Passage of Vikings stadium bill looks bleak, vote wanted by leaders

Howard Lestrud
ECM Online Managing Editor

Gov. Mark Dayton is hopeful that the “People’s Stadium” will get a vote in the House and Senate and possibly pass by one or two votes.

Dayton expressed a guarded optimism about passage of a Minnesota Vikings stadium bill when he visited with members of the ECM Editorial Board at the State Capitol on Friday, March 16.

The Editorial Board was at the Capitol on Friday to visit with Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, House Majority Leader Matt Dean, Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and Senate Majority Leader David Senjem. The Editorial Board also met with State Economist Tom Stinson.

Dayton admitted that financing for the stadium may be a stumbling block. He said the electronic pull tab proposal is the only option left standing at this time.

The governor did not shut the door on the Arden Hills site, either. He said if a bill does not pass this session of the Minnesota Legislature, the likely option would be to come back next year. He emphasized that all sites are back in the mix if nothing is done this session.

Asked if he would call a special session for the Vikings stadium this year, Dayton used this likelihood: “If a meteor were coming straight at Minnesota and it seemed like the Legislature would save us, then I would call them back.”

Dayton said he knew Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was frustrated and it could get to the point where he would sell the team and then the new owners would move the team.

Changing topics, the Editorial Board pointed Dayton toward state constitutional amendments that may be on the ballot in November. The marriage amendment has already been approved for the ballot and it is very likely that the voter ID amendment will be there, too, Dayton said.

Dayton said he believed it was necessary to have bipartisan support for the voter ID bill before it will pass. He said using constitutional amendment strategy to pass legislation was a poor way to legislate.

Talking about the payback of education funds, Dayton said he prefers to grow the economy before using reserves. The Republican leadership has proposed using reserves to pay the education funding back.

Talking about the economy, Dayton said Minnesota is leading the economic recovery of the country and has unemployment 2.8 percent below the national average. “We must do better, however,” he affirmed.

Dayton was asked about gridlock between the two major political parties. He said he did not have a solution but always thought compromise was the way to try to solve it.

Asked what surprises he has seen during his two years in office, Gov. Dayton said the intransigence of the Legislature has surprised him the most. He said the leadership seems to look at compromise as a weakness.