September 01, 2014

Dayton aide, tribal representatives meet on Vikings stadium

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A senior adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton has met with representatives of two Minnesota Indian tribes amid talk that expanded casino gambling could help finance a new Vikings stadium.

Dayton acknowledged the meeting in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press. He said he has not personally spoken with tribal officials about the issue.

The governor described the meeting last week led by his Deputy Chief of Staff Michele Kelm-Helgen as merely conversations where “nothing definitive” resulted. His spokeswoman, Katie Tinucci, later identified the tribes represented as the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

They run two of Minnesota's most lucrative tribal casinos. Lobbyists for both tribes didn't immediately return messages from the AP. The tribes have long resisted an expansion of gambling that would allow new casinos to rival theirs.

The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome runs out in early February. Team officials have refrained from direct threats to leave Minnesota in the absence of a new stadium, but Dayton and others who back a facility have said they take such a scenario seriously.

Among the options being discussed to finance a stadium are fees and taxes generated from a downtown Minneapolis casino pursued by a private developer, and authorization of slot machines at two private horse-racing tracks.

Dayton disclosed the meeting when asked if his administration had been in contact with the tribes about a voluntarily contribution to head off expanded gambling.

Tinucci said Kelm-Helgen “didn't ask for anything” from lobbyists for the tribes.

John McCarthy, the executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association – which represents 11 casino-owning tribes, including the Shakopee and Mille Lacs bands – said he was not aware of the meeting.

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