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Vikings' drive for new stadium thrown for a loss by Minnesota governor

Minnesota Vikings executives likely spent this bye weekend trying to figure out how they're going to get a new stadium.

The job got more difficult for the NFL franchise after Gov. Mark Dayton last week ruled out a tax increase as a way to help pay for a stadium.

One half sales tax hike MN Vikings stadium

The Vikes had hoped to build the facility in Ramsey County.

And the team had hoped that the county would help out via a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for part of the $1 billion retractable roof stadium.

But the governor's announcement ends that funding option.

It does, however, earn the half-cent figure this week's By the Numbers honors.

Members of the Ramsey County Board who wanted the Vikings to play in their community of Arden Hills, Minn., had proposed raising the county sales tax by half a cent to come up with the $350 million local share of the stadium's overall cost.

However, after talking with Minnesota lawmakers from both parties, Dayton said there is not enough support in the legislature to exempt any proposed tax increase from a public vote.

And without an exemption, a vote couldn't be held until November 2012.

That's much too late for the Vikings, who are in the final year of their lease with the Minneapolis Metrodome. They want work to begin on their new digs ASAP.

Tough tax times: Of course, putting a stadium tax to the voters might not work regardless of its timing.

Minnesota shut down for two weeks this summer, in part because of differences over tax hikes, and residents are still painfully aware of the state's continuing fiscal challenges.

And while some county officials might want the stadium in their backyard, many Ramsey County residents let the board know during a September public hearing that they in no way wanted to pay even ½ cent extra to fund construction of a professional football stadium.

So it's back to the blackboard to try to come up with another game plan.

Other ways to pay: Dayton said discussions would continue on several other funding possibilities, including the collection of taxes on a variety gambling offerings in the state.

One proposal would allow bars and restaurants to go from offering paper pull-tabs to electronic ones. That switch has been estimated by legislative researchers to raise up to $42 million a year, and Dayton said he sees the option as being the one most likely to garner widespread support.

Also under discussion is using money from Minnesota's "Legacy" sales tax, approved by voters in 2008 to dedicate money to arts and cultural programs, outdoor preservation and clean water initiatives. Dayton said that isn't his top choice to pay for a Vikings stadium, but he wouldn't rule it out.

Regardless of what funding mechanism is found, the Vikings can help their chances of getting public support by performing better on whatever field they play.

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