Stadium plans for NFL's Minnesota Vikings hit new delay

By David Bailey

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Minnesota's governor said on Wednesday that plans for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings National Football League team had been thrown into "limbo" after legislative leaders spurned a special session and called for public hearings.

Governor Mark Dayton, whose budget impasse with the Republican-controlled Legislature led to a three-week state shutdown this year, said the lack of support for a session cast doubt on whether any deal could be reached over the next six months.

"We were making progress, I thought, until today," the Democratic governor told reporters after a meeting with legislative leaders. "It just throws it all into limbo now and the clock is ticking."

The Vikings, whose stadium lease expires early next year, allowing the team potentially to leave Minnesota after 50 years, said in a statement it was "concerned about the turn of events surrounding a stadium solution in Minnesota."

"The Vikings stadium issue has been heavily debated in the public for over 10 years," the team said. "With less than 90 days left on the team's lease, the urgency to act is on us."

The Vikings have played at the Metrodome in Minneapolis since 1982 and have not stressed relocation as a possibility.

But an NFL executive said in October it could be a concern if the Vikings' lease expired with no new stadium plan in place and other cities providing options.

With support for a special session lacking, Dayton scrapped plans to release recommendations for a stadium funding plan on Monday and canceled meetings with the Vikings on Friday. He had planned a special session for later in November.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, both Republicans, told reporters the consensus was to hold public hearings on stadium funding proposals.

The Vikings and officials from Ramsey County reached a deal earlier this year to build a $1.1 billion stadium at the site of a former Army munitions plant in the Minneapolis/St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills.

The funding plan called for $350 million backed by a Ramsey County sales tax increase, $300 million from the state and more than $400 million from the Vikings.

The Ramsey County funding portion hit a snag when state lawmakers refused to support an exemption to allow the sales tax increase without a public referendum, something most people believe would be rejected.

At the least, delays in adopting a funding plan would push the stadium's opening beyond the 2015 date expected by the Vikings and increase its cost, team and state officials say.(This version corrects to Vikings in headline) (Editing by Jerry Norton and Peter Cooney)