Revised racino bill funds Vikings stadium

By Jason Hoppin
Updated: April 9, 2010

MINNESOTA — Hoping to make legislative headway, supporters of adding slot machines to Shakopee’s Canterbury Park have tweaked a bill in a way that could provide enough money to fully fund a proposed Vikings stadium.

Former Sen. Dick Day, a longtime legislative advocate turned lobbyist for a so-called racino, made the announcement Thursday after an unexpected move to push the original idea forward in a House committee failed.

The latest version of the legislation, which has floated around the Capitol in some form for a dozen years, eliminates a proposal for new slot machines at Running Aces, the state’s other horseracing track. Instead, it adds 2,500 machines to Canterbury Park, which Day said would generate more than $100 million annually for the state.

“No cost to anybody except people who go to Canterbury Park to gamble,” Day said.

The original proposal split the revenues into four equal pools, including a recreational fund, which could be used to help build a new Vikings stadium. The new version puts 40 percent of the money — or about $40 million annually — into that fund.

Estimates for a new stadium range as high as $870 million, and Vikings officials say their request for a public subsidy could range from $29 million to $42 million a year over the 30-year life of the bonds needed to build the facility.

The team’s Metrodome lease expires after the 2011 season, and Vikings officials have said they would not sign a new lease without a deal in place for a new stadium.

Day said other ideas, which include a mix of memorabilia, hospitality and other taxes, aren’t going anywhere because Gov. Tim Pawlenty would quickly veto them. Democratic leadership in the House and Senate said the racino bill has no support at the Capitol.

The change proposed by Day is not expected to shift the position of Minnesota’s powerful tribal gambling lobby, which represents Native American tribes that run the state’s 18 tribal casinos and oppose the expansion of slot machines.

Canterbury Park and Running Aces allow betting on card games and horse racing.