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The proposal to build a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills “might seem like a coup for Ramsey County and the east metro, which has long endured in the shadow of the larger west metro,” but state lawmakers from the county “overwhelmingly oppose it,” according to Dave Orrick of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Eighteen of the county's 22 state reps and senators responded to a survey “asking whether they supported the current county-Vikings proposal to build” a $1.1B stadium complex. State Sen. John Harrington was the sole legislator who “supported it.” State Rep. Tim Mahoney said he is "strongly considering it." Two lawmakers said that “they hadn't decided.” Fourteen said that they “oppose it, with many responding” via e-mail with capital letters: "NO." The proposal for the new stadium includes $350M from Ramsey County, which “would levy a 0.5 percent countywide sales tax.” The proposal “seeks to have state law make an exception to a requirement that voters decide such a tax in a ballot question.” But “all that taxing -- at a time when state funding for services is likely to be cut -- was the primary reason Ramsey County legislators said the stadium plan is a bad idea.” Still, Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega “appear to have rallied enough of their colleagues on the county board to ratify the plan, if it becomes law,” and the plan “appears to have support from the Arden Hills City Council.” Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale, Gov. Mark Dayton's “point person for the stadium,” said, "I think there's a lot of will to get this done. We do have to get a plan that's workable. I'm not a vote-counter, but I'm optimistic" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/13).
HOLDING OFF FOR NOW: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said Thursday that he is “not yet willing to support a new Minnesota Vikings stadium north of his city in Ramsey County, questioning whether his constituents will benefit in equal measure to the increased taxes they'll pay” as residents of the county. Coleman: "Whether it's got a great direct benefit to the city of St. Paul is one of the things I'm going to be asking. Quite frankly, a huge chunk of that half-cent sales tax would be generated in the city of St. Paul." Coleman said that he “did consider the Vikings an important state asset, and didn't rule out supporting the Ramsey County deal” (AP, 5/12).
CLOCK IS TICKING: In Minneapolis, Kaszuba, Olson & Duchschere note with just 10 days before the state Legislature must adjourn, Vikings stadium supporters “appeared to be exploring their options” as the project's “complexities appeared to mount.” State Sen. Julie Rosen, the Senate's chief author on stadium legislation, said that the Vikings asked her Thursday “whether the project could obtain a tentative approval from the Legislature this year, then work out the details later.” She said the team asked, "Is this something that could go next year, if we have something in place?" Rosen: "I said, well, certainly, but I'm not sure where the governor's at with that." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley “acknowledged posing the question but denied any intent to push the negotiations into next year” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/13).
KICKING THE TIRES: MLSSOCCER.com reports MLS "has confirmed that there has been contact with the ownership group" of the Vikings regarding its "interest in an MLS team for the Twin Cities." MLS President Mark Abbott said, "We have kept in contact with the Vikings throughout their stadium process and look forward to learning more about the project" (MLSSOCCER.com, 5/12).
DC United "has repeatedly failed in efforts to build a new stadium," and the club "remains lodged at RFK Stadium" in its 16th MLS season, according to a front-page piece by Goff & O'Connell of the WASHINGTON POST. Despite a record four MLS Cup titles, United long "has endured power outages, a crumbling infrastructure, scheduling conflicts with baseball and football games, antiquated bathrooms and concessions, and the absence of luxury suites." DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne said, "We have a lot more good memories than bad memories in this building, but its time has come and gone, and it’s time to move on." Three years after United "first believed it had a deal for a new stadium in the District, its long-term future remains unclear." The team has made "several attempts at finding a new place to settle in the Washington area, but each has ended in frustration, prompting United to consider other options." Backed by the Maryland Stadium Authority, Baltimore "has reached out to United with an early-stage proposal to build a facility near the city’s baseball and football venues." Payne: "Our name is DC United and we don’t take that lightly, but the Baltimore opportunity is a real one and we have to take it seriously." Payne has discussed "at least four sites with DC officials," and any deal in the District is "likely to require some assistance from the city." DC could "try to lean on the private sector to provide some financing, as it did in creating a gross receipts tax to help finance" Nationals Park, but DC Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Barbara Lang said that "businesses were still irked at having some of the ballpark funds repurposed for other city spending." Payne stressed that United "isn’t looking for the city to fully finance a project but does want to partner with the District on a plan that would include a new stadium elsewhere in the city and also a separate complex on the RFK grounds with multiple fields for team and public use." He dismissed the idea of renovating RFK because he said it would "require very substantial infrastructure changes" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/13).
In K.C., Timothy Finn reported a "big score has already been made" at under-construction Livestrong Sporting Park, which this summer will host the 26th annual Farm Aid concert. The all-day show to benefit U.S. family farmers will be held Aug. 13 at Sporting KC's new stadium, which has a 25,000-person capacity. The Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp "will perform" at this year's concert (K.C. STAR, 5/12).
Real Salt Lake breaks ground on new
TAKING CHARGE: In San Diego, Weisberg & Showley report Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani and former Centre City Development Chair Fred Maas "have lately spoken of incorporating convention space into a new downtown stadium that could be built between Petco Park and the convention center." Fabiani said, "You’ve got to look at the experience in other cities. Certainly the experience in Indianapolis would indicate combining a convention center-related facility with a stadium with a roof is cheaper than building all these things separately." He said that the Chargers' plan "would cost $800 million with a roof, not counting $150 million the city’s downtown redevelopment agency has budgeted for site development at an East Village several blocks east of Petco" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/13).
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION? In Pasadena, Thomas Himes reports the Riverside County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors this week in a unanimous vote "passed a resolution that praised" Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski's "Grand Crossing" NFL stadium plan, while "offering scathing criticisms" of AEG's competing Farmers Field project in downtown L.A. The resolution "adopted many of the same talking points and buzz phrases Roski's camp has offered over the past year." Himes notes "what effect, if any, the Riverside endorsement of officials in a neighboring county will have on a stadium in Los Angeles County is unclear" (PASADENA STAR-NEWS, 5/13).