Supporters of a bill for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium project, including Gov. Mark Dayton, spent the weekend engaged in a furious round of fourth quarter lobbying to save the plan and possibly the team's future in the state. The Minnesota House will vote on a $1 billion compromise plan, of which the state will pay roughly $400 million through gaming revenues.
Gov. Dayton and Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who led the NFL with 22 sacks last season, held a rally at the Mall of America on Saturday urging supporters to press their legislators to support the bill. On Monday, Vikings fans and others supporting the bill, including the state's labor unions and representatives of the business community, will rally on the capitol lawn. Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder will be on hand for that event.
Right now, Gov. Dayton believes the bill to be a few votes shy of passage, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That should make for one of the most watched floor debates in this year's legislative session, as supporters and opponents twist and turn to sway a handful of voters on the fence.
Behind the scenes, an unusual alliance of business and labor leaders have taken on a more direct lobbying effort. The Governor has also met with legislative leaders to press their support.
Complicating matters is a Republican tax bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed Friday. The tax bill could return, in some form, as part of a compromise to bring in Republican votes for the stadium bill which is the Governor's top priority for the end of this legislative session.
If the bill passes a House vote on Monday, it would then go the Senate for approval before landing on Gov. Dayton's desk for a signature.
The Vikings' lease on the Metrodome lapsed at the end of last season. The team will play there again in 2012, but is under no obligation to stay beyond that.