When it comes to the Vikings stadium situation, Minnesota politicians seem to be out of touch. And they’re nearly out of time.
The Vikings believe the lease expires on January 1, and they won’t do a short-term extension absent firm plans for the construction of a new stadium. At one point, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (pictured) planned to call a special session of the Legislature aimed at resolving, once and for all, the Vikings’ stadium situation. The special session was expected to commence on November 21.
With November 21 only four days away and no special session called yet, it’s clear that a special session won’t be happening in the short term.
Instead, the Minnesota Senate will hold a pair of all-day hearings regarding the situation. The first, on November 29, will address the location of the proposed stadium, focusing on the Arden Hills site preferred by the team and three possible locations in Minneapolis. Then, on December 6, the Senate will delve into funding possibilities to come up with $650 million that would be coupled with the $400 million contribution from the Vikings and the NFL.
Previously, the proposal called for Ramsey County to impose a sales tax that would raise $350 million, which would require the state to come up with only $300 million. But legislative leaders have decided that the local sales tax won’t fly, even though the powers-that-be in Ramsey County were willing to do it.
On Tuesday, Dayton described the chances of a special session as “doubtful,” which means that the Vikings stadium proposal will be lumped into an election-year regular session that starts in January, which will increase the likelihood that the legislators’ positions will be influenced more by their own interests in getting re-elected and less by the question of whether devoting public funds to a new facility meshes with the best interests of the citizens whom they represent.
It also sets the stage for a possible legal battle regarding the question of whether the Vikings become free agents after the final game of the 2011 season, or whether they must remain in the Metrodome for one more year.