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Update: Vikings stadium bill loses committee vote

ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota House committee this morning defeated a bill laying out plans for a Minnesota Vikings stadium.

The 10-9 vote in a state and local government committee came hours after the measure passed its initial test just after midnight. A Senate committee also was considering the plan late this morning.

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, voted for the bill and was disappointed in the outcome.

While the budget deficit has to be the main priority he said that now is the right time to discuss the stadium issue. Legislators can do more than one thing at a time "believe it or not."

Committee members were concerned because that while the bill was oriented at a Minneapolis stadium, officials there were, at best, cool to it.

The defeated bill was changed after Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he would not accept tax increases to fund a new stadium. The proposal's House author took out new taxes and decided to borrow money instead.

Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, also changed the bill so the new stadium was likely to be in Minneapolis, although other cities still would be eligible.

The proposal is to provide part of the funding for a $791 million stadium at an undetermined location. Originally, the bill called for increases taxes to bring in $527 million, but Solberg said that he decided to change funding to borrowed money after Pawlenty told reporters on Tuesday that he would reject the tax provisions.

The revised bill would require the team to provide money up front, then the Metropolitan Council would borrow money by selling bonds. A portion of an existing Minneapolis Convention Center tax would be used to help pay off the debt once the center's debt is retired in 2020.

A Minneapolis official said the Convention Center will need the funds after its deft is paid off because by then it will be 30 years old.

The Vikings' Metrodome lease expires after next season and team owners say they will not play in the dome after that.

Legislative leaders say they will not give a stadium plan special consideration as the 2010 legislative session winds down. Lawmakers must adjourn by May 17. And Pawlenty gives the proposal little chance.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.