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Vikes' stadium pact with Ramsey County nears July 1 deadline

The preliminary agreement between the Minnesota Vikings and Ramsey County to construct a $1 billion stadium in suburban Arden Hills faces a ticking clock, and could be squashed if the state legislature fails to approve the build by July 1, according to *The Star Tribune* on Monday.

Legislative approval for the deal remains uncertain and might depend on Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans finding an initial fix for the state's $5.1 billion deficit.

The July 1 deadline was included in terms made public in May and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House author of stadium legislation, told the newspaper "that's a deadline we all have."

Ramsey County commissioner Tony Bennett, who helped broker the original deal with the Vikings, called the deadline insignificant.

"Why would we start from scratch again?" he said. "Nobody's holding a gun to my head. Nobody's holding a gun to (the Vikings') head.

"If those deadlines come up and somebody says, 'Let's take a walk, and not come back,' that could happen," Bennett told The Star Tribune. "All I can tell you is generally we are in a good position. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

The deal with Ramsey County outlined terms for the Vikings to contribute $407 million to the project, with the county raising $350 million and the state injecting $300 million. Dayton has insisted that $131 million in road improvements in the area come from the state's portion.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has said from the start his priority is keeping his team in Minnesota for the next generation of fans. When asked how the stadium would help Minnesota, he cited a major lift to the economy.

Wilf added that a new facility would give Minnesota the opportunity to host events like the Final Four and the Super Bowl. He also downplayed the notion that his public statements about keeping the Vikings in Minnesota is hurting his leverage, especially with buzz building about an NFL team landing in a new stadium in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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