After months of waiting, two Republican lawmakers have formally submitted a bill to the Legislature to build a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium.
The team has been pushing for a new stadium to replace the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis for years. The effort gained more steam after the roof of the Metrodome collapsed in December under the weight of a heavy snowstorm.
The bill calls for construction of a roofed stadium, with at least a third of the cost paid for by the team. The state and the local community where the stadium is built could finance their portion with a variety of taxes, including a local half cent sales tax.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, is one of the bill's two chief authors. She said she's been working to reach a consensus on the plan for much of the session.
"I'm somewhat relieved to have it dropped," she said. "Now, hopefully, the conversation, the collaboration, the explaining of the importance of this people's stadium" can proceed.
Rosen said she understands it comes at a difficult time. The state is facing a $5 billion dollar budget shortfall, and a GOP measure proposes ending state-run health care for many poor Minnesotans.
"That is the challenge, and so timing is always critical and its important to be respectful of those issues," she said. "I think we have with the timing of this piece of this legislation."
Gov. Mark Dayton welcomed the introduction of the long-awaited bill and said he wants a decision made on it in this legislative session.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, is the chief sponsor in the House. Two Twin Cities DFLers -- Rep. Leon Lillie of North St. Paul and Sen. John Harrington of St. Paul, have also signed on as authors.