Oakdale’s representatives at the Minnesota State Capitol both voted in support of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
The stadium bill passed through the House and Senate Thursday, and was awaiting the governor’s signature Thursday afternoon.
Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood) said the No. 1 reason she supported the bill was that it will create jobs.
“I think that it is going to bring a tremendous amount of construction jobs and we have a lot of people that are on our union benches not working,” she said.
Another reason for her support, she said, is that the Vikings add to the state’s quality of life.
“Having the Vikings is part of Minnesota’s culture,” she said. “I grew up where there were no major sports teams, and it makes a significant difference in the quality of life.”
Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) said he could support the bill because no general tax revenue goes to pay for the stadium—it's all user fees and gambling.
Late in the session, Slawik and Wiger that would put any excess money raised for the stadium through mechanisms like electronic pull-tabs toward scholarships for early childhood education.
A provision to put 20 percent of the excess funds toward preschool scholarships was included in the bill, but it was ultimately removed, along with similar provisions, in conference committee, Slawik said.
“They started calling the bill a Christmas tree, where it has lots of presents,” Slawik said, “and basically they stripped all of those to get the bill done.”
It could have been a “better deal,” with more time, she said, but in the end, the time pressure helped motivate everyone to get the bill passed.
“If this had gone on any longer, it may not have happened,” she said. “I think the time deadline, in this case, served us well.”
Wiger said he received more feedback on the Vikings stadium bill than any other piece of legislation he can remember. Correspondence came from all over the world he said, and he even received drawings from children.