ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Vikings have had no stronger booster at Minnesota’s Capitol than Gov. Mark Dayton, who now faces the Herculean task of trying to keep the team’s bid to build a taxpayer-subsidized new stadium alive in the waning days of the legislative session after the proposal failed a committee vote in the state House.
The House Government Operations Committee voted 9-6 against the stadium bill Monday night, dealing a major blow to the team’s decade-long effort to secure a replacement for the Metrodome. The vote came just after 10 p.m., following a four-hour hearing during which lawmakers heaped criticism on the $975 million planned partnership between the team, the state and the city of Minneapolis.
“Somebody’s going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat for this thing to be alive at this point,” said Rep. Morrie Lanning, the chief House sponsor of the stadium plan. A Senate version of the stadium bill has been stalled in that chamber for the last month.
Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ point man on the stadium push at the Capitol, said after the committee vote that the team was “extremely disappointed” at the outcome. “I guess I would ask the state, what else would you expect us to do? What else can we do?” he said.
Dayton has repeatedly stressed that he believes failure to help the team build a new stadium could result in Minnesota losing the Vikings to another city. The Democratic governor through a spokeswoman declined immediate comment on the committee vote.
Dayton was scheduled to meet Republican legislative leaders first thing Tuesday to talk about the final days of the session, which is expected to wrap up before the end of April. The developments of Monday night are likely to be a major part of that discussion. In addition to tying the team’s future to Minnesota, Dayton has been touting the stadium proposal as a way to create thousands of construction jobs.