Ramsey Panel To Hear From Public On Stadium Tax

NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (AP) — Karen Berg, who lives next door to the site of a billion-dollar NFL stadium proposed by the Minnesota Vikings, isn’t sure she wants it in her backyard. But Berg knows for sure she wants to be able to vote on whether her own taxes should go up to help pay for it.

Dozens or people lined up Wednesday to testify at a public hearing of the Ramsey County Charter Commission, an obscure panel with the unlikely power to throw a major obstacle in the Vikings’ stadium dreams. The commission could call a countywide vote on a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for a portion of the $1 billion stadium.

The charter commission won’t decide until November whether to call the vote. But passions already were running high at the first of two public hearings, with residents wearing stickers labeled “Let the people vote” sharing the hearing room with many team supporter decked out in their Vikings purple.

Berg wasn’t sure if she’d address the crowd, but said she has many questions about the plan. “It just seems like it’d make more sense to put it in Minneapolis when they have the restaurants, the hotels, the roads, everything,” she said.

The proposed 0.5 percent sales tax hike in Ramsey County would raise the county’s proposed $350 million share of construction on the $1.1 billion stadium proposal, with the state contributing $300 million through a package of sales taxes on sports memorabilia and other, mostly game-related spending; and the team contributing the rest, an unspecified amount likely to exceed $400 million.

The proposed amendment to Ramsey County’s charter would bar a countywide sales tax for the purpose of contributing to the cost of building the stadium. Supporters of the project expect the Legislature would override that provision, as they did when Hennepin County bypassed a referendum on its own sales tax increase to help build Target Field for the Minnesota Twins.

But any referendum exemption granted by the Legislature is likely to be challenged in court. In addition, influential state lawmakers including House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch recently came out in favor of a Ramsey County vote on any tax hike.

If a majority of the Charter Commission supports the charter vote, it likely wouldn’t be on the ballot until Nov. 2012. Stadium supporters say that delay — and the likelihood that tax-averse voters would defeat the tax — would together deal the proposal a fatal blow.

The current season is the last on the Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome, and by calling that venue no longer profitable team officials have raised worry among fans that they could be wooed to relocate to a city like Los Angeles, currently in aggressive pursuit of a new NFL franchise.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • dan

    Put it to a vote!

  • NO TAX MONEY !!!!

    NO NEW TAXES !!!!!!! L.A. BYE BYE !!!!

  • Vote "yes" to a vote and "no" when you vote.

    My vote: Put it to a vote.


  • travis

    I live in ramsey co… and I am for a half a cent sales tax. Not a problem. Its so easy to say no public money for a private stadium. However, the new stadium wouldn’t be private… the stadium would generates jobs and business… the stadium would genterates new revenue streams… The stadium would pay for itself over time (do not forget the dome has paid for itself and then some). It makes sense. Haven’t a sporting/entertainment complex would be a boom for the economy. I wish the Wilfs would pay more… like half… but I’m for this project.

    • Johnny Rain Cloud

      I agree! It will cost less to build a new stadium for the vikings now instead of the chance of them leaving. If MN wants to bring in a new team, they will require a new stadium built plus the cost of acquiring a team. I would rather help pay for a billion rather than 2 billion. No public vote happened for Target Field, so the same should go for the new Vikings stadium. If a 1/2 cent sales tax increase will break your bank go live somewhere else where the taxes are lower!

    • Me

      Agree!!! MN would lose so much more if we lost the team all together!

  • TellTheTruth

    Dome did not pay for itself, tax payers did. Not new revenue streams, shifted rev streams. Jobs for mostly countractors outside the state. No peremant jobs.

  • JMJ

    Private business should not expect the tax payers to foot any of the bill for their building. and the only jobs it creates are temporary and minimum wage.

  • what!?!

    so many silly comments… the building will be owned by the state and leased back to the vikes…

    • stubby

      tell ol’ ziggy that after he puts up 400 mill, see what he says about that,

  • So what's the problem?

    If you read the comments from informed citizens you’ll see that King Zygi and the Vikings don’t need any money from the taxpayers to fund a new stadium as it’s going to “pay for itself.”

  • Mark

    No new takes Let the owner pay for his stadium that he will make money on. As residents we pay but get nothing in return is that fair.

    Bye Bye Vikings Go to LA or anywhere you havent done anything for the people of mn

  • gen

    I hear the weathers nice in LA, this time of year, vikes

    • SnowFire

      where’s the GOP? when their wealthy friends want tax moneys then they are not oppossing a tax increase. GOP needs to be at these meetings or calling a press conference to stop this tax increase as none of the GOP is going to vote in favor of this as they have all taken a oath against raising taxes and they are in power so it should never get passed.

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