The bill that would fund a new football stadium in Minnesota currently is generating little buzz and, for those who want to get the project moving, plenty of concern.
As Mike Kazsuba of the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported, the proposal likely won’t have a single hearing in the Legislature until April 26, at the earliest. Last year, a proposed bill was introduced late in the session, and it quickly died.
“It might be the same mistake bringing it in this late,” Rep. Mike Nelson, a co-author of the 2011 bill, said earlier this week. “They should have put it in in the beginning of the session [January], let it sit there, let people scream and holler about it.”
Others think the delay was aimed at eventually ramming the plan through the Legislature with minimal scrutiny. “I think time is clearly running out,” Rep. Frank Hornstein, an opponent of the plan, explained. “My concern is that there will be an effort very late to try to push it through.”
At least one fairly high-profile politician favors the bill — and realizes the consequences of failing to get it passed. “I certainly would hate to see the Los Angeles Vikings along with the Los Angeles Lakers,” Governor Mark Dayton told Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. “It would just be a travesty. It’s also what makes us a big-league city. You and I can go back to when the Metrodome was built, that was controversial. [But] here you have had, for that public investment . . . two World Series; one Super Bowl; all the athletics, college, high school and amateur; and rollerblading, Rolling Stone concerts and monster truck matches; and all the other uses of that major downtown facility. [It’s] been a phenomenal economic return. . . .
“[T]here’s a lot more use to this stadium than the Vikings. There’s a lot of jobs involved, all the benefits. It just would be very short-sighted to turn the other way. Now we have a budget. Yes I agree, that’s the No. 1 priority, but the Legislature is able to do more than one thing at a time, and to their credit, they do.”
The only problem is that the Legislature’s multitasking strategy could consist of working on the state budget with one hand — and giving the Governor and the Vikings the finger with the other.
That’s their prerogative, as long as they realize that failure to act now means that the Vikings will soon be residing next door to the Lakers.