New Vikings Stadium In Minneapolis Still An Option?
A key lawmaker in the Minnesota Vikings’ quest for a new stadium said Tuesday that she’s considering introducing a bill to finance a stadium – in Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, a Vikings official expressed frustration with what he said were “hurdles” being thrown in the way of the team’s agreement with Ramsey County to build a stadium in Arden Hills.
The apparent possible revival of the Minneapolis plan came on the same day NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – sharing a microphone with Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators – expressed his commitment to fund the Arden Hills stadium.
The notion of a Minneapolis stadium plan being introduced as a bill without Vikings’ support came from Sen. Julie Rosen. The Fairmont Republican is the chief co-sponsor of a framework stadium bill that has already been introduced.
At the morning news conference with Goodell and Dayton, Rosen appeared in lockstep support for Arden Hills: “We’re very excited about moving forward with this proposal and making sure we can get a stadium built.”
But hours later, Rosen said in an interview that she was considering two options:
- One would amend her current bill to reflect the $1.1 billion Arden Hills stadium, which is hung up on how much road work is needed to accommodate it and who will pay for that road work.
- The second option would be to introduce two bills, one for Arden Hills and another for a $1 billion plan that includes building a stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
That plan was laid out by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak on May 16; the next day the team announced its agreement with Ramsey County for the Arden Hills site on the grounds of the abandoned Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.
“I don’t know right now,” Rosen said. “Do you put two bills in, or do you just put one bill? I don’t know. That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief sponsor of the stadium bill in the House, had no comment on Rosen’s comments.
While emphasizing she was “still site-neutral,” Rosen said she liked many aspects of the Minneapolis plan, which would reuse much of the 30-year-old Metrodome to create a new stadium. She also said she consulted with Rybak and Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson when they were drawing up their plan.
“I like the idea of a retrofit of the Dome,” Rosen said. “It would be reusing an existing site. It’s conservative, and Minnesotans can wrap their arms around it. And it doesn’t have the transportation issues.”
Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett said he was “disappointed” by Rosen’s comments.
“A lot of people have spent a lot of time on our proposal and we have followed all the rules,” said Bennett, who has been in various levels of talks with the team for about a year. “I would hope she wouldn’t do what she’s thinking about doing.”
When asked to respond, Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said: “The Minneapolis plan is not a viable proposal. Introducing legislation doesn’t make any sense and we will not support it.”
Even with less than a week left in the legislative session, Bagley said he’s “optimistic” a plan to build in Arden Hills could succeed. Goodell’s presence, he said, was a welcomed development.
However, he added: “I wish there was as much energy for the effort into solving the stadium at Arden Hills as there is in people throwing up objections and hurdles that we have to clear.” Bagely didn’t single out anyone by name.
Specifically, Bagley said recent suggestions that the team have less control over stadium operations and be subject to a Metropolitan Council planning review are potential obstacles that weren’t thrown in front of the Minnesota Twins’ successful plan for Target Field in Minneapolis.
Because the Arden Hills proposal calls for highway improvements, the Met Council likely would have some level of jurisdiction over the plan, and that could delay the project.
But Rosen’s and Lanning’s bills specifically exempt the stadium from such a review.
Rosen on Tuesday was unclear whether she would support removing the Met Council exemption. “Apparently, this is geared toward stopping a stadium by opponents,” she said.
A similar exemption was included for the Twins stadium, and Bagley said he doesn’t see why his team should be any different.
“We feel we’ve done what was asked of us,” Bagley said. “We brought two-thirds of the bill forward. What’s left is the state piece.”
Under an agreement between Ramsey County and the team, but not yet endorsed by Dayton or lawmakers, Ramsey County would pay $350 million via a 0.5 percent countywide sales tax hike; the state would pay $300 million from a series of sales taxes and a lottery; and the team would kick in $407 million.
The team’s contribution includes some financial support from the league, though no figure has been determined, and Bagley wouldn’t say how much the team is seeking. Either way, the league contribution and Goodell’s presence Tuesday in no way suggested the $80 million to $175 million in road improvements now had a funding source. The team and the county didn’t include road costs in the state’s $300 million contribution, but Rosen, Lanning and Dayton all say they need to be.
Chief among the messages Goodell brought was that he said no scenarios are currently being considered that involve the team leaving Minnesota or owners Zygi and Mark Wilf selling the team.
“We want the Vikings to be here, and I know the Wilfs want to be here,” said Goodell, who on Monday toured the Arden Hills site and on Tuesday described it as an “extraordinary site.”
Later, he added, “Let’s try to get it done.”
Dayton said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
MNVikingsblog.com Analysis: Getting a stadium approved will be difficult regardless of the location. Minneapolis only sounds like a better option at times because the package required to build that stadium would be cheaper. The big issue is the state not wanting to pay and the frugal citizens of the state of Minnesota thinking the Vikings should flip the entire bill. What do you guys think? Is one option better then another? Is it worth getting rid of tailgating in order to save money?