SBD/January 9, 2012/Facilities

Legislative Officials Tell Vikings Arden Hills Unlikely Stadium Site

Dayton expects to arrive at single site and method of funding for stadium by Jan. 24
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration and legislative leaders are “quietly and at times forcefully telling the Minnesota Vikings that the $1.1 billion Arden Hills stadium plan is unlikely to work,” according to sources cited by Baird Helgeson of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. That advice has “prompted team officials to re-examine previously spurned sites in Minneapolis.” Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said Saturday that legislators have “asked the team to explore the other sites, but he maintained that the Arden Hills site is ‘ideal.’" Dayton has “made it plain that he expects to arrive at a single site and method of funding for the stadium by the time the Legislature convenes Jan. 24.” He has “given Minneapolis and Ramsey County until 5 p.m. Thursday to make their best offers -- a move stadium watchers say will highlight Ramsey's lack of financing options.” But Bagley said that the county's plan to “raise the restaurant food and beverage tax by 3 percent is viable.” On Friday, Ramsey County opponents “launched a petition drive to block the county from raising money to finance the stadium.” The case for Arden Hills appears “even tougher at the Capitol, where the Republican-controlled Legislature has firmly opposed tax increases and shown no willingness to let local governments skirt public votes on sales taxes.” Sources said that there “is no grand plan to force the Vikings to build in Minneapolis, just ongoing attempts to constrict the debate to what is considered viable” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/8).

OPPOSING TAXES: In St. Paul, Tad Vezner noted the No Stadium Tax Coalition "is trying to organize a petition to let voters amend the Ramsey County charter to prohibit such public funding without a referendum first being held.” To get a proposed charter amendment on the ballot, the group would “need 5 percent of the county's registered voters, or 14,875 signatures.” The soonest it could appear would be the “next general election, in November.” The proposed amendment would “require the county to get a majority vote from taxpayers to ‘finance a sports facility to be used by a professional team, or to subsidize the operations of a professional sports team’ and would not require a review by the county” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/7).
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