A day after they narrowly signalled preliminary approval of the financing plan for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, the Minneapolis City Council will take a final vote on the same measure today.
If it passes, the Vikings will have cleared the final hurdle in their long-running effort to win a taxpayer-subsidized home for the NFL franchise.
The plan has 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.
As he watched opponents try to scuttle the plan at Thursday's meeting ahead of the 7-6 vote, plan supporter Mayor R.T. Rybak said there was no turning back.
"We're gonna disagree on whether this is a perfect deal or not. But I can tell you there is no way on God's green earth that we're going to go back to the Legislature and have the governor say, 'Oh, OK, never mind about all that political capital I had. Welcome back Minneapolis, lets go do another thing. Let's take a run at statewide funding of penny-a-drink or something like that. I'd love that.'" he said. "There's no way that's going to pass."
“There is no way on God's green earth that we're going to go back to the Legislature.”Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak
Still, stadium opponents, like City Council member Cam Gordon, said they had hoped taxes that now pay for the Convention Center would be going away in 2020, rather than being spent on something else. Gordon represents the eastern edge of the city along I-94.
"What I was hoping was that eventually, when the Convention Center was paid off, maybe we could peel back a few taxes and still have some resources to fund the Target Center or other things," he said. "But now we're going to have those on our backs. That's going to be a burden that we're going to have to bear, that we're going to have to pay for."
Council member Lisa Goodman, who represents the downtown area, cited studies that questioned whether stadium projects would have any impact on the city's economy -- rather than just crowding out other Minneapolis commerce.
"They clearly create what's called a substitution effect," she said. "Individuals maintain a consistent level of entertainment spending, so money spent on sporting events typically comes at the expense of cash spent on restaurants, travel, movie theaters or other things."
Her argument didn't win any votes.
Council member Meg Tuthill, who supports the plan and represents the Uptown and Lowry Hill areas, said she doesn't really care about the Vikings. She wants the stadium available for other uses.
"There are 14 to 16 different conventions that are waiting to see what we're going to do about coming to Minneapolis. Because they're too big for the convention center," she said, citing the potential economic benefit. "I want those people here."
The council is scheduled to take up the measure Friday morning.