The Minneapolis City Council has given preliminary approval to a plan to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, one of the final procedural steps for the $975 million project.
A council committee voted 7-6 for the plan on Thursday. The city would redirect a hospitality tax to pay its $150 million share of construction costs, and the new stadium would go where the Metrodome, the Vikings' current home, sits.
Thursday's vote amounted to a key test because the committee includes all council members. A final vote is planned Friday.
Opponents say using the sales tax money is a bad deal for city residents. But Mayor R.T. Rybak lined up a majority on the council by arguing that the Vikings were a key asset and the stadium would generate an estimated 7,500 construction jobs.
"This is not something that's all about billionaires," Rybak said, in reference to team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. "This is about lots and lots of people who need work."
Stadium backers on the council pitched the creation of construction jobs to an audience of hard-hatted construction workers that filled council chambers during the more than three-hour meeting.
Influential unions pushed hard for the stadium plan and were pivotal in lining up council support at a time when it appeared Rybak was having trouble assembling a majority.
"I don't like making rich guys richer," said Councilman Don Samuels, who represents the city's low-income north side. "But in this case, while the rich get richer, the poor will get richer too."
The Vikings stadium project went through a bruising political process in which the team's share of the stadium costs was bumped up $50 million by the state legislature.
It was feared that Wilfs may move the Vikings out of Minnesota if the team did not receive government support for a stadium to replace the 30-year-old Metrodome.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.