The debate was drawn out, not to mention highly contentious, but when the dust settled in the wee hours of Thursday morning in St. Paul, the Minnesota Vikings had cleared yet another hurdle in their quest for a new stadium in Minneapolis.
Just after 3:30 AM Central time, the final vote was taken on the Vikings' stadium bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and the measure did wind up passing with a total of 71 "yes" votes and 60 "no" votes. That was just slightly closer than the initial vote on the bill on Monday night, which passed by a final margin of 73 to 58.
Earlier in the day, the bill was being worked on by a conference committee consisting of members of both houses of the Minnesota legislature. The conference committee was responsible for hammering out differences between the two bills, the biggest of which had to do with how much the Vikings would contribute to the project.
The Vikings said that they wanted to keep their contribution at the $427 million that had originally been negotiated. However, the bill that passed the House on Monday upped the team's contribution to a whopping $532 million, while the bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday increased it to $452 million. So, the state expected an increased contribution from the Vikings regardless of the scenario, and that's what happened. During the conference committee proceedings, the Vikings agreed to a final amount of $477 million, essentially splitting the difference between the two bills.
The bill now has just two more votes to get through before it becomes law. The major one will come on Thursday, the final day of the 2012 legislative session that lawmakers can actually vote on and pass things, when the Senate takes up the bill. The bill will be identical to the one that passed the House on Thursday morning, and no amendments will be able to be added to it. The earliest that the Senate will be able to vote on the bill will be approximately 1 PM Central time. . .though if the past few sessions have been any indication, there will be plenty of debate before that happens.
Should the bill clear the Senate, it will be signed by Governor Mark Dayton, and the final step will be the blessing of the Minneapolis City Council. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says he has the votes on the council to approve the measure, so that will hopefully prove to be less of a hurdle than anything the bill has encountered to this point.