Minnesota governor OKs football stadium bill

Mon May 14, 2012 5:49pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill on Monday authorizing a partly bond-financed plan for a $975 million stadium for the National Football League's Minnesota Vikings.

The measure calls for the issuance of up to $498 million of bonds by Minnesota with the state responsible for paying off $348 million, while Minneapolis will pay off $150 million. The bonds will be subject to biennial appropriation by the legislature, according to John Pollard, a spokesman for the state's management and budget department.

Minnesota's part of the financing plan would be paid off with revenue from new electronic bingo games that are expected to raise about $47 million annually, he said. If revenue falls short of that target, revenue from a new lottery game and a 10 percent tax on luxury suites at the stadium would be tapped, he added.

Minneapolis' share of the costs would be covered by extending taxes on hotels, liquor and restaurants that now apply to the Minneapolis convention center.

The Vikings agreed to kick in $477 million, up from the $427 million the team had agreed to provide under a deal announced in March with the state and the city of Minneapolis.

The Vikings have played at the Metrodome since 1982 and began lobbying for a new stadium more than a decade ago, before owner Zygi Wilf bought the team in 2005.

Talks intensified as the 30-year Metrodome lease neared an end and the stadium's inflatable roof collapsed in a 2010 blizzard, forcing the Vikings to play two home games elsewhere.

The planned 65,000-seat stadium would have 150 corporate suites and 7,500 club seats, adding to the Vikings revenue.

The Vikings would be the main tenant, but the publicly-owned stadium would also host other events including state high school football and soccer championships, amateur sports and concerts.

On Friday, Dayton signed into law a slimmed-down bond bill to fund projects throughout the state mainly with general obligation bonds.

The $597 million bill authorizes the sale of $496.5 million of GO bonds and $100 million of other bonds, according to his spokesman.

The Democratic governor, who had recommended $775 million of bonds, said the final bill approved by the Republican-controlled legislature was not as big as he had hoped.

The measure includes funding for state colleges and universities, transportation, corrections, housing and environmental projects.

Pollard said plans for selling the stadium and other bonds have yet to be determined.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog, additional reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Gary Crosse)

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