The Minneapolis City Council has given final approval to a financing package that will build the Minnesota Vikings a new, taxpayer-subsidized, billion-dollar stadium on the site of the Metrodome.
The 7-6 vote represented the final hurdle team owners faced after Gov. Mark Dayton signed off on the package passed by the Legislature on May 14.
Mayor R.T. Rybak said that while he isn't happy about subsidizing professional sports, the deal frees up sales tax revenues that the city was in danger of losing without a stadium deal.
"I hope people will recognize what this is about," he said. "It's one of those tough decisions you need every generation or so to keep a city moving forward. It's also based on what's been something that I've had to deal with from the start, which is to clean up the city's finances. And I think we did that."
The plan calls for Minneapolis putting more than $650 million of sales and hospitality taxes into the construction, financing and upkeep of the stadium over a 30-year period. That figure includes $150 million in up-front costs . It also replaces property taxes that now pay for part of the city-owned Target Center.
In total, the law commits the state and city of Minneapolis to pay a combined $498 million, while the team will bring in $477 million from private sources.
The state will cover roughly $348 million of the construction costs through taxes on new electronic versions of pulltab gambling, a low-tech paper game sold by charitable organizations in bars and restaurants.
The Vikings pursued a stadium for more than a decade, but had little leverage until their lease at the Metrodome expired this past year. The team's owners never threatened to move the team, but the Vikings were frequently mentioned as a potential fit for the vacant Los Angeles market.
Still, the stadium legislation championed by Dayton appeared to be dying this spring before an April visit by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell resurrected it.
With the plan's passage, attention will now turn to the business of actually building the billion-dollar facility. A five-member authority will be set up to oversee construction: Mayor Rybak will appoint two people to the panel, Gov. Mark Dayton will name three -- two members and a chair.
The law lays out a complicated bidding process on the project, and either the stadium authority or the Vikings or both can oversee construction.
The massive construction project will likely not begin until the spring of 2013. And the Metrodome is likely going to be standing at least until January of 2015. It's still going to be the home of the Vikings until they finish the last game of the 2014 season, so there are at least 30 more games to play, maybe more if their fortunes suddenly reverse and they make the playoffs.