- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Senate lawmakers left no room for debate on Monday: There should be no state money for a new professional soccer stadium.

As the ownership group behind a new Major League Soccer franchise makes rounds at the Legislature, Minnesota’s Senate overwhelmingly voted 61-4 to ban any state funds from being used to build a new Major League Soccer stadium. The ban, added to a budget bill that funds state agencies, also bars the state from taking on any debt to finance a stadium.

It’s unclear whether that ban would nix Minnesota United’s request for a sales tax exemption on construction materials - worth an estimated $3 million - or any deals with county or city officials team owners are lobbying. But it heads off any possibility of a broader subsidy, such as the roughly $500 million public price for the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium.

Sen. Brandon Petersen, R-Andover, led the charge on the ban. He said too many big-money deals for professional sports teams and other powerful groups have been hammered out behind closed doors.

“We have a bad habit of getting these things done in a terrible manner that isn’t transparent,” he said. “I’m kind of tired of billionaire hucksters walking into the Capitol thinking that they can exploit the public resources for their own benefit.”

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