Ramsey County Moves Forward With Vikes Stadium Talks

By Caroline Lowe, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A county commission voted Tuesday to start talks with the Minnesota Vikings and state lawmakers over the possibility of building a new football stadium in a suburb northeast of Minneapolis.

The proposed site for the new stadium is a former Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills, a city about 10 miles from the Vikings’ current stadium, the Metrodome, in downtown Minneapolis.

The Ramsey County Board’s 6-1 vote makes it the first local government to express interest in hosting a new stadium as the Vikings prepare for a push at the Capitol to replace the aging Metrodome.

Team officials say the Dome is outdated and no longer profitable as an NFL venue. With at least four sites under consideration, Ramsey County commissioners said the jobs and economic development that would come with a new stadium would outweigh the cost to county taxpayers, who would likely have to shoulder some of the construction costs.

“We have to create our own opportunities,” said County Commissioner Rafael Ortega. “This would create many jobs, which is critical. This is an opportunity to get a lot of folks hired.”

Vikings executives have toured the site, and team vice president Lester Bagley praised Tuesday’s vote as a positive step. But he was quick to caution that the Vikings have not yet committed to any site, and Bagley has previously noted that building at the current Metrodome site would be the most cost-efficient approach. Two other sites, one near the Minnesota Twins stadium and another in a suburb northwest of Minneapolis, are also under consideration.

The Vikings are seeking a state financing package that would require the team to pay for no more than a third of the cost of a new stadium. A new stadium would likely cost at least $700 million, and Gov. Mark Dayton said last week he’d like to see the team pay up to half the total bill.

The 2011 season is the last on the Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome, and team officials have vowed not to play there after that. That’s raised fears the team could move to another city seeking an NFL franchise.

Some residents say the NFL is a hugely profitable business, and that the public should not be forced to subsidize stadiums for its private use.

Greg Copeland, a St. Paul resident, interrupted Tuesday’s commission meeting by saying if the county tries getting taxpayers to shoulder even part of the cost of building a stadium, he will try to overturn the decision through a referendum.

“Zygi, take your team and go somewhere else, or else write a check and build a stadium yourself,” said Copeland, referring to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.

Jack Welsch’s family has owned a tavern across the street from the former Army ammunition plant for more than 50 years.

“It is all cleaned up and ready to go. I think it would be a great spot,” said Welsch, owner of Welsch’s Big Ten Tavern.

Residents of a trailer park next door were mixed in their reaction. Some agreed with opponent Copeland but others thought it could mean an economic boom for the area.

Ron McCoy is a Packers fan who would love to watch his favorite football team play close by.

“I think it would be great. Minnesota needs jobs and everything,” said McCoy.

Others echoed, including Lori Richardson who called the former munitions site an “eyesore.”

“Nice to have something worthwhile over there,” she said.

Ramsey County officials stressed that Tuesday’s vote did little more than get them a seat at the negotiating table. They said the vote will allow the county to more thoroughly study the Arden Hills site and to address questions about pollution, infrastructure and other concerns.

Commissioner Janice Rettman, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the plan is too far-reaching.

“We’re making a decision here on limited information and a dream,” Rettman said.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • M

    Let’s get this done MN. Like it or not, public funds will be used, so get used to it!

    • hm

      Watch out Ramsey County. Anoka County got burned big-time by slick Ziggy when trying to make a Vikings stadium.

    • Bye Bye Vikings

      Bite Me!!!

  • SB

    Just think of the money it would bring to MN it would potentially be a site for a super bowl:)

    • Phil

      Will we all get a share of that potential money? I don’t need a long drawn out answer. I know already.

  • ItAllCosts$

    you’ll get a share when you don’t have to pony up for more taxes or cut services in the future. Everyone pays a little now, and you pay less later.

    It’ll be cheaper to keep pro-football than it will to get it back. Do you doubt that there will be a push to get it back when that revenue is lost (both direct to business and tax revenue)?

  • Bob

    Racino is how part of it should be paid for!!! Look at the money we are losing by the tribes not paying taxes! All the states around us get Indian money from tribes casinos! Wake up and demand we get these millions of dollars! Let’s have a choice , the politicians must be getting paid off.

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  • B

    The Wilf family needs to step up and pay a good chunk of the new stadium if taxpayers have to pay shouldnt the stadium belong to the state and the people of this state not the Wilf family. He makes his team worth more money buy screwing the taxpayers.

  • Uncle Bud

    Bob, you nailed it EXACTLY.The Indian casinos are ripping us off, without paying up!!!!!

  • Christopher David

    This is all a gigantic waste of money. While I appreciate Commissioner Rettman’s principled vote, I am appalled at the overall decision of the Ramsey County Board. Visit http://www.novikingstax.com to help us stop this waste of precious tax dollars!

  • Richard in Minneapolis

    I’ve just studied the Ammunition Plant site on Google Earth. The lack of any meaningful public transit tie-in makes this site totally unsuitable.

    The Northstart and Hiawatha lines both dead-end at Target Center and Target Field – an ideal arrangement. Any new Vikings stadium needs to have a similar tie-in.

    • Public transportation?

      Oh god, really? We can’t have a stadium without public transportation? Just an FYI the new BILLION dollar cowboys stadium that just had the SuperBowl doesn’t have public transportation, neither does beloved Lambeau field or a majority of stadiums in the NFL.

      I don’t support tax money for a stadium, and I definitely don’t for adding another pointless waste of money rail line to the north metro. AND I LIVE IN THE NORTH METRO… Stop wasting my tax money.

  • Peter in Ramsey County

    I have no problem with tax dollars being used to partially fund a Vikings stadium. Tax dollars were used to build the new Twins stadium and the new Guthrie. I do not not like baseball and have no plans on ever using the Guthrie. So personally I would love for my tax dollars to go towards something I support. Also I would think in the long term it would be cheaper for me to do whatever it takes to keep the team in Minnesota. If the team moves out of Minnesota we would lose the current tax dollars we received off concession sales and we would lose the income taxes that those multi-million dollar athletes contribute to the sate each year. So the sate might raise taxes on all of us anyway to make up for the taxes we lose if the team moves.

  • Sandy

    Please read the article at atsdr.cdc.gov on this site.

  • Patti

    Will the residents be heard? Seems a steam roller is happening. What about the issues surrounding the development? Traffic, enviromental issues, and the effect on the surrounding area. Are we forgetting that people and nature reside in the same area?

    • Emily

      I am appalled that Ramsey County wants the stadium to go there. I, too, think we, the residents should be heard. I just bought a house nearby and love looking at the widlife. The “eyesore” that was described in the article above only reflects a tiny portion of that land. The rest is trees, hills, and wildlife. Where will the wildlife go? To the surrounding areas where people live which will mean overcrowding and potential for lots of accidents (i.e. deer/car related accidents). I am upset that we (the residents of this community) were not even thought of by our local government. We live here and should have a say in this, too!

  • Lee L.

    “Suburb Northeast of Minneapolis”. Hello, they’re called the TWIN cities for a reason. There’s two of them. Arden Hills is clearly a Saint Paul suburb.

  • Goob

    It ain’t gonna go there and everyone knows it. Don’t WASTE any time with this mularkey!!!

  • Billy

    Black people smell

  • lee l.

    And race trolls are functionally literate.


    I wonder if those who are apposed to the Vikings stadium were also opposed to the $75M we spent on the Guthrie Theater. At least the Vikings stadium adds revenue, jobs and a sense of pride. The Guthrie added dept, so that’s something.

    • PayUpZygi

      i agree with this comment 100%

      and i will add this: open up your wallet and pay up Zygi!! leaving 2/3 of the bill to the taxpayers is unacceptable in my opinion. i could live with half.

  • lee l.

    Ignoring the blatantly oligarchist troll, public transport would not be an issue. Bus service will increase to where there is a need without laying new rail. Thats why we switched to buses from trollies a while ago.

  • Pester 'em 'til they pay

    I live in Hennepin county and am paying for the Twins, which I don’t want to do. So, if Ramsey county wants to pay for the Vikings, go ahead – just don’t involve any other MN taxpayers.

    Wilf – pay for your own stuff like the rest of the employed people do – or get out of MN.

  • Bye Bye Vikings

    lets do what the pack did and make the vikings a public owened team and cut ziggy out

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