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Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf tells reporters Thursday evening that he is optimsitic legislators will approve a new stadium before they finish work for the year next month. With him is Sen. Doug Magnus of Slayton, one of several lawmakers Wilf met Thursday to promote a stadium bill. The team owner refused to discuss specifics about the bill with reporters. Forum Communications photo by Don Davis

Vikings owner offers lawmaker comfort

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news Woodbury, 55125
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

ST. PAUL -- At least one key legislator feels better about backing a new Minnesota Vikings stadium after meeting with the team owner.

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"It's brought some comfort to my decision to co-author the bill," Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, said.

Owner Zygi Wilf met with Magnus and other legislators Thursday as time runs out for legislators to approve a stadium. The Legislature faces a May 23 constitutional adjournment date.

The owner said he is confident that a deal can be worked out by the deadline.

Wilf would not discuss specifics with reporters, other than to deny that he is negotiating to sell the team.

However, he did say that he is talking to several local governments that could host a stadium.

"We are very optimistic," he Wilf said.

A stadium faces many legislative obstacles, including Republican opposition to raising taxes, which a stadium bill introduced early this week would use to partially fund a stadium.

Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, put forward the stadium plan because the Vikings' lease at the Metrodome in Minneapolis ends after next season.

The proposal would authorize a 10 percent tax at the wholesale level on sports memorabilia statewide and implement a 5 percent surcharge on player salaries. It also would allow a stadium-related lottery game to help with the state's commitment, which would not exceed $300 million.

Wilf would be required to put up at least a third of stadium construction cost.

Magnus called the Lanning-Rosen plan "a framework."

"We've got to get the numbers together," Magnus said.

Even though the state budget remains to be decided, Magnus said lawmakers can get the job done. "We can multi-task."

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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