Minn. Senate leaders review the session

Senate floor
Senators debate the Vikings stadium bill in St. Paul, Minn. Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Lawmakers who supported legislation to build a new Vikings stadium are defending the deal as DFL Senate leaders take credit for putting up the votes needed to pass the bill.

Senators who voted in favor of the measure Thursday included 21 DFL members and just 15 Republicans -- even though Republicans control the body. The final vote was 36-30.

Senate DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk and Senate GOP Majority Leader Dave Senjem joined The Daily Circuit Friday to talk about the stadium deal after the Minnesota Legislative session adjourned sine die Thursday.

The state's share of the stadium funding package comes from taxes on charitable gambling, including electronic pulltabs. GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said there was more support in his caucus for different funding mechanisms for the stadium, such as user fees or capital bonding.

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"I happen to think that electronic pull tabs can work," he said. "There's a lot of people in our caucus that think maybe they won't work. And so you get the differences, you get the divide. I think generally speaking there are no questions, because I heard it in my caucus, everyone wanted a stadium, it's just a matter of how you get there."

Critics have argued the state is spending too much public money on the project and should have negotiated for the team to pay even more.

But DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said people need to put the Vikings' contribution in perspective.

"You know when we started these conversations, I mean serious deliberations, with the new owner back in about 2009, the Vikings' contribution was going to be $230 million," he said. "And we had tough negotiations over several years, and today they're going to put $477 million into this facility. I think the people that negotiated this deal, I think they did a pretty good job."

The state will pay $348 million dollars for the stadium, and the city of Minneapolis pays $150 million dollars. Governor Mark Dayton plans to sign the deal, and the Minneapolis City Council is also expected to give its approval in the coming weeks for construction of a $975 million dollar stadium in Minneapolis.

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