Not so fast: Minneapolis City Council expects its own inspection of the stadium bill

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May 7, 2012 // UPDATED 12:36 pm - May 9, 2012
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
As a stadium bill moves forward in the Minnesota Legislature, Vikings fans shouldn’t start planning to blow their horns and sing “Skol Vikings” just yet. The Minneapolis City Council still has to approve the deal, and at least one council member says that process should take until at least May 25.

“We’re talking $600 to $800 million dollars of Minneapolis tax money being spent, so it needs to go through the regular council process because of the size of the expenditure,” said Gary Schiff (Ward 9), a leading opponent of the bill.

He says the bill should go to the Ways and Means/Budget Committee for a public hearing. That committee is scheduled to meet May 21 and is headed by Betsy Hodges (Ward 13), another opponent of the plan.

The City Council meets on Friday, and isn’t scheduled to meet again until May 25. The Council runs in two-week cycles.

Schiff says the city won’t be able to amend the deal, because the Legislature won’t be able to come back into session to approve a different bill.

“We’ve been presented a take-it-or-leave-it bill, and the City Council has never been allowed to amend the bill,” said Schiff, noting that the Senate on Tuesday night added user fees that will reduce the state’s share of the cost, but not the city’s.

A request for comment from Council President Barb Johnson has not been returned. Mayor R.T. Rybak’s spokesman said the Council will have to approve the stadium deal, but referred questions on the process to Johnson’s office.

Schiff said the process should be hurried.

“For a $675 million expenditure, I hope nobody skirts any process,” he said. “I hope Ways and Means gets to look at it thoroughly.”

While the stadium bakers say the total contribution from the city will be $339 million, Schiff and others add interest to the calculations and say the deal will wind up costing over $600 million.

It’s worth noting that the City Council if off the week following May 25 (May 28 to June 1).