Reporting Bill Hudson
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the ongoing game to win support for a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium, it’s fourth and long. On Monday, the city of Minneapolis wanted to make certain it’s not left on the sidelines.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and city council president Barb Johnson spent nearly an hour with Gov. Mark Dayton. The two are making the city’s case for keeping the team playing downtown.
After the nearly hour-long meeting at the state capitol, the mayor told reporters, “We believe we have at least one and probably three great options that are all more viable than the current plan that’s on the table.”
That current plan, which is favored by the Vikings, calls for the construction of a $1.1 billion stadium complex at the site of the former Army ammunition facility in Arden Hills. The team is partnered with Ramsey County which is offering to pay for the county’s $300 million share through a countywide sales tax increase.
But Rybak said the Minneapolis proposals would be about $200 million cheaper than the Arden Hills proposal.
The city’s three options include a total rebuilding of the team’s present home at the Metrodome. That $895 million project was unveiled by the city last spring, but immediately rejected by the Vikings.
Two other possible stadium sites include property at the farmer’s market site near Glenwood and Lyndale avenues and private property now owned by Xcel Energy at its service center on Chestnut Street north of the Minneapolis Basilica of St. Mary.
Rybak said all of the plans would include a major renovation of the city-owned Target Center, home to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Paying for the city’s plans could include a citywide sales tax increase or perhaps, tapping into revenues generated by a proposed casino on Block E.
“Because we are the entertainment center of the region, capturing the revenues that are generated in our city are really important to us and this would be another source of revenue,” said council president Johnson.
But the Vikings seem lukewarm to the proposals at best. Team spokesman, Lester Bagley said, “there’s one viable plan on the table and it’s Arden Hills.”
Meantime, Dayton made it clear that he wishes to remain “site neutral.” He wants to see all stadium proposals on his desk by Nov. 7.
“I want what’s best for Minnesota. I want the best site, I want to keep the Vikings here. I want it be a people’s stadium,” said Dayton. “I want the economic development opportunity whether that’s in Arden Hills or in Minneapolis.”
The governor will call a special session for legislators to consider stadium legislation on Nov. 21, if the four leaders of both houses can agree on the terms and scope of the three-day session.