Tuesday's late night vote on a new Vikings stadium proved to be a difficult decision for local Senators even as the $975 stadium deal inches closer to the goal line after passing both the Senate and House this week.
The Senate's 38-28 vote late Tuesday night included "yes" votes from three local Democrats, Senators Terri Bonoff (Minnetonka), Ron Latz (St. Louis Park) and Ann Rest (New Hope). Voting against the bill were Republican Senators Benjamin Kruse (Brooklyn Park) and Warren Limmer (Maple Grove) as well as Democrat Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center. Republican Senator Gen Olson of Minnetrista did not vote.
The Senate bill differs from the House version passed Monday night, specifically in the amount of money it asks the Vikings to contribute above and beyond the $427 million originally committed by the NFL franchise. The Senate version of the bill requests $25 million more from the team and includes user fees on stadium suites, parking and team sports memorabilia. The House version of the bill requests $105 million more from Vikings' owners.
The Senate's eleventh hour vote Tuesday night highlighted the inner struggle some local politicians faced with the decision to commit public taxpayer money to a private stadium deal.
Freshman Senator Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, voted "no" even though Eaton said there was overwhelming support for the stadium in her district. Eaton, who said she was "not excited" about the deal's expansion of gambling and opposed providing a public subsidy to a billionaire team owner, said she voted her conscience after she saw there were enough votes to pass the stadium.
"Once I saw that there were 34 votes, I was comfortable voting no," said Eaton.
Eaton was not alone. Another freshman Senator, Republican Benjamin Kruse of Brooklyn Park said he believed there was a way to create a stadium proposal that he could vote for, but this week's version was not it.
"I truly believe you will never find a more regressive tax than what you have here with this video gaming," said Kruse (R-Brooklyn Park).
If a conference committee of six legislators from both chambers can resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions of the stadium bill, both legislative houses will get a final vote on the issue. That could happen as early as Wednesday night.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
Wednesday, May 09, 2012