One of the major sticking points in the fight for a Vikings' stadium in Minneapolis is the fact that any expenditure for a sports venue exceeding more than $10 million is supposed to be subject to a referendum, a change that was made to the Minneapolis city charter back in 1997.
A lot of people have shouted long and loud about this, despite the fact that said referendum was completely bypassed for the construction of Target Field. However, the legislation that was introduced on Friday goes around the requirement for a referendum.
Mayor R.T. Rybak has proposed redirecting existing hospitality taxes to pay for the city's share of the stadium. Those taxes currently pay for operations and debt related to the city's convention center. Rybak and other stadium backers argue that since the taxes are authorized by the state, the state is merely reclaiming them.
"These are state dollars," Rybak said last week. "And the state imposes them on the city, and the state has control over them in the city."
Specifically, the bill says that, "Any amounts expended, indebtedness or obligation incurred, or actions taken by the city under this article are not deemed an expenditure or other use of city resources within the meaning of any law or charter limitation."
I can't see this possibly just sliding by. My guess is that, if the bill does pass and the Minneapolis City Council does sign off on it and all that, there's still going to be legal wrangling taking place.
We haven't been able to take any steps in this process so far without significant drama. I'd be willing to guess that the rest of the steps will be filled with drama, too. Hopefully, in the end, the right result will come about and we'll be talking about how awesome the new Vikings' stadium will be when it opens in 2016 (the projected opening date at this point in time).