ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak made a pitch to Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday to keep the Minnesota Vikings in downtown Minneapolis, saying a new football stadium could be built more cheaply there than the team’s preferred site in the suburbs.

Rybak emerged from a meeting with Dayton saying that he’d prefer a statewide sales tax increase, but the most realistic way to pay for the city’s share of a new stadium is with a citywide sales tax increase. The hike Rybak envisions would also pay for renovations to the city-owned Target Center, where the NBA Timberwolves play, and for property tax relief.

The idea has some similarities with a proposal Rybak floated last May that would have raised about $200 million for a stadium and about $100 million for the arena. The mayor said he and his staff will spend the coming week putting together a more specific plan for the governor, who hopes to call a special session for Nov. 21.

The push has taken on added urgency because the Vikings’ lease on the Metrodome runs out after this season, and Los Angeles and other cities would love to snare an NFL team.

Dayton told reporters he is still neutral on a site, but that those who favor Minneapolis will have to come up with a more attractive proposal than team owner Zygi Wilf’s plan for a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills, north of St. Paul. The Vikings have made clear that’s their preferred site.

“Minneapolis feels very strongly the Vikings should stay in Minnesota,” Rybak said. “Because we feel so strongly about it we’ve stood back quietly for the past six months and been supportive of the Wilfs’ favorite site. … But it’s also important for us to articulate and articulate more strongly that the best place for the Vikings to be is in downtown Minneapolis. 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.”

Dayton said he plans to unveil his own proposal at the end of next week to give lawmakers a couple weeks to study their options.

Rybak said he prefers the current Metrodome site but didn’t rule out two proposals on the other side of downtown, one where the Minneapolis Farmers Market now stands and another near the Basilica of St. Mary. He said he would oppose a referendum on a sales tax increase, which stadium opponents are pushing in Ramsey County, which includes Arden Hills.

The Vikings, who have long said the Metrodome doesn’t generate enough profits, have teamed up with Ramsey County Board members to push a plan to put a new complex on the site of a former Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills. The county would pay $350 million, likely through a half-cent countywide sales tax increase, while the Vikings would cover about $400 million of the cost plus any overruns. That would require the state to come up with $300 million.

Since Republican legislative leaders say stadium money can’t come from the state’s general fund, the remaining possibilities could include special taxes tied to the game or revenue from expanded gambling, perhaps “racinos” at the suburban Canterbury Park and Running Aces horse tracks, a casino in the Block E mall in downtown Minneapolis, or something else entirely.

Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson, who joined Rybak in meeting with Dayton, said she believes the council would approve a Block E casino. However, expanding gambling would face strong opposition among many legislators and from tribes with reservation casinos. Rybak said he wouldn’t rule out a casino if it delivered some aid to the city’s American Indians.

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

Comments (23)
  1. An average MN citizen says:

    Hey Rybak and Dayton – in case you haven’t heard, Minnesota is sick and tired of the Vikings. They are a disgrace to the uniform, and their ongoing record over 30+ years is nothing short of inept. Please pitch them the way the Northstars were pitched – it would simply be easier and faster to start over again rather than continue to try and make them worthy in any essence.

    And to the ViQueens themselves: You suck, and the entire State cannot stand any of you any longer – losers!

    1. JJG says:

      Average? My right foot! You are an idiot, MN loves the vikings. The vikes are an institution in MN and the NFL. I guarentee you’d be singing a different tune if they were 6-1. Show a little heart and faith in your team. If anything, you’re what’s wrong with the vikings, bandwagon hopping fans.

      1. Steve says:

        Good Lord! What planet are you from?

      2. Guy says:

        Have you spent the last few years in a coma or something?

        You really need to pay attention – most of MN is tired of their greedy owners and crimianal players

  2. Tom says:

    Mayor Rybak is right that it would be cheaper for the Vikings to build in Downtown Mpls. But I have a feeling that Ardin Hills is offering the Vikings some sweet incentives to build in Ardin Hills as anytime someone asks them what if Mpls or whoever came to you with a better than Ardin Hills the Vikings just say unless any plan mentions Ardin Hills don’t bother!

  3. poej says:

    The vikings want a new stadium so they can increase the number of suites the rich folks use at the games. The stadium is going to be built for rich people so that other rich people can enjoy the game more. And it will be done with the majority of the public money coming from the middle class.

  4. worryfree says:

    One thing I haven’t heard much about is the lack of public transportation to the Arden Hills site. But the people who rely on public transportation probably won’t be able to afford a seat in Arden Hills anyways…

    1. jan says:

      They’ll tear up the highways and build light rail and a bicycle lane all the way to Arden Hills and add another tax too pay for it. Wanna bet?

  5. Al says:

    R.T. and the Gov! What a pair!! Hard to understand why Minnesota actually elected these two. Of course they also elected Al “Do Nothing” Franken too.

    1. Tom says:

      @ Al

      I would venture to guess that you are conservative? And I know that unless someone is speaking total non-sense it is beyong conservatives comprehension.

      And I would venture to guess also that you were fan of our last Gov T-Paw, and Sen. Norm Coleman,

  6. Ann says:

    has the Mayor lost his mind? I agree it would be good to keep the Vikings downtown but not by a citywide sales tax. The only way would be to tax the top 1-5%. Many of us who make 50,000 or less.. most of us much less.. can’t even afford to go to the games. If I have to pay for another sales tax I would rather it go for jobs for inner city people who can retrofit houses for saving energy. The DFL is so out of touch by even suggesting that there be a city wide sales tax.
    I spent Sat night down at the Occupation across from City Hall. I saw many young adults and teens who could use some jobs instead of another stadium. There are young people there who are staying there cause the shelters are full and you can hear them talk of their last job or how much they have in their pocket till they can find another job. Shame of Mayor Rybak.

    1. Matt says:

      Maybe those young people should go get an education. The first jobs to leave and the last ones to return are in fields full of uneducated people. Tickets for the next Vikings home game are available online starting at $13. If you can’t afford to attend a Vikings game, you need to seriously consider taking a budgeting class.

      1. Ann says:

        your reasoning is as out of touch as the Mayors. Some of those young people have college degrees and some of trades. Now the home games are 13.00 but I doubt they will be that with a new stadium.
        Many can’t afford to get educated eventhough they really would like to. Some are taking care of their parents or siblings.

        1. Tim says:

          Anyone can get more education! It’s not an issue of being able to afford it, but the reality of it is does the person have the motivation to do it. You can get loans to go to school. It’s probably some of the best money you will spend to get a degree. People who say they can’t afford to get educated are saying I am too lazy to fill out paperwork to get loans to go to school.

  7. j speedbag 64 says:

    too late rybak..maybe we should just pitch you out of office

  8. just sayin says:

    I swear liberals are stupid.

    “Rybak said he wouldn’t rule out a casino if it delivered some aid to the city’s American Indians.”

    Are you Fin kidding??????? Because they deserve it why??? And they don’t have enough from all the OTHER casinos state wide?!

  9. Think about it says:

    If we build a new stadium in Arden hills it will create more jobs than you can think of why can’t people understand, I guess if you don’t I might as well call you Michelle

    1. Walter says:

      When you take money out of sectors of the economy and give it to Zygi for his billion dollar stadium, those sectors become depressed, those tax revenues are lost, those jobs are lost.

      This is a net LOSS for the economy.

      Only a politician will tell you something is good for you while he takes your money.

      Only a fool believes him.

  10. paleotectonics says:

    Zygi can write a check to build this and still have money for mac-n-cheeze. Let him build it himself. The Repubs and Zygi would happily see Minnesota fail, even burn, rather than one rich guy face any risk. Not one red cent of public money in this boondoggle. And Ramsey county? Half-cent sales tax? We live close enough to Hennepin to never spend another damn cent in Ramsey. You are counting on the people who have difficulty getting around to pay for a billionaire’s toy, and for that you are completely inhuman. Open your checkbook Zygi Soprano!

  11. Now we have two zippys says:

    Unbelievable that Rybak would “tax his own people” to build a stadium for Zygi.

    I hope the republicans stick to their insistence on a referendum.

  12. You sold us out Rybak says:

    Unbelievable that Rybak would suggest a tax “on his own people” to support Zygi’s playground. I guess he has no intention of seeking reelection so he’s “pulling a Pawlenty” and sticking his constituents with a sports tax before he leaves office.

    How disappointing.

  13. Walter says:

    The question isn’t where a stadium would be built.

    The question is who the politicians can steal money from, to give to Zygi, and not get thrown out of office.

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