CHICAGO — Two Minnesota lawmakers plan to introduce legislation next week that would delay any state bond issuance for the new $975 million Minnesota Vikings professional football stadium until a stable revenue source is in place that can support repayment.
State legislation allows for the issuance of up to $500 million of appropriation-backed bonds to finance the state's $350 million share of the stadium costs and Minneapolis' $150 million share. The state intends to repay its piece with revenues expected from an expansion of charitable gambling. Officials have said no sale is expected before August.
Lawmakers have expressed concerns about the dramatic shortfall in near-term projections of revenues from expanded gaming and worry that as a result the state general fund could wind up on the hook for $34 million in annual debt repayment.
The proposed bill would delay any bond sale until a "proven revenue source is determined," read a statement from state Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, who will sponsor the legislation with state Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria.
"Are we really going to build a sports stadium and take money from education, health care and maintaining roads," Nienow said in a statement. "When the stadium bill was debated I said the E-pull tax revenue source was based on 'fairies and fufu dust.' It appears I have been proven correct."
The state last year launched the electronic pull-tab games and the gaming commission last month approved new electronic bingo around the state. The state collects and keeps taxes on the gambling profits - which go to charities. Additional revenue is also expected as the number of bars that offer the electronic pull-tabs expands.
The team is contributing $477 million towards the project. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority hopes to break ground later this year on the new stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The 65,000-seat stadium is to be built adjacent to the 30-year-old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and open in time for the 2016 NFL season.
The city will make annual payments to Minnesota beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2046 to retire its share of the state debt. The city will use revenues from various hospitality and sales taxes that now go to repay its convention center debt.