Reporting Pat Kessler
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A new report on a possible Vikings stadium in Arden Hills is raising significant questions about the cost, about the cleanup and about how long it will take to build it.
Gov. Mark Dayton ordered the 181-page risk analysis from the Metropolitan Council. According to the report, clean up of the Arden Hills site will be more expensive and land acquisition more time consuming, pushing the total stadium cost above the expected $1.1 billion dollars.
The report says higher cleanup costs and land acquisition will push a stadium far past the Vikings preferred 2015 opening.
“We think that is unrealistic. 2016 or 2017 is more realistic,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh. “The cost of delay in the schedule — this is just the inflationary cost of delay — we are projecting about $46 million per year.”
Vikings officials said the report does not present new obstacles that cannot be overcome, including pushing back opening day to 2016.
“It’s important to get it done by 2015,” said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. “If it so happens that time takes us to 2016, we’ll deal with that situation. But I do not believe that the extra time we have as a severe an impact as the report shows.”
Dayton had hoped to call a special stadium session soon, which is unlikely, but the Dayton’s stadium point man said the report brings new clarity to the debate.
“The biggest cloud on this project was the uncertainty,” said Ted Mondale, with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. “Many, many, many of those clouds have been removed by this report.”
The report also questions whether the Vikings or Ramsey County will pay for cost overruns, which could conceivably be $200 million or more. The report added that Ramsey County may not have the tax capacity to pay for the stadium, a charge the county adamantly denies.
Mondale insisted the bleak report is not a back-door effort to slow down Arden Hills and keep the Vikings in Minneapolis.
However, in a written statement, Dayton said he is “willing to support a stadium in either Arden Hills or Minneapolis”– a notion the Vikings owner *himself* emphatically rejected.
“There is no Minneapolis site. We’re working on Arden Hills,” said Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley. “We’re excited about the site — what it can do for our fan experience. We’ve studied many sites over the years, and this is ideal at the right time and with the right partners. We’re very excited about Arden Hills.”