he said.
“I would be here wasting my time if I didn’t think I could,” he said of finding votes and bringing the Arden Hills Vikings’ stadium proposal to fruition.
Lux said Dayton and he didn’t even talk about the stadium at all during their meeting.
“No, we did not,” he said.
One idea that has been floated for Block E is a casino. And gambling money has long been considered a possible source of revenue for building a new stadium.