May 7, 2012 at 6:37 am
ST. PAUL, MN (AP) - Lawmakers return Monday from a weekend respite with a showdown vote on the Minnesota Vikings stadium legislation looming. But first they plan to debate a bill financing other construction projects around the state.
The borrow-to-build proposal covers upgrades on college campuses, flood mitigation projects, fixes at state prisons and a down-payment on a pricey state Capitol renovation. The bill requires three-fifths majorities in both the House and Senate, making its fate unpredictable.
But the hot topic is a bill to expand charitable gambling to help pay for a proposed Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. The House planned to begin debate on that bill Monday with Senate action, if necessary, coming later this week.
The politics of the votes on the stadium issue are messy. Lawmakers are all over the map, with Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the issue.
Supporters worry that failure to act this year could mean losing the state's most beloved sports franchise. That's balanced by opponents of public spending on the stadium, including some lawmakers who think concern that the Vikings will leave is overblown.
Many lawmakers are undecided or aren't revealing their positions.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley wouldn't predict the outcome, saying only that the stadium is "within striking distance."
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