Vikings and Ramsey County Could Pay For Road Construction.
The Vikings and Ramsey County are expected to lay out a plan as early as Monday that would cover about half of the $131 million cost in roads upgrades around the proposed Arden Hills stadium site.
The proposal would ask the state to pay the other half of costs, roughly $65 million, for managed lanes that would go in one direction in the morning commute and the other for the evening commute, said Ramsey County lobbyist Nick Riley, who has been involved in the negotiations.
The argument is the state Department of Transportation should cover the cost of the so-called sane lanes because they would be used mostly by commuters on Interstate 35W to and from the downtown during weekday rush hours while the Vikings would need the lanes for about 10 home games a year.
“It would benefit the public more than people going in and out of a stadium every other week,” Riley said.
Riley said the county could apply for grant money from the Transportation Advisory Board, possibly getting as much as $7.5 million, to cover its portion. Another option would be toll lanes, which he concedes are not popular, or to use the $20 surcharge paid on every new or used car in lieu of sales tax.
The Vikings would likely seek to fund their portion with a user fee at the stadium, possibly on parking, he said.
But the big question is how Gov. Mark Dayton will react. The governor and his proxy, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Chairman Ted Mondale, have repeatedly said the state’s share of the projected $1 billion cost would be capped at $300 million.
Under the deal announced earlier this year by the Vikings and Ramsey County, the team and the NFL would pay $407 million. The county would be expected to pay $350 million from a countywide increase of a half cent on the sales tax. Now the county also, apparently, would be paying for part of the roads cost.
Mondale was in a meeting and not immediately available to comment.
Of the administration’s reaction, Riley said, “I’m guessing it will be more on the negative side.” But he said the hope is legislators would be more supportive.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley didn’t respond to specific questions about the teams plans or the proposal, but said he is continuing to work with bill sponsors and the governor’s office. “Feel like we’ve answered the bell – done everything we’ve been asked,” Bagley said.
To keep their deal alive, the team and the county face a legislative-imposed deadline of Friday to lay out a proposal for the roads. The Legislature will need to come back into session to pass at a budget at some unknown time in the future.
If the stadium is to be in play during the special session, legislators would need to hold hearings, likely next week, before the Legislature returns.
This is great news! One of the biggest sticking points was the extra 131 million dollars associated with the road construction. The Vikings have continuously said that its an improvement that the entire state would benefit from them. The State retaliates with the fact that the roads aren’t needed without the addition of the stadium. This looks like a possible situation in which both sides can contribute and be happy. No it only takes the legislation to sign on the dotted line. Let’s get a deal done! Skol Vikes!