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UPDATE: Vikings stadium bill would fund $300 million

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By Andrew Tellijohn

Forum Communications

ST. PAUL - New sports-related taxes and other revenues would fund up to $300 million of a new Vikings football stadium in bills expected to be introduced soon.

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The money would be raised through a collection of sources likely to include new taxes on sports memorabilia and luxury box sales, a player income tax surcharge and proceeds from a Vikings lottery game, said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the likely author of the Senate bill.

Rosen said the language of the bill is close to ready but bill authors are waiting, in part, because they want to finish dealing with state budget bills.

"We are going to be sensitive about getting these budget bills out and then we will bring the bill forward," she said.

Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, have been promising stadium bills for months but have been delayed.

Neither was happy that KSTP-TV obtained a summary of the bill.

Lanning told Forum Communications on Tuesday that the stadium bill would be released this week, but acknowledged Thursday that it now would come no earlier than the beginning of next week.

Lanning declined to discuss specific funding sources that KSTP reported Wednesday night. He said the report likely was based on an earlier version of the bill and expressed disappointment that details of the bill had leaked publicly.

"We think it is very important to have our act together, our ducks in a row, before we go release this publicly," Lanning said, adding that he is working to find co-sponsors for the bills.

KSTP in the Twin Cities reported that the bills would require the Vikings to pay at least one-third of the cost of a new stadium along with any cost overruns. The report indicated the bills will have local governments bid on being the team's local partner and would require them to pay up to one-third of the cost of the stadium through sales taxes.

There also is discussion that a racino could provide stadium funding. Legislators have proposals calling for slot machines at horse-race tracks, called racinos, but that currently is not a part of the stadium funding, Rosen said.

One likely co-author, Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, said he likes the memorabilia tax because it is completely voluntary. Fans willing to pay upward of $200 for a replica jersey probably will not mind the tax if proceeds go toward a stadium.

Former lawmaker Charlie Weaver, executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, said details often change before bills are introduced, but added the framework of what was reported could work for the business community.

"At the end of the day our goal is to get the stadium built but not make Minnesota a less competitive place to grow jobs," Weaver said.

Andrew Tellijohn is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

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