The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said last week that it expects to break ground on a new $975 million professional football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in downtown Minneapolis next October.

The authority was established under state legislation to oversee development of the stadium. The legislative package authorizes the issuance of up to $498 million of state appropriation bonds. The state would repay its $348 million share of the costs for the project with new revenue from expanded gambling, including electronic pull-tab gaming and bingo.

The 65,000-seat stadium is to be built adjacent to the 30-year-old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, open in time for the 2016 NFL season. The authority has launched a bid solicitation process to pick a construction management firm with bids due Jan. 8.

The state borrowing expected next year would cover both its share and the city of Minneapolis' $150 million contribution. The team will contribute $477 million.

Collections of revenues from expanded gambling so far have lagged original estimates, according to the state's general revenue forecast released last week. While the state would repay the bonds with the gaming revenues, the bonds would carry an appropriation pledge. "The forecast reduction reflects a slower than expected implementation of electronic gaming options and reduced estimates for daily revenue per gaming device. As a result, the stadium reserve balance is now expected to be $47 million by the end of 2017, $36 million lower than end-of-session estimates," the forecast said. The revenues are still expected to cover debt repayment.

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