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Touchdown: Council approves Vikings stadium plan

The plan to construct a gleaming new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings cleared its final political hurdle Friday.

As expected, the Minneapolis City Council gave its approval to legislation for the $1 billion project. The 7-6 vote commits the city to dedicating $150 million in hotel and entertainment taxes to the stadium that will be built on the site of the current Metrodome.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will now appoint members of a new stadium authority and the plans to build will begin taking shape, Fox 9 says.

The Star Tribune has fun photos from after the vote.

MPR has some great pics, too, including one of Rybak drinking from a horn.

You can see die-hard fans celebrating in this WCCO video:

It was a long drive to the goal line for supporters of the stadium plan. The Legislature had approved public funding for a new stadium after contentious debate, and it was signed into law by Dayton on May 14.

In addition to the city’s $150 million contribution, the funding plan requires that the team pay $477 million, and Minnesota would use taxes from new electronic charitable gambling games to pay $348 million.

In final debate, an emotional Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy said many phone calls and messages on both sides of the issue urged her to show courage. She said courage means “sitting alone at 4 a.m. trying to make a decision that affects hundreds of thousands of people and knowing many of them will be mad at you.” She ultimately voted for the plan.

Council Member Diane Hofstede said the new stadium “will help us grow as a first-class city and attract even more business.”

Another supporter, Don Samuels, said, “The stadium will be built — with or without the participation of the city of Minneapolis.” He commended Mayor R.T. Rybak, Council President Barb Johnson and other supporters for negotiating on behalf of the city. He said it is “a dirty game and we’re going to get something out of it for our residents.” He said, “That is the hard work of politics.”

Samuels also said, “My bet is we will all be heroes one day.”

Council Member Gary Schiff, who voted against the plan, called it “corporate welfare.” He said he fears city residents will become cynical about government. He said the council ought to spend as much time on more important issues.

“We need a blitz on poverty,” he said.

Among the plan opponents, Council Member Cam Gordon referred to a controversy over whether committing funds to the stadium violates a city charter provision that limits the amount the city can commit to a pro sports facility.

“A narrow majority of the council decided it is OK to overrule the city charter,” Gordon said.

Plans call for the 65,000-seat stadium to be built in time for the 2016 season.

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April 17, 2014