Another long day of political grappling, another victory for the Vikings stadium bill. The verdict came down around midnight local time from the floor of the Minnesota Senate. The stadium passes by a tally of 38 for, 28 against. As with the House version of the bill, the Senate bill is not entirely what the Vikings had in mind. Amendments pushed the team’s proposed share of the stadium cost up by $25 million – a hefty sum but not as hefty as the $105 million extra the Vikes are asked to kick in under the House bill. The two bills will now pass on to conference committee, whose job it will be to find a middle ground between those two numbers.
On the surface we appear to be in for a stand-off between the state and the team over the team’s share of the stadium cost. Didn’t the Vikings declare $427 million to be the highest they would go? And isn’t the legislature dead-set on making them pay more? But the experts assure us there are plenty of ways for the Vikings to find the extra money without Zygi Wilf having to pay out of his own pocket. They could take the money out of whatever naming rights deal they strike for the new facility, for instance. Or they could take out a loan from the NFL.
For what it’s worth, the Vikings’ rhetoric regarding their increased share of the stadium bill has softened since Monday. In the wake of the House vote, Lester Bagley called the bill “unworkable.” But Bagley’s words were more conciliatory after the Senate handed down their own number. Bagley said the Vikings would stand behind their original pledge but admitted “it has to be a package deal and a negotiation that works for all parties — the Vikings, the state, the city.”
We won’t know the final numbers until after the committee does its work. Passage of the bill through said committee should be a relatively smooth process given that all six members are folks who already voted yes to the bill. And when the committee’s done the bill goes back into the process for more voting. This was all explained by a singing document on Saturday morning TV years ago, if you recall.