Hennepin County Out Of The Running For New Viking Stadium
The county board chair told Gov. Mark Dayton in a letter that Hennepin, unlike its backing of a sales tax for Target Field, won’t be a local partner in the football stadium purusit.
Hennepin County is out of the running as a possible local partner for funding a new Minnesota Vikings stadium this year, Board Chair Mike Opat said Thursday.
“My pursuit of an agreement with the Vikings to present to my colleagues, yourself and legislative leaders will not continue at this time,” Opat wrote Gov. Mark Dayton in a letter delivered Thursday.
Opat’s decision effectively takes the Farmers Market site off the table, because Hennepin County was the only potential partner in favor of that location near Target Field. It apparently leaves two sites still in the mix: the Metrodome, which is backed by Minneapolis city leaders, and the large former munitions plant in Arden Hills, which is being promoted by Ramsey County commissioners.
A stadium bill introduced last month divides the cost of a new stadium — estimated at $700 million and $900 million — three ways between the state, the team and an unnamed local partner. Many stadium backers had hoped that Hennepin County would fill that spot.
Opat spearheaded the county’s efforts five years ago to pass a sales tax to help build Target Field for the Minnesota Twins. Opat has been openly skeptical about prospects for a similar partnership with the Vikings, but he has kept the door open in ongoing discussions with state leaders and team officials.
In his letter to Dayton, Opat said proposed state cuts for Hennepin County Medical Center and social service programs, lack of enthusiasm for the project among legislators and insufficient time taken to develop “a thoughtful proposal” led to his decision to halt further explorations.
“In time of severe cuts proposed to local governments and to the services we provide, it is too burdensome for Hennepin County to act as a local partner for the Vikings stadium,” Opat wrote.
Minneapolis city officials strongly favor the Dome site as being the cheapest to build on, and say that they consider that site their local contribution to a new stadium.
Ted Mondale, chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, is expected next week to release a detailed analysis comparing the costs of the three potential sites.
MNVikesBlog.com Analysis: It looks like Mike Opat has now squashed any chance of the new Vikings home living next to their “Twin” brother. (Ok, I know that was bad!) I still believe that the ammunition plant is still the best place for the new stadium. Regardless the location, the stadium absolutely needs to be built.