View Full Version : Vikings want in on Twins bill

04-30-2006, 08:00 AM
Posted on Sat, Apr. 29, 2006

Vikings want in on Twins bill

Wilf proposes combining stadium legislation; baseball backers fear it's a deal killer

Pioneer Press

The Minnesota Vikings said Friday that the Minnesota Twins are their only hope for a new stadium.

There was no time for subtlety.

Having fallen behind the Twins in the stadium sweepstakes, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf came on strong during a long day Friday at the Legislature, telling a strategic committee that unless the Vikings stadium campaign is directly tied to the more successful Twins campaign, his team's quest for a stadium is dead this year.

The talk frayed the nerves of Twins supporters, who worry that the weight of the Vikings might sink their own ballpark project.

Wilf asked the Senate Taxes Committee for a "fair shake,' conceding he might have given up an important bargaining position when he proclaimed he'll never move the Vikings from Minnesota.

It was a veiled reference to past Twins threats to leave. The Twins have not made such a threat in recent years, although their ballpark supporters, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty, worry that the team ultimately will disappear without a new ballpark.

But Wilf renewed his pledge Friday, saying he'll keep the team here whether they play in a new stadium or a "Pop Warner field.'

Wilf's stadium point man, team Vice President Lester Bagley, implored the committee to tack Vikings legislation onto a Twins bill in order to give the team a chance at the Capitol before the session ends May 22.

"Splitting the Twins bill and the Vikings bill kills the Vikings chances for this session,' Bagley said.

Here's why:

The Vikings bill in the Senate has no companion measure in the House, so it would need passage in the Senate as part of a Twins bill in order to end up in a House-Senate conference committee, where a compromise on stadium funding would be sought. The House passed a Twins bill Wednesday.

"Allow us the opportunity to be discussed in a conference committee,' Wilf said during testimony filled with assurances that his proposed $1.5 billion stadium, retail and entertainment project in Blaine would give the north suburb the same sparkle as the Mall of America gave Bloomington in the south.

But combining Vikings legislation with the Twins bill made the baseball team nervous. There's no guarantee that House conferees would approve a Vikings stadium, since a Vikings vote never was taken on the House floor.

In other words, the Vikings could sink the Twins.

"The last thing Bell would want is for it to be tied to the Twins bill,' said Sen. Bill Belanger, R-Bloomington, referring to Twins stadium pointman Jerry Bell.

Watching from the sidelines of the committee, Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna, told the Pioneer Press, "We know that if they put the two together, the whole thing will go down."

When Bell was asked by the committee chairman if he feared the Vikings linkage, he said diplomatically that it is fine with the Twins if the Vikings get a stadium, but the political pitfalls make him anxious.

Meanwhile, the committee continued to debate an attempt by Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, to broaden the proposed Hennepin County sales tax for the Twins stadium to a seven-county metro tax for the two stadiums.

Kelley, a candidate for governor, would impose a 0.5 percent sales tax that he said would pay for the stadiums more quickly and equitably, eliminating the need for large long-term interest payments on construction loans.

The alternate sales tax, strongly supported by committee chairman Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, makes more sense than a one-county 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin county alone, Kelley said. The single-county tax, approved by the House Wednesday on a strong bipartisan vote, would only finance a $522 million Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis.

Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum said there's no chance the new tax plan would win support outside the DFL-controlled Senate, meaning not in the House and not by Pawlenty. Some Senate Republicans claimed Pogemiller is trying to put the heat on Pawlenty to approve taxes he normally would oppose, while minority leader Day said in a statement that Pogemiller's ego is the problem.

Day said he fears partisan politics will kill the Twins bill and perhaps the University of Minnesota stadium bill also. He distributed a release saying Pogemiller "manages to insert himself into every piece of high-profile legislation, do some grandstanding, propose supposedly high-minded alterations, and then pretend he's the honest broker of a final deal.'

Pogemiller said all such assertions are "silly,' and that as taxes committee chairman, it's his duty to find the best tax structure for Minnesotans.

The partisan fight continued in the discussion of the Gophers bill, a similar version of which was approved by the House in early April on a strong bipartisan vote. But it's stalemated in the Senate committee.

Pogemiller, whose district includes the University of Minnesota, is chief sponsor of one Gophers bill, while Republican Sen. Geoff Michel of Edina is chief sponsor of a similar one.

The five Republicans on the committee want Michel's bill approved, based on the fact that he was the first to introduce it. Pogemiller said in an interview that it's only fair that he, a Democrat, be the chief author, since the House author and the governor, who also seeks a Gophers stadium, are both Republicans.

The House passed its Gophers bill 103-30, a sign to politicians that it's a popular issue.

But Pogemiller has been unable to get seven votes for his bill, out of 12 committee members. Though seven members are DFLers, one of them, Sen. John Marty of Roseville, won't vote for either Gophers bill because he said they provide too much state money for a stadium while other educational needs go lacking.

Despite several tries over two days, Pogemiller has been unable to get one Republican to fill the void left by Marty, which distinguishes the Senate deliberations from the bipartisan actions in the House. With Marty joining the five Republicans, the chairman's bill has gone down twice on 6-6 votes, even though he changed some basic financing elements to win Republican support the second time.

The $248 million Gopher stadium would be built on a surface parking lot across Oak Street from Mariucci and Williams arenas on the U's Minneapolis campus.

Pogemiller promised that a Gophers bill ultimately will be approved by the committee, but said he was not sure how it would be accomplished. He scheduled taxes committee meetings today and Sunday on technical matters concerning the three stadium plans, but said he will not take votes. Those may come Monday.

He predicted a Twins bill will be approved, also. He said he hoped a Vikings measure would succeed also, but offered no guarantees.

Aron Kahn can be reached at akahn@pioneerpress.com.

Vikings want in on Twins bill (http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/news/local/14456892.htm)

04-30-2006, 08:40 AM
Just accept them all man.. C'mon... Lets get these issues out of the State's hair.. If they just accept these bills for all 3, then the state can concentrate on more 'serious' issues.


04-30-2006, 08:53 AM
big whoop .5% for an extra tax. in canada tax is 14% on every purchase, i know it's gotta be less than that in the states, so why all the fuss.

04-30-2006, 11:57 PM
Tell me you must mean .05% tax?

05-01-2006, 05:18 PM
i don't quite get it in the UK the team's pay for their own stadium's.
then again looking at the stadium's we have in the UK and the one's in the USA you guy's have realy good stadium's.
wish they could just get them built already or soon Minnesota will look like LA old stadium's and no team's to play in them.

05-01-2006, 05:35 PM
I can't really judge one way or the other seeing as though I don't live in Minnesota. I don't know how your campaigns work, and how your reps are.
I do know that both the Twins and Vikings need new stadiums if they are to ever get ahead.. The Metrodome is outdated, and while it seems like every other NFL team is getting a new stadium, or being approved for a new stadium, the Vikings sit waiting and wondering..