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).