MPR's Tim Nelson on stalled Vikings stadium bill

Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer and reporter Tim Nelson spoke this morning about the status of the Vikings stadium bill at the Capitol.

After a flurry of activity earlier this month, it looked like the Vikings stadium was on the fast track at the state Capitol. But a week after blowing a key deadline, a stadium bill looks as far out of reach as ever.

And if you're looking for where the Vikings stadium has gone wrong, at least lately, you can look to two places: the Apple Valley American Legion and the Minneapolis City Council.

The American Legion in Apple Valley is one of the hundreds of charitable gambling operations that were supposed to help pay about $38 million a year for the state share of stadium debt. That figure depended on legalizing electronic pull tabs and bingo. The state put out a projection of what each charity might get under the new system, hoping to win backing from the operations.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

But the gambit backfired because some of the new revenue appeared unrealistically high. In the case of the Apple Valley Legion, it was projected to take in what might have been four times its theoretical maximum for new pull tab revenue, a claim the Legion's gambling manager found dubious when we contacted him.

State revenue experts said the overall projections were good, but they also offered a disclaimer suggesting results may vary. That hedge made charities and lawmakers tentative about whether the deal would work, despite repeated assurances from Gov. Mark Dayton.

Some members of the Minneapolis City Council are also wary of the stadium bill for any number of reasons, but financing concerns are chief among them. The city takes in a substantial amount of money in hospitality taxes, but it also spends a lot on city-owned facilities, like the Convention Center and Target Center. Some council members are worried that earmarking some of that hospitality tax money for the Vikings stadium could leave them short for their own buildings years down the road.

The state and Mayor R. T. Rybak have argued repeatedly that a new stadium would be a good investment for the city, but council members are clearly still dubious.

(To hear their full conversation, click on the audio link above.)