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Minnesota Vikings stadium bill gets OK from state Senate

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- After 11 hours of debate and some close calls, the Minnesota Vikings stadium legislation won approval late Tuesday from the state Senate to set up a final round of negotiations.

The full Legislature is now on record, with a majority of lawmakers opting for a publicly subsidized stadium. Barring reversals or late surprises, the Vikings are primed to emerge this month with authorization for a new $975 million stadium it has chased for more than a decade.

The Senate's 38-20 vote Tuesday came a day after the House approved its own stadium bill. A conference committee will work out differences, and the Vikings are already on record against the House version for a $105 million hike in the amount they would pay. The Senate's version includes a smaller bump of $25 million.

If both chambers pass the final product, the measure goes to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who has led the charge for a new stadium for months.

The Vikings say they can't make enough money in the 30-year-old Metrodome to compete.

A user fee amendment -- adopted on a 40-26 vote -- would levy a 10 percent fee on suites and on parking within a half-mile of the stadium, and impose a 6.875 percent fee on Vikings clothing, trading cards and other memorabilia.

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Earlier Tuesday, Vikings vice president Lester Bagley warned state lawmakers against making major changes to the financing proposal, saying they risked losing the team's support. Bagley said there were "a lot of issues that needed to be sorted through" in the upcoming conference committee.

Under a plan negotiated last winter by the governor, key lawmakers, the Minneapolis mayor and the team, the Vikings would pay $427 million and the state would pay $398 million, with the money coming from an expansion of gambling. The city of Minneapolis would kick in $150 million by redirecting an existing hospitality tax.

But lawmakers will have the final say on how big a taxpayer subsidy is provided.

The Vikings are no longer under a Metrodome lease, but they are committed to playing there next season.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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