Vikings to play 2 cold seasons in outdoor stadium

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Next season will be the Minnesota Vikings' last in the 31-year-old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and fans of the purple and gold can look forward to blue lips and red cheeks as they shiver through two seasons of old-school outdoor football.

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said Friday that the team plans to play at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, while the team's new stadium gets built at the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis.

Team officials and the state authority overseeing construction convened at the dome Friday to finalize the deal for Minneapolis firm Mortenson Construction to earn $12.5 million to build the new stadium. That fee could reach $15 million if the firm meets performance incentives, but could be lowered if the construction lags. Mortenson also built the Minnesota Twins' Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium.

The Vikings had hoped to play only one season at the outdoor stadium, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Metrodome. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority had looked into starting construction while the Metrodome still stood, but authority chair Michelle Kelm-Helgen said that proved too difficult.

Plans now call for the Metrodome to be torn down in February 2014 and for the new stadium to be ready to open by July 1, 2016.

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Dayton administration puts finer point on tax plan

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — On defense over its sweeping tax plan, Gov. Mark Dayton's administration struck back Friday back against perceptions that his proposed sales tax expansion would put Minnesota businesses at a disadvantage when bidding for out-of-state service contracts.

Dayton's proposal to make a range of consumer and business-to-business services subject to the sales tax is a cornerstone of the budget he released last month with the aim of closing a $1.1 billion deficit and boosting spending on education and other priorities. The plan has produced plenty of protest, particularly from companies that would collectively pay more than $2 billion in new sales taxes on legal services, accountant contracts and other transactions.

The Department of Revenue issued a 16-page clarification of its sales tax proposal that commissioner Myron Frans explained in detail to reporters.

The department's new primer says that when the recipient of a service is from out of state, no tax would be owed. When the buyer and seller are in the state, the tax would apply. When the buyer is in Minnesota but the service provider isn't, the buyer could be responsible for paying the tax.

"As long as the buyer is in Minnesota, it's taxable," said Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans.

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Ramsey, Hennepin counties sue mortgage registry

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area sued a nationwide mortgage registry Friday, saying the company and its member mortgage lenders may have cost Minnesota counties millions of dollars by deliberately failing to register every mortgage transfer with county offices — avoiding to pay required fees.

The lawsuit against Virginia-based Mortgage Electronic Registration Service Inc., or MERS, was filed by prosecutors in Ramsey and Hennepin counties, but it seeks class-action status to allow all Minnesota counties to join.

Prosecutors said MERS is a private company created in 1995 to make it easier for lenders to buy and sell mortgages. Information from the company says it operates an electronic database that tracks changes in who owns interest in residential mortgage loans. MERS is made up of about 3,000 members, including lenders and investors.

Prosecutors said the company and its members failed to record every mortgage assignment, which is the transfer of a loan obligation from one party to another, and pay the associated fees. They said the system works at the expense of the "integrity of our public land records."

"We are taking action today to reclaim and maintain the public's right to property records," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement. "Our counties and taxpayers have suffered significant financial loss due to a back-door scheme to privatize our public recording system, and we intend to recover that loss."

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Minn. high school reports quiet day after brawl

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis school officials say they take seriously concerns about a "possible racial component" to a fight involving hundreds of students at South High School.

In a statement, Minneapolis Public Schools says the district and police continue to investigate the cause of Thursday's lunchroom brawl that sent four people to hospitals with minor injuries.

The district says South operated on a normal schedule Friday, under a precautionary lockdown. Students remained in their classrooms at all times, and access into and out of the building was limited. Additional safety and security measures also were in place.

A Minneapolis police spokesman says the case has been turned over to investigators.

South plans to host a parent and community meeting soon.