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Brian Bakst, Published October 10 2013

Gun clause in Minnesota Vikings lease irks lawmaker

ST. PAUL – A gun clause in the new Minnesota Vikings stadium lease prompted questions Thursday from a state lawmaker and a scramble by the building’s landlord to explain the reasons for adding it.

The lease for the planned stadium was adopted last week, but the gun provision didn’t receive attention until The Associated Press reported on it this week.

At issue is a clause that bars the team and the authority from holding events or using the stadium property “for any gun shop or other store whose primary business is the sale of guns or other weapons.”

The provision also bars events staged around erotic materials and drug paraphernalia.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said in a letter that the restriction could discourage hunting and outdoors groups from scheduling offseason events at the $975 million stadium, which is being built with a partial public subsidy.

“The People’s Stadium should not, under any circumstances, arbitrarily prohibit these types of events from taking place if they comply with other stadium rules and regulations, as well as federal, state and local laws,” Garofalo wrote to authority members. “Outdoor trade shows and events bring in folks from across the state to Minneapolis, and it would be a shame if this incredible new facility were to shut them out.”

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said the intention was to make sure new retail stores within the stadium were gun-free. Hunting expos, where groups and vendors show off the latest gear, would be considered on a case-by-case basis, she said.

“We did not intend to make a policy one way or another to allow it or restrict it,” she said.

Under existing policy, fans aren’t allowed to bring guns into NFL stadiums on game days.

Outdoors shows haven’t been held regularly at the Metrodome, where the Vikings now play. Bill Lester, the former executive director of the Metrodome’s operating body, said prior leases didn’t have a clause with gun restrictions.

“As far as I recall, there was not a demand for it or a move to prohibit it,” Lester said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.