ST. PAUL-The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is proposing financing support of a ballpark for the Minnesota Twins or stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in an effort to fend off pressure from Gov. Tim Pawlenty to share its casino profits with the state. But the band says it will not renegotiate contracts that give Mille Lacs and 10 other Minnesota tribes a monopoly on casino gaming and levies no taxes on their earnings.

Minnesota’s tribal casinos are estimated to take in more than $1 billion a year, trailing only California and Connecticut. The proposal was contained in a letter to three elected state officials from Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band. Pawlenty has said he wants a “better deal” for Minnesota from gambling operations–meaning a contribution to the state. Both the Twins and Vikings are seeking public support for new sports facilities.

“Because of the growing political pressure to expand gaming and the seeming stalemate between the tribes and the state, now is the time for a new course,” Benjamin said in her letter, which was sent to Pawlenty, House Speaker Steve Sviggum and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson.

In his State of the State address this year, Pawlenty outlined a plan for a “new economic relationship” between the State of Minnesota and the American Indian tribes. Since that time, Pawlenty said his administration has had discussions with the tribes. Early in August, Pawlenty said he met with Benjamin in her office to discuss the issues. “The letter from chief executive Benjamin may set the stage for more productive talks,” Pawlenty says.

Benjamin spoke only for the Mille Lacs Band, which operates the Grand Casinos in Hinckley and on Lake Mille Lacs, two of the three largest casinos in the state. The largest is Mystic Lake in Shakopee owned by the Mdewakanton Sioux.

Other items for discussion in Benjamin’s wide-ranging proposal included new agreements between the tribes and the state that could allow new casino games or simulcasting of horse races at the tribe’s two casinos and creating a Mille Lacs Band foundation with a sizeable tribal contribution that would help fund charities, local governments and other tribal organizations in rural Minnesota.

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