May 10, 2012 at 6:29 am
ST. PAUL, MN (AP) - A fast-moving Minnesota Vikings stadium bill is just a successful state Senate vote away from reaching the desk of a supportive Gov. Mark Dayton.
The Minnesota House voted 71-60 early Thursday on a reworked $975 million stadium bill. Passage came within hours of the Vikings signing off on a proposal requiring them to pay $50 million more than franchise owners had previously agreed to.
The deal puts the team and its private partners on the hook for $477 million. The public would pay $498 million through and expansion of legalized gambling and a redirected sales tax now collected in Minneapolis.
Though the package was tougher, it was clearly the team's only chance to replace the Metrodome, a 30-year-old facility the Vikings say has outlived its usefulness.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley says the team's billionaire owners, New Jersey developers Zygi and Mark Wilf, decided to lock in the deal rather than hold out for better terms, knowing the Legislature had only two days left to act. Bagley says it's ''heavy lifting,'' but the right thing to do for Minnesota.
Only a Senate vote stands between the franchise and the $975 million stadium the Vikings would move into ahead of the 2016 season.
The Senate is due to vote Thursday afternoon.
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