ST. PAUL (AP) -- It'll take a late-inning rally in the Minnesota House if the bid for a new state-supported Twins stadium is to remain alive this session.
Facing a Wednesday deadline for approving bills, members of the House Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs Committee munched Cracker Jack and grilled supporters of the stadium plan for two hours Monday, but postponed action until later this week.
The committee heard only from supporters of the proposal for a $300 million, 42,000-seat ballpark. Still, it was clear from questions that several lawmakers are skeptical.
"It's very close," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Harry Mares, said without disclosing his headcount of committee members.
Said Twins President Jerry Bell: "It's a struggle in the House."
Under the bill by Mares, R-White Bear Lake, $150 million would be paid up front by Twins owner Carl Pohlad and private donors, the state would offer a $140 million interest-free loan to be repaid over 30 years and $10 million would come from a sales-tax exemption on construction supplies.
The Twins would be responsible for $290 million, or 96 percent, of the stadium's cost. Mares said the average team and private share of recently built stadiums is 37 percent.
The Senate version calls for a $100 million loan, the construction supplies exemption and a $40 million grant to a host city that would come from payments the Wild hockey team will make on a loan for its arena. Those payments are now slated to go to youth sports needs, and Mares said he was uncomfortable raiding that account.
Both bills would draw the loan from a surplus in a workers compensation fund, which House Republican leaders have eyed for other uses. Both also would require the Twins to guarantee the loan's repayment and neither would allow construction to begin unless Major League Baseball makes wholesale changes to its salary and revenue structure.
"This bill should stand on its own merits," Mares said. "It should not be compared to anything in the past."
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