Legislators considering joint stadium despite U opposition

by Melinda Rogers

Despite University opposition to a joint stadium for Twins, Vikings and Gophers teams, legislators are considering a task force this summer to study stadium possibilities.

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, announced Monday his plans for an informal study commission to consider stadium options for the three teams.

“(The task force) would consider all options on a stadium, from private funding to public funding to a combination with the Gophers, and what would be appropriate, if any, state involvement,” Sviggum said.

In the past, Sviggum opposed funding a new stadium using taxpayer money.

He said he hasn’t changed his beliefs on the issue but has a new attitude about the Legislature’s involvement in exploring stadium options.

University officials have emphasized in recent months that a new stadium is not a priority.

Venora Hung, chairwoman of the student representatives to the Board of Regents, questioned why the Legislature might provide the University with stadium funds after granting only a fraction of the institution’s budget proposal this June.

“You wonder, what are the priorities of the state?” Hung said.

“The University is more concerned with the budget and academics right now. A stadium is not a priority,” she said.

In March, regents discussed the possibility of a joint football stadium between the Gophers and Vikings.

University President Mark Yudof has said funding for that $500 million stadium must come from sources outside the institution. He added that the University’s football team is contracted to play at the Metrodome until 2011.

Sviggum plans to speak with Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine, in upcoming weeks about Senate participation in the stadium task force. Moe has supported state funding for a new Twins stadium.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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