The press corps offices at the Capitol cleared out this afternoon as reporters headed to Arden Hills to cover the big Minnesota Vikings news conference this afternoon. The Vikes announced they have partnered with Arden Hills and are looking to build a $1 billion stadium with a retractable roof on the site of an abandoned ammunitions plant.
The news comes after Minneapolis officials came forward with a proposal to build a new stadium at the site of the existing Metrodome yesterday. But the Vikings were cool that that plan.
So what do southeast Minnesota lawmakers think about all this talk of stadiums? I caught up with a few of them to get their thoughts.
Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said her focus is on solving the state's $5 billion budget deficit — not getting a stadium built. But she said once lawmakers reach a budget deal, she is willing to consider options for funding a Vikings stadium.
"If we’re talking revenue we should be talking about revenue to fund our schools, to fund our colleges, to make certain that we don’t kick 100,000 people off health care, to meet that is a priority and if we can do that and deal with the Vikings afterward, I am more than willing to keep an open mind," Norton said.
Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, said in order for any stadium deal to have his support, the people of Ramsey County would have to be given the chance to vote on any local tax increase proposals.
"I could support the plan only if the people of Ramsey County get a chance to vote on that sales tax. If it's something that forces them to take that (tax increase) or they don’t have any input then it doesn’t have my support," Benson said.
House Taxes Committee Chair Greg Davids said he is open to taking a closer look at the stadium proposal. But he said he does not back a proposal that would raise income taxes on football players to help cover the state's share of the cost.
I do have concerns with the income tax issue. I don’t know how we could consider income tax increases (for players) when we are demanding no income tax increases," Davids said.
DFL Austin Sen. Dan Sparks is also open to a possible stadium deal. But he said he wants to take a closer look at the specifics first.
"Obviously (a new stadium) could put a lot of people to work and the Minnesota Vikings are widely supported, but we have to be careful how we spend taxpayers dollars," he said.