The next hurdle between the franchise and the $975 million stadium it pines for is Tuesday's Minnesota state Senate vote after the state House voted 73-58 in favor of the financing proposal to construct a replacement for the antiquated Metrodome. The Senate revived and approved an amendment that would include user fees for luxury suites, parking, select stadium services and possibly tickets and merchandise, to reduce the funding the state requires the Vikings to raise. The bill sponsor, Julie Rosen, said a 10 percent user fee would apply to suites and all parking within one-half mile of the new stadium. A similar vote to tax tickets, concessions, merchandise and parking -- identified collectively as user fees by the House -- to offset state construction costs failed by a 74-57 vote Monday night. The House-approved bill is dramatically different than the version debated Tuesday in the Senate. It calls for the team commitment to increase from $427 to $532 million, a notion the team immediately scoffed at, with vice president Lester Bagley saying ownership isn't prepared to increase their out-of-pocket costs by $105 million as Monday's vote recommends. House members were volleying proposals and made dramatic changes to the structure of the bill, which proposed payments of $150 million from the city of Minneapolis and $400 million from the state of Minnesota. The rest of the money would come from the team, and the House wants to ask for the Wilf Family to kick in approximately 51 percent of the final sticker price, Bagley said. But House lawmakers included passage of an amendment, by a vote of 97-31, to increase the price the Vikings would pay -- and the state would save -- by $105 million. Pat Garofalo, a Republican, introduced the amendment. However, the Senate plans to vote on the original competing version. --- Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt denied instructing defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove to "play dumb" when questioned by NFL security about the team's bounty program. Vitt told the New Orleans Times Picayune that conversation never took place. "At no time did I ever tell Anthony Hargrove to lie or deny the existence (of the alleged bounty program)," Vitt said. "He can say whatever he wants to say. It just didn't happen." Hargrove's signed declaration was published by Yahoo Sports on Monday. Vitt acknowledged the pay-for-performance program was in place but denied it was a "bounty" program. --- New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora backed retired quarterback Kurt Warner for his stance that he preferred for his sons to not play football. Umenyiora tweeted his support for Warner on Tuesday and agreed that football may be too dangerous for kids, and added that former Giant wide receiver Amani Toomer was "dead wrong" for attacking Warner for his beliefs. "Kurt Warner is Right to think how he is thinking about his kids and football," Umenyiora tweeted. "It's an awesome game and has done a lot for me, but i know when im 45 there is a strong chance il be in a wheelchair. If i can avoid that for my son, i will. But if he wants to play i won't stop him." ---Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has reached a plea agreement on drug and burglary charges in Montana, according to a report in The Great Falls Tribune. The paper said that Leaf's lawyer, Kenneth Olson, requested a combined arraignment and change-of-plea hearing on charges that Leaf stole prescription painkillers from two houses in his hometown. Leaf has been in jail since April 2 after being arrested for the second time in three days. He also faces a possible sentence in Texas after police there moved to revoke his probation from a 2010 plea agreement on similar charges. ---Defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is getting a second chance with the Cowboys, who claimed their fourth-round pick in 2010 off waivers from Jacksonville. Dallas also was awarded punter Jake Rogers off waivers from Tampa Bay. Owusu-Ansah was cut by the Cowboys on Nov. 30 last season and hooked on with the Jaguars' practice squad. ---Safety Josh Bush, a sixth-round pick, signed with the Jets. Terms were not disclosed. Bush had 134 career tackles at Wake Forest to go along with seven interceptions in 46 games. He has experience at safety and cornerback. The Jets also announced the signings of undrafted free agents offensive lineman Fred Koloto, wide receiver Royce Pollard and quarterback Matt Simms. Center Kris O'Dowd was waived. --Linebacker Melvin Ingram, defensive end Kendall Reyes and center David Molk signed four-year deals with the Chargers. Financial terms were not disclosed. Ingram was the 18th overall pick in the NFL Draft last month after racking up 19 sacks over the past two years at South Carolina. His deal includes a team option for a fifth season, standard for first-round picks. Reyes, a three-year starter at UConn, was a second-round pick. Molk, who won the Rimington Award at Michigan as the nation's top center last year, was selected in the seventh round. ---Tight end Evan Rodriguez, a fourth-round pick out of Temple, agreed to a four-year deal with the Bears. Financial terms were not disclosed. --Guard Chris Riley and defensive tackle Vaughan Meatoga were added to the Bengals' roster. Riley was acquired off waivers from Tampa Bay. Originally signed by Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State last year, he was waived Sept. 3 and joined the Bucs' practice squad Oct. 5. Meatoga signed with Washington as an undrafted rookie out of Hawaii last year and was waived Monday. ---Wide receiver Toney Clemons, a seventh-round pick by the Steelers, agreed to a three-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed. Clemons was the 231st overall pick after leading Colorado with 680 receiving yards on 44 catches. He spent his first two college seasons at Michigan before transferring. ---The Oakland Raiders signed free agent center Colin Miller, who was in training camp with the Steelers last season. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Central Michigan in 2011. He made 46 starts in 27 games during his college career. --The Bears signed seventh-round pick Greg McCoy to a four-year contract. McCoy was drafted with the 220th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of TCU. The cornerback started 39 of 52 games for the Horned Frogs from 2008-11 and returned kickoffs the last three seasons with the team. He had seven interceptions and 17 pass breakups in his career. ---The NFL won't allow Colts owner Jim Irsay to use his private jet to fly top pick Andrew Luck to and from workouts with teammates while he completes his final quarter at Stanford. Luck attended the rookie minicamp with the team after the draft, but terms of the collective bargaining agreement prohibit him from attending practices with the Colts until June 7, when Luck's college class graduates. Irsay offered the use of his aircraft to get Luck from California to Florida, where wide receiver Reggie Wayne planned to host workouts with his new quarterback and wide receivers. Luck, undeterred by the NFL clarifying the rule, plans to attend workouts with Wayne anyway, the Star reported. ---A judge in McKinney, Texas, ordered custody of Deion Sanders' children to the former NFL player and instructed Sanders' wife to stay "a minimum of 500 yards" from their suburban Dallas mansion. The court proceedings followed a series of public claims of verbal and domestic assault by Sanders and his estranged wife, Pilar Sanders, who had also been seeking a protective order. Her request was not granted. The ultimate fate of the $5.7 million home and custody of the children is to be determined. ---Fullback Ovie Mughelli was released by the Falcons. The 2010 Pro Bowl lead blocker for Michael Turner suffered a season-ending knee injury in October last season. Atlanta signed Mike Cox after Turner's injury and drafted Bradie Ewing in the fifth round out of Wisconsin. ---Punter Nick Harris signed with the Panthers and is expected to compete with rookie Brad Nortman. Harris was released by Jacksonville after the Jaguars drafted Pat Angerer last month. .
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By The Sports Xchange May 8, 2012 7:10 PM