State sets Friday Vikings stadium deadline
By Don Davis
State Capitol Bureau
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Vikings owners met with Gov. Mark Dayton, key legislators and Ramsey County officials this afternoon, coming away with one agreement: They need to write a bill by Friday.
"The end of this week is essentially the deadline," Dayton said after the 90-minute meeting.
No one in the meeting could specify details about what they accomplished today and none expressed optimism about the deal getting done.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us," said Zygi Wilf, who with his brother and fellow owner Mark Wilf picked an Arden Hills site for a new stadium.
Dayton said those involved in preparing a stadium bill need to resolve a gap in funding of up to $130 million, decide transportation needs for a new stadium and make arrangements for how the stadium will be governed.
Dayton and key legislators say the state will pay no more than $300 million, which leaves a stadium construction plan short.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said that while there could be legislative committee meetings on the stadium as early as next week, if there is agreement by then, no votes will come until after the state budget is resolved.
"All of us remain committed to keeping the Vikings in Minnesota," said Lanning, the chief House stadium bill author.
The Wilfs say they will not renew their lease in the Metrodome when it expires after next season, meaning the issue must be decided this year. A vote could come in a special legislative session that Dayton will need to call to pass a state budget.
Almost all of the state's two-year budget, to begin on July 1, remains unresolved. While legislative leaders and Dayton plan to meet Wednesday, there is no sign a breakthrough is near.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.