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Minnesota pols resist public funding for new Vikings stadium

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A cadre of Minnesota legislators opposed to putting public money into a deal for a new Vikings stadium acknowledged Thursday they'd let the team flee the state rather than let themselves be strong-armed into cutting a deal at any price.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, meanwhile, laid out two funding options and three possible sites in a bid to keep the team from bolting from the city to the suburbs -- or beyond. His plan relies on new sales and lodging taxes or proceeds from a potential downtown casino.

All of it comes as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's self-imposed deadline for crafting a stadium plan approaches. He hopes to call lawmakers into special session before Thanksgiving to vote on hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies.

The Vikings have four games remaining on their Metrodome lease, and have made it clear that they won't re-up without assurances that a new stadium will get built. Team owner Zygi Wilf has stopped short of threatening to leave the state, but other cities craving an NFL franchise are paying attention.

"We don't want them to leave, but if they're going to leave I guess that is going to happen," said Sen. David Hann, a Republican who led a news conference by a bipartisan group of lawmakers fighting efforts to expand gambling to help pay for a new stadium. The lawmakers said their opposition extends to using all forms of taxpayer money.

Added GOP Sen. Dave Thompson, an assistant majority leader: "I have to do what I believe is right. I wouldn't be making the Vikings leave. It would be the ownership of the Vikings making a decision to leave if they do and the NFL allowing them because they don't get what they want."

Dayton and GOP leaders are due to meet privately Friday to discuss the next steps.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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