City Council voting on Vikings stadium this week

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May 21, 2012 by Sarah M

// By Nick Halter //

Vikings fans rejoiced at the Minnesota Capitol on May 10 after the Legislature voted to pass a public subsidies package for a Vikings stadium.

One final hurdle remains before planning can begin on how to the $975 million facility. The City Council will need to reaffirm its support for the project, which is likely to happen on May 25.

In April, seven City Council members signed letters saying they would support a deal that includes diverting over $600 million in sales taxes to the construction, operation and interest on bonds for the new facility.

Following the passage of the stadium bill at the Legislature in early May, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he was confident he still has seven votes on the 13-member council.

“I’ve spoken to most of the members, and it’s clear that they remain in support,” he said. “They gave us the authority to go to the Legislature with a very tough set of requirements, and every single one of them wound up in the legislation.”

Council members Kevin Reich (Ward 1) and Sandy Colvin Roy (Ward 12) were the final two members to signal their support for the stadium deal.

Colvin Roy said the deal had gotten better since she signed her letter, but Reich on May 11 said he was still reviewing the legislation, although nothing in it had raised red flags that might make him change his mind.

“Right now I am reviewing every line of it, and obviously I have to determine if what’s in there, line-by-line, is consistent with some of the goals and concerns I had,” he said.

Reich will likely have until May 24 to determine if the bill is satisfactory. That’s when the bill will go before the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee, said City Council President Barb Johnson. That committee is comprised of all 13 members of the Council. If approved, it would need final approval at the next day’s full council meeting.

A leading opponent of the stadium deal, Gary Schiff, said he won’t be able to offer any amendments to the bill because the Legislature is out of session and can’t vote on any changes.

“We’ve been presented a take-it-or-leave-it bill, and the City Council has never been allowed to amend the bill,” said Schiff, noting that the final bill increased the Vikings’ contribution to the deal by $50 million, but that money went to the state, not the city.

Rybak said the bill will give the city a claw back, or a cut of the profits should Zygi Wilf sell the team during the 30-year lease in the building. He said it would also allow the city to collect sales taxes on Vikings tickets. Both of those items were added late in negotiations.

The third-term mayor said plans are on track for a Target Center renovation as part of the deal, which he estimated at around $135 million.

“Now we’ll begin a negotiation with the owners of the Timberwolves — Glen Taylor and the Timberwolves, and AEG who manages the building — to make sure we have a significant private contribution (and to determine what will be in the renovation),” Rybak said.

Property taxes are projected to increase by 4 percent in 2013, but Rybak said that the stadium deal would allow sales taxes to pay for Target center debt and thus reduce that property tax increase to 2 percent.

How they voted

The House passed the Vikings stadium bill on a 71-60 vote. The Senate passed the same bill on a 36-30 vote. Here’s how Minneapolis lawmakers voted:

Voting in favor of the stadium deal:

Reps. Bobby Jo Champion and Paul Thissen

Sens. Linda Higgins and Ken Kelash

Voting against the stadium deal:

Reps. Susan Allen, Karen Clark, Marion Greene, Jim Davnie, Frank Hornstein, Phyliss Kahn, Diane Loeffler, Joe Mullery and Jean Wagenius

Sens. Scott Dibble, Kari Dziedzic, Jeff Hayden and Patricia Torres Ray.

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