Published April 03 2012
Forum editorial: Lanning’s ideas look promisingNo one has worked harder on a new Vikings stadium blueprint than Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead. The veteran legislator, former mayor and former Concordia College administrator has become the Legislature’s go-to guy when it comes to developing proposals, counterproposals and compromises designed to advance a package that will guarantee the NFL franchise stays in Minnesota. And although Lanning and his collaborators made major progress this week, there still is a way to go before an agreement is reached.
A House committee on Monday approved two bills, one by Lanning. Together, the bills comprise a
$1 billion plan for a new stadium in Minneapolis. Approval of the bills was a huge step, but not the final one. Legislation still faces hurdles, not the least of which is Gov. Mark Dayton’s concern that a portion of the bill might be unconstitutional. But the bills address the major money matters associated with a stadium initiative. Combined with what appears to be positive action by the Minneapolis City Council, the stadium is closer to happening than it has ever been.
That being said, smooth sailing might be too much to expect. As always, the devil is in the details. As always, bills of such importance must negotiate committees, the governor’s office, local governments and the court of public opinion. But Lanning’s and the companion bill by Rep. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove seem to address the knottiest problems. Among the particulars directly related to annual revenues if projected revenue from electronic gaming falls short:
- Increase the take from charitable gambling to $36 million.
- A 10 percent tax on luxury boxes and suites.
- A sports-themed lottery game.
- Admission surcharges on people attending games.
It’s a work in progress, but the overall aim seems to be to supplement new gaming revenue with dollars generated by individuals and businesses that will directly or indirectly benefit from a new stadium. That element in the package should satisfy those Minnesotans who believe not a dime of tax money should be used for building a stadium for the Vikings.
Lanning has devoted hundreds of hours of time and energy to the stadium matter. He and other key legislators, team officials, local government leaders and the governor’s office are as close as ever to getting it done. Close is not the same as closing the deal, but Minnesotans – especially those who understand the economic and intangible value of an NFL franchise to the state – should give Lanning and his colleagues a high-five.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.
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