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Advocates still pushing new Vikings home

  |   Nov. 4, 2011 at 2:13 PM
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ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers say they still hope they can bring plans for a new Vikings stadium to a special session by late January.

Dayton said Thursday while plans for a special session before Thanksgiving were no longer possible, partially due to opposition from Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers, he is hoping for a special session before the state Legislature's regular session starts Jan. 24, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Friday.

Republican Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorehead, the chief author of the bill in the House, said he disagrees with Zellers' position that the stadium isn't important enough to warrant a special session and more time should be taken debating the proposals.

"But there comes a point where leadership has to step forward," Lanning said. "If it has to be those of us who are rank-and-file [legislators] to step forward as leaders, so be it."

Zellers said Thursday he believes the stadium would be a "30-year project" if it were to last as long as the Metrodome.

"We should do it right and we should take our time to do it right. Without question we should have public input. And I don't know that we could get a plan, have that introduced and have the public input in the time that we had," Zellers said.

Dayton said previously this week there wasn't political will among state lawmakers to grant Ramsey County an exemption to impose a sales tax to finance its $350 million share of the $650 million in taxpayer money needed for the $1.1 billion, 65,000-seat stadium without putting it before county voters in a referendum. Other financing options are being floated, with various forms of gambling revenue -- a racino, a casino, e-pulltabs or getting Indian casinos to contribute -- all in the mix, though some have suggested adding a few pennies to the cost of a drink in bars and restaurants across the state.

Dayton, a Democrat, isn't saying what his choice is yet, saying revealing it would be "counterproductive" and deferring to Republican leaders to lead the way.

The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome, where they've played for 30 years, expires following the end of the season, meaning the owners, led by New Jersey developer Zygi Wilf, could move the team elsewhere.

There are three Twin Cities sites under consideration, with the Vikings preferring one in the St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills over two across the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis.

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