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White Earth Band proposes casino to help fund Minnesota Vikings stadium

ST. PAUL -- The White Earth Band's chairwoman plans to announce Thursday details of a proposal to build a Twin Cities casino that could provide funding to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Metrodome
The Vikings lease to use the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis ended Feb. 1, although this week the team said it would remain in Minnesota at least another year. (2011 file / St. Paul Pioneer Press, Associated Press)

ST. PAUL -- The White Earth Band's chairwoman plans to announce Thursday details of a proposal to build a Twin Cities casino that could provide funding to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

The announcement follows December comments by Chairwoman Erma Vizenor, who said White Earth and the state could split the estimated $300 million annual profits. Also, she said, the casino could provide $10 million new state taxes annually.

An informal committee headed by Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, is looking into building a stadium. One of the major sticking points is how to fund it.

The Vikings lease to use the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis ended Feb. 1, although this week the team said it would remain in Minnesota at least another year. The team long has said it needs a new stadium to make more money.

The stadium would be used for other events than just Vikings games.

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With 40,000 members, White Earth is the state's largest American Indian band. While it is based on a northwestern Minnesota reservation, thousands also live in the Twin Cities.

A White Earth website on the casino proposal, which says the band is the state's poorest, says its plan is the best because it involves no new taxes.

"Many Minnesotans have told us that they are not satisfied with any of the Vikings stadium funding schemes that have been offered so far," the site says. "We are creating a solution that not only would pay for the public's share of the stadium, but would generate money for critical state priorities."

Among those scheduled to appear at the Capitol news conference announcing the casino are Vizenor and bill authors Reps. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, and Bob Gunther, R-Fairmount. Also to attend are Mahnomen City Administrator Jerry Carrier and Corry Merrifield, who founded the Save the Vikes organization.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the News Tribune.

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