2012 Legislative session: Year of the Vikings?

Gov. Mark Dayton sings the Vikings stadium deal with owner Ziggy Wilfe observing.

The 2012 legislative session will be remembered as the year of the Vikings stadium.

Bolstered by saturation media coverage, the drive to build the $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis by the final weeks of the session towered over virtually any other issue before Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican Legislature.

Dayton signed the stadium bill in a State Capitol ceremony Monday.

The stadium was one of those issues that comes along every 20 or 30 years, explained House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove.

“It took up so much time, so much air, so much oxygen out of the room, and energy, it’s hard to focus on what was traditional,” said Zellers of the waves caused by the stadium.

Republicans cite the stadium as Dayton’s sole priority — Zellers, for one, kept a certain distance from the stadium, voting against it, though a member of the House Republican Caucus said the Speaker worked hard behind the scenes to find Republican votes.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, argued that the Democratic votes that pushed the stadium over the top were the saving grace to a session that otherwise would have proven a “do-nothing session.”

“I would say that Paul (House Minority Leader Paul Thissen) and I bailed then out,” said Bakk of Republicans.

Dayton styled Republican talk of the stadium being his No. 1 priority so much “spin.”

“My priority from Day One was jobs,” said Dayton.

The stadium — the bonding bill — accounts for thousands of new jobs, he explained.

Things did happen this session outside of the decade-old Vikings stadium issue apparently being resolved.

For the full story, see the Thursday, May 17 print edition of the Times.