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Dayton tells legislative leaders to lead on stadium

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton is ramping up attacks on what he sees as legislative leaders' lack of effort on a Vikings football stadium.

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"It's time for the leaders of the Legislature to show some leadership," Dayton told Capitol reporters Tuesday.

He said leaders, apparently referring to Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, have done little to advance debate on a new stadium.

"Some people, all they know is 'no'," Democrat Dayton said.

Lawmakers have yet to schedule public hearings on stadium construction, as they promised to do a week ago, the most recent time they met with Dayton.

In the meantime, the Vikings launched a new public relations effort, stopping at a southern Twin Cities Chamber of Commerce meeting on Tuesday to pitch the need for a new stadium. They also have released a new promotional video.

The Vikings have said that they would be the only National Football League team without a stadium lease after theirs expires Feb. 1. But while they have been careful not to say the team would leave Minnesota, Dayton regularly has called that "a very real threat."

While Republican lawmakers offered no official response to Dayton on Tuesday, the Senate GOP communications director said it is Dayton's job to produce a stadium plan.

Dayton "has not produced a stadium plan, a site, no financing, no votes from DFLers, no deal," Michael Brodkorb tweeted.

The governor intended to call a special legislative session to deal with the stadium situation on Thanksgiving week, but gave up that idea a week ago when top lawmakers said they were not ready for a session and wanted to hold hearings first.

A House Republican spokeswoman on Tuesday said those hearings have not been scheduled.

And Dayton said that hearings could produce good information, but negotiations are needed to produce a stadium construction plan.

"I urge them to get this thing on track," Dayton said of legislative leaders, almost begging them to establish a stadium timetable. "We're back in the Twilight Zone."

Zellers says a special session is not needed. He is one of many lawmakers who say a stadium debate does not warrant a special session.

Dayton and the Vikings want a special session before the regular legislative session begins on Jan. 24. If the issue is brought up in the regular session, Dayton said, it likely will not be decided until just before lawmakers go home in May.

For the first time in public, Dayton also said on Tuesday that he hears many legislators do not want to vote on a stadium before the 2012 elections. Dayton accused those lawmakers, whom he would not name, of putting their jobs ahead of the 13,000 people who would be employed during stadium construction.

Allowing bars to use electronic devices instead of the current paper pull tabs and bingo cards is Dayton's favored way to provide public funding for a stadium, he said Tuesday, quickly adding that it is a "bad idea" to take money away from cultural and heritage programs for a stadium.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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