MARSHALL - Last April, District 22 Republican Sen. Doug Magnus co-authored a bill for a National Football League stadium development plan that would provide for the construction, financing, and long-term use of a stadium for the Vikings.
Nearly a year later, as many new players have entered the stadium game, dozens of ideas have been brought forward to get a stadium deal completed.
But is there such a thing as too many ideas?
"Yes and no," said Magnus of Slayton. "As we have gone through this process, everyone was struggling with location. We've had good ideas, bad ideas, good ideas gone bad on the location through this whole thing. There's a lot of frustration and a lot of Vikings fatigue with all that has been going on."
The wheels behind the stadium continue in motion and in some ways have picked up steam:
The Vikings said Tuesday they have reached a tentative deal with the University of Minnesota on how much the team will pay to use TCF Stadium while a new Vikings stadium is being built. The "agreement in principle" would add about 3,000 temporary end zone seats to the 50,000-seat stadium.
Also on Tuesday, team owner Zygi Wilf met with Gov. Mark Dayton and chief authors of the stadium bill. Negotiations were focused on putting a new stadium on the current Metrodome site.
On Wednesday, Rep. Rod Hamilton of Mountain Lake filed a bill to build a new stadium in Ramsey County (the Arden Hills site) and pay for it with tax money from electronic bingo games and pull-tabs in bars and restaurants. It was Hamilton's first appearance in the stadium game, and his bill, which would see a new, 65,000-seat stadium open in 2016, is similar to the Arden Hills proposal the Vikings and Ramsey County had been pushing for most of the last year. That proposal has been abandoned as stadium negotiations re-focused on rebuilding at or near the current Metrodome site.
And finally on Thursday, Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain put his helmet on and got in on the game when he proposed a bill that would have the state contribute $300 million from sales taxes on stadium-related purchases including tickets, concessions and parking. His bill would also eliminate the state's business property tax which he says would make it easier for the Vikings to get private support for the project. He says he's trying to find a plan that can pass the Legislature, but cutting the taxpayer contribution, the Associated Press reported, would leave the Vikings to significantly increase their own contribution, from a current proposal of about $425 million to as much as $700 million.
All this action in a matter of three days.
"It's one thing to introduce a bill, it's another thing to get it passed and get the governor to sign it," Magnus said. "Our group has been working on this for a long time, and as frustrating as it has been, we'll keep trying to push forward and work out a solution."
While Dayton has long said he supports building a "People's Stadium," he discarded Chamberlain's plan like someone crumpling up a piece of paper and throwing it the trash can.
"The Party of property tax increases is at it again," Dayton said in a news release. "Some Republican legislators now want to force me into accepting their scheme for eliminating all property taxes on businesses in order to get their approval for a new 'People's Stadium.'"
Dayton chided Republicans for not caring for "everyone else who pays property taxes in Minnesota, like home-owning families, farmers, senior citizens, and renters. Republican legislators proved last year that they don't care about those property tax burdens when they eliminated the Homestead Market Value Credit. If they now eliminated all the property taxes that businesses pay, everyone else's property taxes would inevitably increase in order to fund our cities, counties, townships, and public schools."
Dayton is standing by his pledge of not raising taxes - property or any other general tax - on Minnesotans to build a new stadium, but wants to close a deal to keep the team in Minnesota and put thousands of Minnesotans back to work.
Magnus said the location of a new stadium is all but nailed down; that would be the site next to the Metrodome. Tearing down the Dome, he said, makes no sense because it would mean the team would be forced to play at TCF Stadium for as many as three years. The Vikings played one game there last year when the Dome's roof collapsed and even just one game there opened up a big can of concerns and issues.
"In a one-game emergency situation it was fine, but I've said all along the notion of tearing down the Dome and playing there doesn't make sense. It's a fine stadium, but it was not built to play football in December and into January. It's hard to get there and hard to get out of there; you don't have the number of seats the Vikings need; the field is not heated so you would have to tear it up and make changes to that. Even the vending areas are not weather-controlled. It would take a lot of money to have the Vikings play there for more than just a game or two,"?he said.