White Earth tribe offers $400M toward stadium in exchange for new casino

White Earth Band chairwoman Erma Vizenor
White Earth Band chairwoman Erma Vizenor outlines her new proposal for a metro-area casino at the State Capitol on Thursday, April 5, 2012.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

The White Earth Indian Nation says it will put up $400 million for a Vikings stadium if it can get a Metro area casino.

The tribe has offered to contribute before, but now says it will pay the entire state share of the proposed stadium, which will cost a total of $975 million.

The tribe is also prepared to build a $700 million casino in the metro area, and split the annual proceeds with the state, tribal chairwoman Erma Vizenor said at a news conference Thursday. She estimated the casino would bring in $1.5 billion each year.

"I think our interest, and should be all Minnesotans, is to start construction tomorrow on a stadium," she said. "And it costs no taxes, and that the state doesn't have to go to the bond market with questionable proposals."

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Vizenor also offered to contribute $12 million annually to increase purses at the state's two horse tracks.

Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, is sponsoring a bill in the state Senate to authorize the plan. He said it could be an engine for economic development and employment.

Stadium concept
The Minnesota Vikings released this concept of a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, April, 2, 2012. This concept depicts a night scene incorporating the downtown skyline and events surrounding Vikings game days.
Coutesy of the Minnesota Vikings

"We would have approximately $1.7 billion between the two projects, and well over 5,000 jobs during the construction phases," he said.

Vizenor said White Earth's contribution would depend on it gaining legal approval to operate a casino in the metro area, which could be years away.

Other Indian gaming operators say they oppose White Earth's casino plan. Gov. Mark Dayton has said in the past that he's interested in the idea, but that a likely court battle over the casino makes it an impractical option for paying for a stadium.