Gov. Mark Dayton took a softer line today on a plan to charge Vikings fans a seat fee to help fund a new stadium in Minneapolis.
Dayton said that he would accept the concept, but that he didn't think it had been fully disclosed during stadium negotiations this spring.
"The legislation is 70 pages long, but it didn't cover every detail, and not every card was face up on the table," Dayton said. "Fortunately, we have a system where we have the stadium development authority responsible for issuing these stadium builder licenses ... They're the ones who now can decide, and should decide, what level of these seat licenses are appropriate, if any at all."
His comments come two days after he sent a harshly worded letter to the Vikings, decrying their apparent plan to pay for part of their $477 million share of the stadium construction with the proceeds from one-time seat license fees charged to ticket holders. He said he strongly opposes shifting "any part of the team's responsibility for those costs onto Minnesota Vikings fans."
But Dayton said he had made his wishes known, and was not planning to reopen the stadium legislation. He said he'll allow the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority to strike a compromise with the Vikings.
"I know no one in my organization knew, and I don't believe anyone else in the Legislature knew the magnitude of what were then referred to as personal seat licenses," Dayton said of the stadium deal he signed off on in May.
He said he believed the team would follow the Twins pattern, who sold licenses for a seats in a small section of Target Field for several thousand dollars.
Dayton added he isn't concerned the disagreement will derail construction of the new stadium.
"To me, this process is working," Dayton said. "This will happen with other issues that we're probably not even aware of right now that are going to come up. They'll be little glitches, we'll work it out. I'm still confident we have the right system in place."
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