There have been a lot of twists and turns regarding proposals for a new Vikings stadium over the last couple of days. Breaking news of a Supreme Court ruling certainly did not help the stadium proponents' cause.
This morning the Supreme Court announced it ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by the legislative majority, which sought to overturn $2.7 billion in budget reductions Gov. Tim Pawlenty made in 2009. The court ruled Pawlenty exceeded his executive power and this could result in an immediate state budget deficit of more than $3 billion.
We are still awaiting clarification on whether this ruling means all the unallotments will be overturned, or just one relatively small provision pertaining to a nutritional program. It could be a rather long summer here in St. Paul if we are called back for a special session to completely re-work last year's budget. The majority hasn't even finished resolving our current $1 billion shortfall.
As for legislation pertaining to the stadium itself, a House committee voted 10-9 against a Vikings stadium bill this morning. The vote means the bill will not be sent on to other committees at this time, but that could change.
The bill the committee voted against this morning provided a financing package to build a fixed-roof Vikings stadium at a cost of approximately $800 million. The funding was to be generated by applying existing Minneapolis Convention Center levy payments to the stadium once the convention center is paid off 10 years from now; the Vikings would make the payments until then. Proposals to tax car rentals, hotels, and sports memorabilia in the seven-county metro area were removed from the bill yesterday.
One thing which compromised support of the levy-transfer plan is Minneapolis is very protective of its convention center. The city sees this as a loss of ongoing support for the convention center in terms of upkeep and capital improvements.
Lester Bagley, vice-president of the Vikings, testified that the team is at the bottom of the National Football League in terms of revenue. He tap-danced around the question of whether we must act this year in order to prevent the Vikings from relocating to a different state.
We have less than two weeks remaining in the session, so stadium proponents will be battling the clock if they hope to get something done this session. The Supreme Court ruling could make finding a stadium solution this session even less likely.