Gov. to push Arden Hills stadium site for Vikings

How the state raises its proposed $300 million share is one of the major remaining stumbling blocks for stadium backers. Opposition to more gambling is strong in the Legislature, and even a stadium backer like state Sen. John Harrington said he’d have trouble supporting it.

“It really has a negative impact on a lot of people,” said Harrington, a St. Paul Democrat. Proposals to expand gambling are certain to draw vehement opposition from both the state’s American Indian tribes and social conservative advocacy groups.

Harrington said he’d prefer a suggestion first floated by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, a small hike in the state sales tax on liquor sales. But Republican legislative leaders have already drawn a firm line against any state tax increases to help the Vikings.

One more stumbling block is strong opposition among some in Ramsey County to the proposed half-cent county sales tax increase to pay for the local portion of the project. A group of residents is already organizing a petition drive to force a public referendum if the tax is raised, though state lawmakers could overrule a public vote. There, too, stadium backers could meet resistance from Republican legislative leaders, with both House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch on record favoring a referendum.

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