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Published May 09 2012

Forum editorial: A Vikings deal close as ever

It’s been nothing less than high drama and backstage machinations in St. Paul this week, but it appears – appears – the Minnesota Legislature is as close as it’s ever been to finalizing a plan to build a new Vikings football stadium. The Senate debated for 11 hours Tuesday before approving its version of the package. The House OK’d its bill Monday. Now the two bills must be harmonized in conference committee before going to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.

In an ideal world, that’s the way it will happen. But as the decade-long argument over how to fund a new home for the region’s NFL team has shown, it’s still possible the deal will be derailed. The 2012 debate revealed divisions among lawmakers that, in some respects, have been papered over, or, in kinder terms, sacrificed in the spirit of compromise.

An often-heated Senate debate melted away a blizzard of amendments, but the final bill includes provisions that might not sit well with House members on the conference committee. Among them are differences in levying user fees, assessments on suites, the lottery’s involvement and the size of the Vikings contribution, to name a few. None alone is insurmountable but taken together might create a wall too high for some lawmakers to clear.

Despite the silliness of some Vikings fans during demonstrations at the Capitol (alleged grownups), legislators, team officials and the governor concentrated on the task at hand. Even as they found common ground on a complicated and sometimes controversial bonding bill, they were still able to give the Vikings matter the attention it demanded. (By the way, the bonding bill passed, too.)

Again, the stadium plan is not a done deal, but it is close. There is still time for a focused cabal of anti-stadium lawmakers to scuttle it. There is no sure telling of what would happen if they do, but one result could be pushing the Vikings into the open arms of California’s City of Angels.

Right now, however, Minnesota has a reasonable bipartisan compromise plan for a stadium that will keep the team in the Twin Cities for many years to come. Let’s hammer out the details, get it done and move on to other things.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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