ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins moved a step closer Monday to getting a new stadium, while the Minnesota Vikings received an unexpectedly strong rebuke to their stadium dream.
Both the Vikings and Twins want new stadiums because the Metrodome doesn't generate enough revenue to make the teams profitable.
But with baseball owners threatening to close the Twins without a new stadium, its future has become a bigger priority in the Legislature.
Vikings officials and their legislative supporters vowed to press on after the 15-5 vote in the House Governmental Operations and Veterans Affairs Committee. The stadium would cost as much as $500 million. Vikings owner Red McCombs and the NFL would put up a combined $150 million.
"Obviously we're disappointed," said Mike Kelly, the Vikings' executive vice president. "This isn't the end of the world for this legislative session," he said.
Both the Vikings and the Twins say they need new stadiums because the Metrodome does not generate enough revenues to make the teams profitable. The Twins are in the final year of their lease, but the Vikings are signed through 2011.
Late Monday evening, the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee approved two proposals on voice votes for a new Twins stadium, both of which would relocate the team to St. Paul.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the Hennepin County board, Mike Opat, will ask other commissioners to approve offering the Legislature a proposal for a $370 million Twins stadium to be built in Minneapolis.
The Vikings bill calls for a package of new or increased fees tied to the stadium or sports in general, including a 6.5 percent tax on NFL and collegiate memorabilia and clothing sold in Minnesota.
Other debt would be erased using player income taxes, a fee on media that broadcast from the stadium and proceeds from a football-themed lottery.
"We'll have to reassess," said Rep. Kevin Goodno, R-Moorhead, the bill's sponsor. "This is just one bump in the road."
Kelly said the Vikings would try to address some of the House committee's concerns in a bill they plan to put before the Senate. But, he said, "there's growing impatience" on McCombs' part, and that it would be "a big disappointment" if the Twins got a new stadium and the Vikings didn't.
University officials said the proposal satisfied most of their concerns, but mentioned a couple of sticking points. They said they wanted a retractable roof, instead of a fixed roof as currently proposed, because open-air stadiums are preferable for Big Ten football.
They also said the proposal, as written, didn't give the university a big enough role in governing the stadium. And it would require the university to build a new parking ramp that might not get enough use on non-game days.
Goodno said he brought the bill up now because it would take about five years to get a stadium built and running. He also said the money currently available from the NFL and the Vikings might not be available in the future.
"Things will only get worse for the Vikings as they remain in the Metrodome," he said. He said declining profitability might make the Vikings less willing to put up the $100 million they'd be expected to contribute. The NFL is ready to contribute $51.5 million, but that offer expires in March 2003.
On the Twins front, the committee kept St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly's plan moving. The bill, sponsored by DFL Rep. Tom Osthoff, would permit Minnesota's capital city to impose an additional 3 percent tax on bars and restaurants and a ticket surcharge of $1 or more.
The tax proceeds would be pooled with contributions from the private sector and the Twins owner to repay state-issued bonds for a $300 million to $350 million open-air ballpark.
For now, the new taxes wouldn't be subject to a citywide referendum, although Gov. Jesse Ventura wants voters to have a say and some lawmakers said they would try to change the bill in later committees to get the issue on the ballot.
A separate bill, sponsored by DFL Rep. Michael Paymar, also moved on. It calls for a 35,000- to 38,000-seat ballpark. The plan contains some of the revenue-raisers the Vikings proposed in addition to money collected from a baseball park district surrounding it. Owners of housing and retail space in the stadium village would have to pay a membership fee, which would be used to retire debt.
Minneapolis is expected to come forward soon with a stadium plan. Senate hearings on a Twins stadium are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday.
Ashley H. Grant may be reached at agrant(at)ap.org
On the Net:
House File 3423 may be found at http://www.leg.state.mn.us
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