Folks, the game appears to be afoot in the Minneapolis City Council. One councilmember, Betsy Hodges, reportedly a stadium opponent, seems to have added an extra committee meeting. The report is that they won't vote on anything at that meeting, but I would anticipate that she plans to have people who agree with her complain about the deal for as long as possible. It seems they aren't taking public testimony, which probably means that impression from the hearing will be fairly lopsided.
But that's not the part that worries me. The part that worries me is this:
Council Member Gary Schiff, another opponent of the plan, said that he plans to offer a series of riders to the city's support that would likely need to be ratified by the Legislature if passed by the Council. They include extending the team's lease beyond 30 years and offsetting the city's share with user fees.
These riders cannot pass. If they do, even if whatever Schiff wants was ultimately agreeable by the Vikings, ratification by the legislature is not possible this year without a special session, which seems highly unlikely. Schiff knows that and seems to be trying to kill the deal.
Hopefully, he won't get any of the 7 purported yes votes to go with him on these riders, but as we saw in the votes on the Marty and Howe amendments in the senate, sometimes things can go differently than expected.
If you live in Minneapolis, now is the time to contact your city council member and tell them to ratify the stadium plan as is. You can find out who represents you and how to contact them here.
My suggestions about messaging are after the jump.
Some things you might want to highlight if you're contacting your city council member:
1. The bill passed by the legislature is the result of careful negotiations among the team, the state and the mayor. While the deal isn't perfect from anyone's perspective, it's compromise that everyone should be able to live with. That compromise should be respected.
2. The deal will allow the city to deal with the fiscal drag created by the Target Center, and provide new revenues to help relieve pressure on property taxes.
3. There is a real risk that the Vikings will leave, whether right away or a few years down the road, if this stadium isn't built.
4. Losing the team will have significant costs for the city in terms of (1) direct tax revenues on purchases by people attending events at the stadium, (2) prestige and standing by no longer having an NFL team, and (3) in redevelopment terms by having a woefully under-utilized Metrodome without an anchor tenant blighting the east side of downtown.