SBD/May 11, 2011/Facilities

Vikings, Ramsey County Announce Plan To Build $1B Stadium In Arden Hills

Ramsey County unveiled stadium plan one day after Minneapolis
The Vikings and Ramsey County (Minn.) announced an agreement yesterday to "build a $1 billion football stadium with a retractable roof in Arden Hills, capping a furious day of last-minute negotiations and brushing aside concerns from Gov. Mark Dayton and others that the project may be seriously flawed," according to a front-page piece by Kaszuba, Olson & Duchschere of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf attended yesterday's announcement, a day after no team officials participated in Minneapolis' unveiling of a plan for a stadium on the current Metrodome site. Wilf said, "We believe we have selected the ideal site here in Arden Hills. This establishes a venue for the next generation that our kids and ourselves can be very proud of." The Ramsey County site, a "former 260-acre munitions plant about 10 miles from downtown St. Paul, is one of the largest swaths of undeveloped land left in the Twin Cities." Wilf plans to "build a 1.6 million-square-foot stadium with 21,000 parking spaces and other developments, including a Vikings Hall of Fame." The team would contribute $407M, or 44%, while the county would finance $350M "with a half-cent sales tax increase, leaving the state" to contribute $300M. Still, the Ramsey County plan "faces high hurdles" with Minnesota officials. State legislators "have only 12 days left before they must adjourn the session, and many were voicing concerns on Tuesday that stadium negotiations have become so complex they might miss the deadline" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/11).

A LOOK INSIDE THE STADIUM: In St. Paul, Dave Orrick in a front-page piece reports the Ramsey County plan calls for a retractable-roof stadium that "affords a view of the skylines of both Minneapolis and St. Paul." In addition to the Vikings HOF, Wilf indicated that "bars and restaurants would likely be sprinkled nearby." But "from the sky, the most visible aspect would clearly be its 21,000 parking spaces." Wilf said that the retractable roof "was 'very important' not just for pleasant fall days but also for his desire to bring a professional soccer team there, as well as high school and amateur sports year-round." Orrick notes those are "attributes of the Metrodome that Dayton has said must be included in a new stadium." The Ramsey County stadium "would take three years to build, during which time the team would continue to play at the Metrodome." The stadium complex would "take up more than 200 acres," and the Vikings "would retain development rights to the remainder, perhaps to build hotels and restaurants." Wilf also said that he "hoped the team could retain lucrative naming rights to the stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/11)

DON'T COUNT DOWNTOWN OUT: In St. Paul, Charley Walters notes a deal to build the Ramsey County stadium is "far from complete." Unless approximately $200M "more for highway and road infrastructure improvements is found, don't be surprised if the Vikings soon end up back in Minneapolis seeking a new stadium built on the Metrodome site." The state has said that it is "willing to contribute" $300M for a Ramsey County stadium. But the state "isn't willing to give some $200 million more for highway and road infrastructure improvements." The county "plans to seek the extra $200 million from the Legislature, but lawmakers aren't likely to be forthcoming with the proposal" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/11). Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak yesterday "remained confident he could sell his plan that would replace the Metrodome with a roofed stadium and refurbish Target Center." But in Minneapolis, Steve Brandt notes the "reluctant Vikings aren't his only challenge." Rybak also "needs to persuade the Legislature, the Minnesota Timberwolves and at least six more City Council members to endorse the plan" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/11).

AND THE WINNER IS ... In Minneapolis, Patrick Reusse writes Minneapolis "came up with a haphazard proposal that didn't come close to satisfying the Vikings' desires." The city does not have Hennepin County, home to Target Field, "to bail it out this time." Reusse: "Minneapolis didn't show a pulse as Hennepin County was saving the Twins and providing the city with a spectacular asset in Target Field. And now the city's political followers expected to sit on their dead rears and to be bailed out again -- by some unknown force -- with the Vikings" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/11). But a STAR TRIBUNE editorial states the Vikings risk "overplaying their hand by continuing to flirt with Ramsey County officials on a stadium site in Arden Hills." The team "thumbed its nose at a smart and less expensive plan for a new fixed-roof stadium on the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis that would also benefit the community by renovating and taking Target Center off the property tax rolls." It is "understandable that the Wilfs want to make the best possible business deal for themselves and the team." But this "isn't a case of two private entities at the negotiating table." Taxpayers "would end up owning the majority stake in either stadium, and their elected officials should make the responsible choice" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/11).
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