Dayton said Monday he will call the session by Nov. 21 and conclude it by Nov. 23, provided there is enough progress in negotiations to give the bill a reasonable chance to pass. That gives a polarized set of state leaders about five weeks to assess the Vikings' proposal, including its site (currently in suburban Arden Hills) and required public contribution (currently about $650 million).
Much work remains. Monday marked the first formal meeting between Dayton and Republican leaders who hold the majority in both houses of the Minnesota legislature. Those leaders turned back all of Dayton's new tax proposals in the state's most recent budget, so Dayton has his work cut out for him.
But at the very least, the Vikings should be pleased Monday evening. The ball is continuing to move down the field, and at this point, anything short of "no" is good news. For the first time, it's possible to envision a specific path toward approval: Five intense weeks of negotiations followed by a pre-Thanksgiving 2011 vote.
No one knows whether that will happen, and Monday's announcement could ultimately be an exercise in shifting political responsibility from the governor's office to his Republican counterparts. Perhaps this work in the fall will merely set the table for a vote in the regular 2012 spring session. Regardless, if you're a stadium proponent, a potential date for a special session is better than none at all.