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Vikings stadium: Fall session in doubt

Last week, Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf continued to express optimism that his latest stadium proposal will be approved during a special fall session of the Minnesota state legislature.

One of his most ardent legislative supporters isn't so sure.

In a story published Sunday in the Star Tribune, state Rep. Morrie Lanning said a special session remains "a possibility" but added: "It's not the likely scenario." Lanning, one of two chief authors of a bill to authorize the $1.057 billion project, said he has "prepared the Vikings for the possibility" that legislators won't consider the bill until January 2012.

The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome expires on Feb. 1, 2012.

As we discussed last week, the bill will no doubt face some opposition from ardent legislators who just backed down Gov. Mark Dayton from raising any taxes in his state budget. The last financing plan we saw called for $650 million in public money, generated by user fees and a half-cent rise in Ramsey County's sales tax. Lanning said he doesn't see the point of a special session unless there is a "reasonable expectation" that the bill will pass.

There also appears to be a difference of opinion on the extent of pre-construction environmental work necessary on the site in Arden Hills, Minn., where the U.S. Army once operated a munitions factory. Ted Mondale, Dayton's stadium point man who is conducting a fast-track review of the proposal, told the Star Tribune that a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be conducted.

Historically, similar studies have taken a year or more to complete.

The Vikings are pushing Dayton to call a special session for several reasons, including the fact that the issue wouldn't get buried by other state business. Without a special session, the Vikings will technically become franchise free agents. They have said they won't sign an extension of their Metrodome lease until a new stadium is approved, setting up a potential showdown next winter if no special session is called.