Lawmakers playing games with stadium issue, Dayton charges
Time to stop playing games, governor says
by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
A feisty Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton urged state lawmakers on Tuesday, Nov. 8 to “stop playing games” and act on a Vikings’ stadium.
“Come on. What are we doing here?” asked Dayton at a Capitol press conference.
“This is about moving Minnesota forward,” he said of finding a stadium solution.
Dayton’s goading of lawmakers comes the week when the governor had been planning to release his own Vikings’ stadium proposal.
But Republican legislative leaders last week left a meeting with the governor speaking of holding hearings on the stadium rather than biting on Dayton’s proposal to hold a special legislative session prior to Thanksgiving.
Dayton argues that establishing a tight time frame is key to finding a stadium solution.
The Minnesota Vikings are active.
In recent days, the team released an ad on local television that asks Minnesotans to find a stadium solution.
Vikings’ Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley along with Vikings’ team players were in Lakeville on Tuesday at a luncheon with the Burnsville and Lakeville chambers of commerce for a program that included a stadium status report.
“They’re our team,” said Dayton of the Vikings. They want to remain in Minnesota, but they need a new stadium to do it, he said.
Besides keeping the Vikings in Minnesota, Dayton argues that building a new stadium would create thousands of private sector construction jobs — he’s “mystified” lawmakers fail to make this connection — in addition to offering a means for remedying urban blight and in the case of Arden Hills, clean up a contaminated area.
Dayton charged that lawmakers, unwilling to vote on a stadium, were putting their jobs as legislators ahead of thousands of needed jobs that a big construction project would bring. Dayton, as in past, would not say which of the stadium proposals, Arden Hills or ones in downtown Minneapolis, that he favors.
A stadium could be built without using any state general fund taxpayer dollars, Dayton said.
Dayton indicated a preference for the use of pull-tab dollars, but did not rule out racino, a sales tax on sports memorabilia, or most other potential funding sources. But he did indicate that he did not favor the use Legacy Amendment dollars for stadium financing.
Dayton absolved his stadium front man Ted Mondale from slowing the pace of the stadium debate by unleashing questions about the Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome — questions have arisen on exactly how quickly the team could leave. But Dayton indicated that indeed the pace of the debate had slowed.
“I don’t know how to regain that,” he said.
Letting the Vikings’ stadium issue slip into the regular legislative session in January will serve only to dilute it, Dayton argued.
The stadium issue would then be in “limbo” even longer, he said.
Dayton did not specifically mention the names of lawmakers whom he perceives as playing games. “If the shoe fits, wear it,” he quipped.
But an email from House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, to Republican lawmakers that come to light last week indicated the speaker had decided against a special session, though Dayton said Zellers had never indicated that to him.
“It’s time for the leaders of the Legislature to show some leadership,” Dayton said.