Business and labor leaders put political muscle behind a new Minnesota Vikings stadium Tuesday, their support helping build what one lawmaker described as a growing "air of inevitability" as the project neared a final vote.
In passing through a second Senate panel, the stadium plan continued an extraordinary political march at the Legislature after being left for dead barely a week ago. In both the House and Senate, the stadium's public subsidy package seemed headed for a vote this week, although either a razor-thin victory or a crushing defeat remained possible.
"It feels like a first down, [and] another first down -- got a good drive going here," said Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, who chairs the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, where the proposal passed on a unanimous voice vote Tuesday. "I think, after a while, it starts to take on a little bit of momentum and an air of inevitability," Michel said.
Don't you worry your pretty little heads about how this thing is going to get paid for -- the unicorns are on the march! More important, it's becoming a garbage scow with all manner of other goodies piled on:
There were however other sweeteners added Tuesday for St. Paul, mostly in an effort to entice legislators from St. Paul to back building the stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
The legislation now includes a provision to spend $1.3 million annually for 20 years that can be used for, among other things, a new downtown ballpark for the St. Paul Saints.
Metzen's move created some tension, which could be seen Tuesday as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak had an animated conversation with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman in the back of the hearing room.
"We do believe that there absolutely has to be parity," Coleman told the panel.
I suppose if we're going to spend, spend, spend, we might as well throw Coleman a bone and give him "My First Stadium - By Kenner!" too. Metzen, by the way, is James Metzen, a DFLer from South St. Paul, who would also like to add $43 million more to pay for debt relief for the RiverCentre and Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Meanwhile, Michel eloquently sums up the current feeding frenzy and gives an object lesson regarding what happens when you spend too much time in the legislature:
"We don't have an ocean," said Michel, who added that to many outsiders, Minnesota merely represents "flyover" country. "We need some things, [and] this is part of our stuff."We're getting stuffed, all right. If Michel wants to be honest about things, I would suggest that the lege work with the Vikings to give the corporate naming rights for this new stadium to Vaseline.