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Vikings stadium bill delayed again

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ST. PAUL -- Discussion about Minnesota's budget trumped introduction of a Vikings football stadium bill.

A Wednesday night television report indicated a bill has been written, but Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said the report was based on an earlier version that he and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, are preparing.

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Lanning refused to talk about specifics in a bill that he now says will be introduced no earlier than Monday.

"I cannot say when the bill is going to be dropped," he said, adding that he knows it has to be soon. "We have to get this ball rolling."

Lanning said it was more important to debate budget bills this week than to take up a stadium bill. He also said that he needed to find cosponsors before the bill introduction.

He 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. "I'm quite sure it was an earlier version.

KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities reported that the House and Senate are expected to introduce identical bills next week laying out various terms for the deal, which also would require the Minnesota Vikings to pay at least one-third of the cost of the stadium and pay any cost overruns.

The report indicated that the state will cap its contribution at between $250 million and $300 million for a stadium, with none of that coming from state tax revenues. The stadium partially would be financed with taxes on sports memorabilia and luxury box sales, a player income surcharge and proceeds from a Vikings lottery game.

KSTP reported that the bill calls for local governments to bid on being the team's local partner that will pay up to one-third of the cost of the stadium through sales taxes. Hennepin County and Minneapolis can use excess revenue from Target Field and convention center taxes.

Racino, which has long been discussed as one potential source of funds for a Vikings stadium, is not currently included in the funding package, although that has not been ruled out. Legislative proposals call for adding slot machines to horse-race tracks in Minnesota, known as a racino.

Lanning and Rosen have been promising a bill for months, but have been tight-lipped about details. Gov. Mark Dayton is on board with getting a stadium built, but says he will not offer a proposal.

Dayton said this week that approving a stadium would put several thousand people to work.

The Vikings' Metrodome lease runs out after next season and team owners do not plan to renew it.

Andrew Tellijohn is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

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