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New Vikings stadium a near certainty

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By PFW staff

The Minnesota Senate voted 36-30 on Thursday in favor of a new stadium for the Vikings. The last step before it becomes law is a signature from Gov. Mark Dayton, who has been a supporter of the bill.

The $975 million plan was passed in the House late Monday evening. For a decade, the team and owner Zygi Wilf have tried to get a new stadium. The team’s lease in the Metrodome ends after the 2012 season.

The team will pay 49 percent of construction costs, or $477 million. That was a compromise between the $532 million required under the bill that the House passed on Monday and the $452 million that was called for under the Senate bill that passed Tuesday. The Vikings had committed $427 million to the project under the original proposal. The state's cost is $348 million, and the city of Minneapolis will have to contribute $150 million.

“It’s a heavy lift, but it is the right thing to do for Minnesota,” team spokesman Lester Bagley said after the House vote.

The Vikings will sign a 30-year lease on the stadium, to be built on the site of the Metrodome. The team will pay $13 million annually in operating fees, but a public authority would have the right to rent out the stadium on non-game days for other events, such as concerts and conventions. In addition, the Wilfs were given exclusive rights to recruit a professional soccer team to Minnesota.

The team is expected to take advantage of an NFL loan program for building new stadiums, as well as selling the naming rights to the new stadium and possibly even charging for personal seat licenses to help finance the construction costs.

The Vikings have the option of upgrading to a retractable roof at their expense, but Bagley said the Vikings hadn't made a decision about that.

The state's share of the cost is to be financed by an expansion in gambling, which some legislators opposed, and some lawmakers claimed that the revenue projections from the gambling expansion are unlikely to be realized.

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