MN Hospitality Advocate

Vikings Day at the Minnesota Legislature

Posted in Uncategorized by hospitalityminnesota on May 5, 2010

We began today with an early morning hearing on the Minnesota Vikings multi-purpose stadium before Chairman Rep. Gene Pelowski and the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee (known as Gov Ops). Last night, the stadium bill passed out of the Gov Ops Local Government Division, but with substantial changes.

The new taxes that were initially proposed to fund the stadium were removed from the bill, and an alternative version that captured revenue from existing Minneapolis taxes instead became the focus of the funding. The bill under consideration this morning takes entertainment, lodging and sales taxes that were first applied in Minneapolis to pay off the Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) bonds, which generate approximately $50 million per year, and shifts a portion of them to pay off football stadium bonds ten years from now, when the MCC debt is retired. For the first 10 years, the Minnesota Vikings contribution to the project would be used to pay the debt service.

The vote was close, but ultimately it failed in Gov Ops by a 10-9 vote. The bill thus remains in the Gov Ops Committee and it appears unlikely it will get another hearing this session. At the same time, a similiar bill was heard before the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee, chaired by Senator Ann Rest.

John Luke, General Manager of the Hilton Hotel Minneapolis, was among those to testify in support of the bill on behalf  of Hospitality Minnesota and its three Associations. The City of Minneapolis expressed concerns with the bill, as it has designs on the funds that will become available once the MCC bonds are retired. The city would like to use the money for convention center renovation, capital improvements, the Target Center and perhaps other projects.

With the stadium action over the past few days, it appears the issue will not be resolved this session. It will have to be resolved next session as the Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires and they will not re-sign there.

As these two hearings were being conducted, the Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a ruling regarding Governor Palwenty’s unallottment last year of $2.7 billion. The court ruled 4-3 that the Governor had overstepped his authority with regard to one particular unallotment, which calls into question the legality of the remaining unallottments. More in my next post.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota

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