I gave in at about 11:30 p.m. ET on the Minnesota Vikings' stadium bill deliberations. As it turns out, the Minnesota state Senate approved a version of the bill at about 1 a.m. ET after about 11 hours of debate. Here are accounts from the Associated Press, Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press.
While there are several important steps remaining, this vote puts the Vikings on the verge of concluding a decade-long drive to replace the Metrodome. I'll save all of the grand conclusions and analysis until the process is complete, but it would be surprising to see the stadium bill break down at this point. Both houses of the state legislature are now on record supporting it, and we already know that Gov. Mark Dayton is ready to sign a bill. Only a bit of sausage-making remains.
Let's quickly address where the process goes from here.
The Senate version of the bill and the House of Representatives' version will be sent to a conference committee, as early as Wednesday, to reconcile significant differences in the language. This is not unusual in terms of lawmaking.
The most contentious difference, and one in which the Vikings likely will exert some lobbying influence, is how much the team must pay toward the $975 million project. The original bill called for $427 million. The House raised it to $532 million and the Senate to $452 million. Common ground must be reached to move on.
The Senate added a set of user fees to augment the original funding sources, and those fees are probably one of the reasons the bill passed the Senate. According to the Star Tribune, the fees include: "a 10 percent fee on the sale or rental of stadium suites, a 10 percent fee on parking within a half mile of the stadium during NFL events and a 6.875 percent fee on team jerseys and other league-licensed products sold at the stadium." The Vikings are opposed to user fees because they cut into team revenue they would otherwise receive on sales of those items.
Assuming the conference committee agrees on one unified bill, it will be sent back to both houses for a vote.
If approved in both houses, the bill will be sent to Dayton for his signature.
My understanding is that all of this must happen in the next two working days of the legislature. By law, the legislative session can't extend beyond 120 days and Tuesday was day No. 118. As the world turns ...