Gov. Mark Dayton has written to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega asking them to submit detailed plans by January 12 for a Vikings stadium in their respective communities.
In doing so, Dayton is making a play to get stadium legislation prepared for a vote early in the legislative session that begins January 24.
This isn’t the first time Dayton’s tried to use the calendar to speed the Vikings stadium process along. He set a deadline in November for the legislators to assemble legislation for a pre-Thanksgiving special session vote. Republican leaders who control the House and Senate demurred. When asked at a Capitol news conference on Thursday afternoon how this deadline differed from the others, Dayton made a wry reply: “The only difference is this one has not not been met yet.”
Legislative politics were altered at the end of last year when Sen. Amy Koch resigned as majority leader and Sen. David Senjem was elected as her successor. Dayton said he met with Senjem and members of the new Senate leadership team on Tuesday but they didn’t talk stadium specifics. There’s anticipation that Senjem’s elevation bodes well for stadium prospects because he’s a strong supporter of a possible stadium revenue source from allowing slot machines at horse racing tracks.
After talks between Dayton, Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers fell apart last year, a working group of legislators met on a weekly basis until the holidays to hash out stadium issues. It’s unclear how Dayton’s call for a deadline on the Minneapolis and Ramsey County plans affects the working group. But he said he agreed with stadium bill authors Sen. Julie Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning on the January 12 date. Dayton said the plans, when submitted, will provide a “basis for comparison” of the possible stadium sites.
Ramsey County officials want a stadium built on a former Army munitions site in Arden Hills. There are a couple of possible downtown Minneapolis stadium sites.
Rybak and Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson said they will meet the January 12 deadline with a “three-for-one deal.”
“Our plan,” Rybak said in a news release, “provides Minnesota with a three-for-one deal for the same price or less than the cost of the Arden Hills site. With our plan, we can build a real People’s Stadium in Minneapolis and secure the future of two other significant statewide assets: Target Center and the Convention Center. And for less cost, we can create far more good jobs.