SBD/May 10, 2011/Facilities

Minneapolis Unveils $1B Plan For Vikings Stadium, Target Center Renovations

Vikings officials say they cannot support Minneapolis' $1B stadium plan
Minneapolis officials yesterday unveiled a $1B plan to "build a new Vikings stadium at the Metrodome site, fix up city-owned Target Center and cut property taxes," according to Duchschere, Olson & Brandt of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The plan includes a "bevy of new or expanded taxes: admission taxes on stadium events, higher street parking fees on game days and extension of a downtown hotel, liquor and restaurant tax citywide." It also would institute a 0.15% sales tax, "similar to one that Hennepin County imposed to help build Target Field." The proposal, introduced by Mayor R.T. Rybak, would have the Vikings paying 45% -- $400M -- of an $895M "roofed stadium on the Dome site." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that team officials "appreciated the proposal but that a $400 million contribution was too much." Bagley also noted that playing at TCF Bank Stadium "for three years while the new field was built would cost the Vikings $40 million in lost revenue." He said, "$440 million for the site does not work, and it's not something we can support." The team also is in "what it describes as serious discussions with Ramsey County about a new stadium in Arden Hills." Still, yesterday's announcement, also calling for a $95M renovation to Target Center, is a "startling reversal in Minneapolis' public stance in the ongoing stadium debate." Rybak and other city officials had insisted that the city "had no new resources to help finance such a project." It "wasn't immediately clear how much support the plan enjoys among the 13 City Council members" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10). In St. Paul, Dave Orrick notes Minneapolis' vision for a new Vikings stadium "amounts to a massive retrofitting of the bones of the Metrodome." A rendering of the design from Aecom, which was "drawn up with little input from the team," shows a "sleek-lined exterior with a roof-high glass facade facing the city's skyline" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/10).

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Following the unveiling of Minneapolis' plan, Bagley said, "It's a serious proposal. Our issues are that they put it together without our involvement. We only got a broad outlook last week. We have some concerns about it." Asked about his optimism the Vikings will reach a stadium deal, Bagley said, "We're closer than we've ever been. But the window is closing. If we don't bring a package imminently the window will close. We still think there's time (before the state Legislature is scheduled to adjourn May 23). ... Minneapolis is a real proposal. As it's been presented, it has challenges. And we have not agreed to terms with Ramsey County. Right now, there's one proposal that has emerged, and we're hopeful there will be another. We are close to an agreement, but there are obstacles that make the Ramsey County site more expensive than other sites" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/10). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert noted the Vikings "have the bidding war they wanted but appear to have reservations about both sites" (ESPN.com, 5/9). A STAR TRIBUNE editorial states Minneapolis' proposal is an "affordable, forward-looking solution." The Vikings "need to realize that the Dome plan offers the best odds for a stadium bill to receive the necessary 2011 support from a local partner, the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10).

PEERS WEIGH IN: Former Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell, who was the point man for the team's pursuit of a ballpark that eventually resulted in Target Field, weighed in yesterday "about the Vikings' attempt to get a new stadium." Bell said, "If they can get the right package together, I'm almost sure the votes are there to do it. The governor doesn't seem to think a budget has to be passed first. Others seem to think a budget has to be done first. That could be a stumbling block." Bell added, "It would be very, very helpful to have a firm commitment from a local partner. ... The local partner is huge. And you need something that's simple, something everyone can understand" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/10). T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor yesterday sent a letter to fans in response to the proposal from Minneapolis and plans to renovate Target Center, writing, "The Timberwolves are truly excited about the renovation plans, and will be helping to pay for our fair share" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 5/9).

ALL OPPOSED? In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba reports as the push for a new Vikings stadium "escalates at the Legislature, a large majority of Minnesotans still oppose using public subsidies for the project, even though they agree that keeping the team in the state is important." More than 60% of respondents in the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll said that the Vikings "should simply keep playing in the Metrodome," while nearly 75% believe that Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf "should not get taxpayer money for a new stadium." But a year after the Twins opened Target Field, the poll, "for the first time, showed that a majority favored spending public money on that project." Kaszuba notes 55% now say that "public financing of the project was worth it," up from 48% in October (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10).
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