Okay, we've been chronicling the Vikings stadium for awhile now, and most of it has been what we would call frustrating to bad news. There was a lot of inertia on it early (that means 'no movement' for those of you in Thief River Falls), then we got a plan that was pretty much panned by everyone not named Ramsey County Commissioners or Vikings Stadium PR guys, and all along the way, we've had political backbiting, cowardice, and a near declaration of war by Minneapolis in opposition of the Ramsey County plan. Oh, and the St. Paul mayor thinks the plan sucks, too.
But within the last couple of weeks, we've gotten a couple pieces of good news that make me think they might actually pull this thing off.
First there was some commission in Ramsey County that I didn't even know existed vote down a voter referendum on the proposed sales tax that would raise the County's portion towards a new facility. It was a long overdue victory in what seemed like a plan that was heading towards defeat or, as would be more typical in Minnesota, inaction.
But things are starting to move through the state political circles quicker than Ex-Lax laden brownies, and I hope at the end of this process, they will have crapped a new stadium out of their collective rear ends.
With that nice mental image, let's break it down, after the jump.
Apparently, Governor Mark Dayton realized that the Vikings might, you know, actually re-locate once their lease expires and they have no stadium on the horizon to move into. So he's decided to act like...what's the word I'm looking for here---a leader, yeah that's it---to try and get this thing done.
Earlier in the week he called for a three day Special Session of the legislature to conclude on the 21st of November to specifically discuss and approve the Vikings stadium. In announcing the special session, Dayton said he doesn't know if there are enough votes to pass the bill right now, and that's a huge risk.
If he rolls the dice and the bill fails, he will be--rightly or wrongly--known as The Governor Who Lost The Vikings. But he's doing all he can--finally--to try and get this thing across the finish line.
After the NFL pretty much said 'if you don't get a new stadium plan by the time the Metrodome lease expires, we won't stand in the way of the Vikings moving' without actually saying it, Dayton has started an all out push to get it done.
It sounds like he still has reservations on the Arden Hills stadium, and has said the Vikings will be responsible for any cost overruns , but he's also praised the plan and said it has some serious real estate development potential. He's also doing a couple of other things:
He's coming up with his own stadium plan, and says it will be ready by November 7th. From the Strib article:
His recommendations will include such details as where the new stadium should be, who should run it and how the state should pay for its $300 million share. Dayton and his top staffers and commissioners have been racing to see what could work and what won't in a final stadium deal.
Really? Two months before the Vikings can flip you the bird and say adios, NOW you're coming up with a plan? Look, better late than never, but where was this urgency before? And I would hope that the Vikings would be included in this plan, so it's a viable option for them.
He's also met with a Minneapolis group that wants to build a casino the block E section of town, and there's speculation that a new casino could help pay the state's cost of the $300 million that was pledged towards a new facility. No word yet on whether the Native American Casino mafia has flipped their collective lids yet, but I'm sure that's coming.
To me, it sounds like Dayton is trying to keep open as many options as possible, get a consensus, and then vote on a plan that can and will pass. There's still a lot of opposition, but it's nice to see that the Governor finally has a sense of urgency about this.