Their goal finally in sight, the Minnesota Vikings summoned star power Wednesday to put extra pressure on state lawmakers who are nearing decisive votes on public financing for a new professional football stadium.
Running back Adrian Peterson, linebacker Chad Greenway and center John Sullivan lent aid to a Vikings lobbying team of nine, which is counting heads for an expected House vote as soon as Thursday and guiding the bid for a nearly $1 billion stadium through its final Senate committees.
In a 30-minute visit, the players chatted with legislators and posed for pictures with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
"It's a team effort. We're just showing our support," Peterson said. "Legislators, those guys are really pushing to pass this bill. They have tough decisions to make and discussions to have. We're just here to let these guys know that we support them."
Not everyone was impressed.
"This is so disgusting I can't stand it," said Rep. Alice Hausman as the players moved through the building's main doors, TV cameras surrounding them.
Meanwhile, the stadium bill continued to move closer to expected House and Senate floor votes. It survived the Senate's Finance Committee on a vote of 9-5, but not without complications.
The committee reshaped the proposal, adding an amendment to include state authorization of casinos at two Minnesota horse-racing tracks. That proposal is a controversial issue at Minnesota's Capitol, and sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen said linking it to the stadium could hurt her bill's progress.
Rosen said she'd attempt to remove the racetrack casinos from the stadium bill when it comes before the Senate Taxes Committee in a scheduled Thursday hearing. If the bill survives there, the full Senate would have a chance for an up-or-down vote.
The House version of the stadium bill has cleared the committee process and awaits a not-yet-scheduled floor vote. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen predicted passage.
Prior to giving their assent, the Senate Finance Committee dedicated hours of scrutiny to the state's proposed contribution of roughly $400 million contribution, as well as the public bonds that would be sold to enable construction of a stadium on downtown Minneapolis land that now houses the Metrodome.
A diverted sales tax would generate the city's contribution, the Vikings would be required to round up the remaining $427 million privately, and an expansion of lawful gambling at bars and veterans halls would be the primary revenue source for the state share.
State Sen. Scott Dibble reportedly wrote to the Vikings on Wednesday requesting that the team provide the Senate all the financial information previously disclosed to Dayton.
ProFootballTalk.com reported that Dibble requested an audited balance sheet, purchase price of the team, value of the team, debt and information regarding league-wide revenue sources that are expected to increase or decrease in the next two years, along with the sources of the teamâs proposed contribution to the stadium plan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.