By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings, hoping to flee their longtime home in downtown Minneapolis for a new suburban stadium, got a message Tuesday from an influential state senator: Not so fast.

At a joint hearing of two state Senate committees, team executives and Ramsey County leaders touted their plan to put a $1.1 billion stadium on a former Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills. State lawmakers — who will make the final decision on whether and where to build a stadium — also got a pitch from Minneapolis’ two top officials about three likely cheaper places to build downtown.

Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson also dangled an existing city sales tax to help pay for the stadium — a local share that Ramsey County currently lacks.

One suggested location is the current Metrodome site, which Rybak said city leaders prefer. But he said they’ve been reluctant to discard the other two, which are on the other side of downtown, because Vikings officials won’t meet with them or express a preference.

“The Vikings have chosen, and that’s their choice to back only the Arden Hills site,” Rybak said. “We would like to go back to the table with them.”

That prompted Sen. Julianne Ortman, chairwoman of the Senate Taxes Committee, to encourage Vikings executives to sit down with Minneapolis stadium boosters. “I for one think it’s in your best interest to help us narrow down these sites,” said Ortman, a Republican from Chanhassen.

Lester Bagley, a Vikings vice president, said they would. But he stressed again that team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf are interested in what they see as a greater “fan experience” offered by the 430-acre Arden Hills site, including room for team practice and recreation facilities, adjacent parking and tailgating, and space for related retail, hotel and restaurant development.

“We worked hard to find a local partner, as we were instructed to do,” Bagley said of the team’s agreement with Ramsey County. “We think it’s important we stick with a local partner that sticks with us.”

The three Minneapolis proposals each offer a lower estimated price tag: The plan to build at the Metrodome site is pegged to cost $895 million, while the two proposals west of downtown near the Twins’ Target Field each weigh in at a little more than $1 billion. However, Zygi Wilf has vowed to contribute less money to a Minneapolis stadium than he would to one in Arden Hills.

One issue with the Ramsey County site is that no current plans are on the table for the county to contribute to the total cost. Gov. Mark Dayton last month nixed a plan from Ramsey County Board members to raise $350 million with a half-cent local sales tax increase after legislative leaders told him they lacked the votes to overrule a county referendum widely expected to kill the tax.

With the Vikings pledging $425 million for the Arden Hills stadium, that would leave the state on the hook for as much as $650 million — a figure Ortman said is too high.

“I think that’s going to have a hard time being taken seriously by legislators, given the current economic realities,” Ortman said.

Senators are holding another hearing next Tuesday on how to pay for the stadium, and Ortman told Ramsey County officials to come prepared with new plans for how to contribute to the cost.

In Minneapolis, Rybak said officials could divert existing city sales taxes that fund operations at the Minneapolis Convention Center to help build the Vikings stadium.

Options under consideration for the state share of costs include tax revenue from an expansion of gambling, and a host of game-related sales taxes. The Vikings have suggested diverting income tax collections on both Vikings and visiting-team players, team officials, and sales taxes on purchases in the new stadium.

The hearing at the state Capitol stretched nearly four hours. Some fans pleaded for a stadium solution while other residents decried what they said would be a frivolous use of public dollars in a time of chronic state budget deficits.

The Vikings have pushed for a replacement for the Metrodome for nearly a decade. Bagley said the Vikings trail the NFL in nearly every measure of stadium revenue, and that the Metrodome is no longer capable of hosting a Superbowl or an NCAA Final Four tournament.

The team’s push has escalated in recent months, with their Metrodome lease due to expire at the end of the season. Bagley said Tuesday that the Vikings would not sign a lease extension unless a deal for a new stadium was in place.

Sen. Barb Goodwin, a Democrat whose suburban district includes the Arden Hills site, asked Bagley if that meant the owners would move the team to another city.

“Not at all,” Bagley said. “We’re just saying we won’t have a lease.”

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

Comments (58)
  1. Ordinary Guy says:

    Unless the Vikings find it easier to buy politicians than the public, a stadium plan will have to engage the taxpayers in an integrated plan of converging interests that serve real needs beyond entertainment. For this, design input from business, transportation, park and recreation, etc., is needed to surround the stadium seating with indoor 365-day service to the community that does not already exist. Arden Hills is too isolated to garner that sort of converging interest and support.

    1. Winning! says:

      4 games at the bank, 4 at the dome each season. Done! Nothing else for Ziggy.

  2. Fred says:

    Isolated ? From what? Downtown sucks trying to get and park down there. You know not what you speak about.

  3. G Dog says:

    Cram another stadium into downtown Mpls, or put it on a couple of hundred acres with parking lots to tailgate.

    Pretty easy choice IMO.

    1. Ordinary Guy says:

      Arden Hills is convenient to Arden Hills. Digging up that solvent-soaked dust and ground water on acreage of that size sounds tough and filthy. How about unexploded munitions scattered about those hills? Using downtown ramps full-time is a better alternative and fixing the annoying traffic problems in the process is quite more reasonable to the commuting public.

      As a multiple-sport center, staff and resources can be planned and shifted as required, without duplication. A tailgating lot to the north of the site can’t be that hard to plan, can it?

      1. MARK says:

        ughhh-Mpls can fall off the face of the earth as far as I’m concerned- I’ve been a season ticket holder for 20 years- I HATE MINNEAPOLIS!!!!!!!!!!!
        Those “traffic problems” in Arden Hills need to be fixed ANYWAY!!!

        “:As a multiple-sport center, staff and resources can be planned and shifted as required, without duplication. A tailgating lot to the north of the site can’t be that hard to plan, can it?” If that is so- then WHY hasn’t it been done already at the METRODUMP????!?!?!?

        We are going to get screwed AGAIN by Mpls who lured them downtown last time- Baseball WORKS in downtown- football DOES NOT

        1. Ordinary Guy says:

          A lot of people don’t share your enthusiasm for the game, but still, mall-walking seniors, bicyclers, transit and rail riders, shoppers, business people, and car commuters all need the traffic and convenience improvements that could be incorporated and allow them to buy into it and get it done. Yea, rah, rah! to your heart’s content, but it still won’t get it done. You share it with all the stakeholders, and you’ve got a shot.

  4. G Dog says:

    Just curious, Mike – how do you propose to replace the $21 million in yearly income taxes that the Vikings pay if they leave. You going to foot the bill?

    You must be a GOP millionaire.

    1. Guy says:

      How about we use the proposed GAMBLING revenue from downtown casinos?

      Instead of using to pay for a Purple Palace; it goes into the tax base.

      And the casinos can’t threaten to leave the state every few years; either.

      1. AntiTeabagger says:

        Exactly, look at Iowa and what they did with the Riverboats and casinos there. Morons in Omaha and Nebraska voted it out and guess what, all the Nebraskans go spend millions in Iowa at the casinos!

    2. frozenrunner says:

      G Dog. Usually you are a little smarter than this.
      650 million at an aa bond rating. 21 million a year will never pay for a stadium.
      The owner doesn’t live here, many of the players do not live here off season so therefore they do not spend their money here. Spending their money is what a lot of athletes do. If the majority of the money that was spent on tickets, and other Vikings related stuff was spent on local entertainment, the money doesn’t leave.
      People can support a stadium, but you cannot win it on an economics argument. Build it because like an art garden, theater or the like it adds to the community. Personally, I think they should build about a 75000 seat stadium so they can find out how cheap the locals are and be able to host a Super Bowl.

      1. travis says:

        almost true. However, you missed something. When something (a stadium) adds to a community, people are more apt to spend money in that community. 21 million a year is just part of the direct impact the dome has on the economy. Ask a bar owner near the sight if having a stadium brings him/her more money. A stadium is a big log on our local economic fire… if that makes sense.

        1. frozenrunner says:

          Huberts was the only bar that sprung up by the metrodome. In Arden Hills with parking by the stadium people will get in their cars and leave. The Mermaid will see very little change in business

  5. NO TAX MONEY !!!!! says:


    1. Me says:

      WHY MUST YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS?!?! It doesn’t get your point across any better.

    2. James says:

      My property taxes went down 5% without my house value going down. Boo Yah! Enjoying living in Anoka County! Builid a vikes stadium in arden hills and build it the right way to host more than just football.

  6. GO TO L.A. NO TAXES !!! says:



    NO public money from any source for a new stadium.

    Pay your own way, Zygi, or take your losing team out of Minnesota. We have more important things to deal with than lining your pockets.

  8. Kevin says:

    Oh my….such anger twoards the evil 1%er the Zigimiester……so instead of being confused and not showering inorder to protest a Bachman book signing…..shouldnt those whacky Occupy MN 99%ers go and protest this corporate greed? Oh thats right….not on there liberal….casturated agenda…..

    1. IMA POS Kevin says:

      So nice the state paid for your education, not on their liberal would be correct. Where would one protest stadium building?

  9. MIKE says:


    1. Paul Bunyan says:


      1. Foul Ball says:


  10. NO TAX MONEY !!!!! says:

    YES !!!

    1. Jake says:

      Wait. No or Yes? I’m so confused.

  11. Stop and Think says:

    Enough, no more tax money for anything that adds to the quality of life here. No parks, No Guthrie, no Arts, no schools sports, no, no, no. This is entertainment, but if we take away any anti-stadium persons entertainment they will scream from the highest hill. Everyone supports what they like and I just happen to like professional sports. And some of you like walking your dog in a nice park, well you are welcome, I am glad that I helped support something that added to your quality of life. As for you art people, does not walking outside show you the most beautiful piece of art that has ever been created? No you say, well I guess you’re welcome too. I am glad that I helped to finance something that increased your quality of life. Do you get the jist here? This is not all about Ziggy, this is about quality of life for some people. Stop being hypocrites.

    1. Mark Too says:

      It’s good to see someone take a non-selfish stance and generously help others. I applaud you for that. That being said, I don’t believe it is the government’s place to provide / improve the quality of ones life. I believe it is the governments responibilty to allow me the ability to improve my quality of life, if I should choose to do so.

    2. AD says:

      The Guthrie used $25M in public funding. The Vikings are demanding a BILLION DOLLARS.

      Slight difference there.

      1. Jill says:

        Not too much difference.

        In both cases the government has decided you are too stupid to spend your own entertainment dollars and has decided to do it for you.

        Both are wrong.

        1. travis says:

          just so you know… and I don’t want facts to get in your way… but the current solutions for raising the public portion of this bill, which is not a billion dollars, are all volunatary. There is no imposed tax on anyone… or anything. Rather, if you yourself make the choice to buy some pull tickets, part of that money would go to a stadium. The government won’t be forcing anyone to pay for this… nor forcing anyone to gamble to pay for this.

  12. b says:

    Minnesota has two choices build a stadium with taxpayer money or let the vikings leave like LA who is looking for a team for the stadium that is already in the plans so my point is the republicans are the ones blocking the stadium because they dont want to pay more taxes when they already get tax breaks for working chick jobs (office job- Wear suit and tie) but when the vikings leave the state are the republicans going to cover the millions of dollars lost for not having a the vikings in the state and all the local businesses and even corporations who make money and depend on the vikings to bring in business i dont think so the republicans always find a way to destroy something than the blame it on someone else so all you guys who work chick jobs fork over the bill stop complaining that your not going to pay for zygi’s playground because which ever option you pick your going to pay the price ripple effects.

  13. Pavel says:

    Minneapolis – Right one!! Someone is thinking. Now if the Vikings leadership can quit thinking of lining their pockets they might see the downtown possibilities!

  14. Chose to move = best choice of all. says:

    The best choice would be anywhere except Minnesota.

  15. Boot the Loosers says:

    Give the Viks the boot to LA and put a casino in the dome.
    That is the best solution. according to the article they have already decided to build a place for the losers.. This should be put to a vote after all it is OUR money they are spending.

  16. Get educated says:

    The liberals are running MN?? Since when? As far as I’m aware, the republicans have the majority right now. P.s If you are going to insult someone, use spell check. People might actually believe you are some what intelligent.

  17. Sean says:

    The problem isn’t WHERE to put a stadium. This is a bully-negotiating tactic.

    They are assuming the state is going to give them money. The state should not.

    There are no economic benefits to taxpayer subsidized stadiums. Anyone who tells you different is lying.


  18. mark says:

    As aconservative myself & a stadium supporter- maybe YOU should do what you want Ziggy to do.
    The Vikings return about $50 MILLION per year into the state’s general fund moron- taxes will go UP if they leave because we can’t just cut that $ from the bidget without everyone crying

    1. Street Wise says:

      Didn’t you read the articles in a previous post?

      There are NO, NADA, NIL, ZIP economic benefits to publicly funded stadiums.

      1. Travis says:

        There are tens of thosands of people downtown on gameday. If one of them buys a beer at a local bar before or after the game … thats an economic impact. I bet more than one person buys more than a beer before and after the game. I’ve lived in Saint Paul for a while and I have seen downtown change. Downtown Saint Paul used to be dull… and it still somewhat is, except for one area: west 7th street by the excel energy center. That area used to be horrible and dead. You cannot tell me that building a stadium there did not benefit the local economy..

    2. NO STADIUM says:

      Name calling just proves one’s ignorance.

      $50 million per year is chump change compared to the $5.5 BILLION the state is in debt. Put the state’s contribution where it is needed—-lower taxes, improve education, etc.

    3. frozenrunner says:

      Inflation, g dog and many others say 21 million, you say 50 million. You label yourself a conservative. To borrow someone else’s line CONservative liar and namecaller

    4. Uh, I don't think so pal. says:

      Wow, you sure yanked THAT number from where the sun don’t shine!

    5. you're a funny one says:

      Did you mean bidet?

    6. Travis says:

      I am a democrat who’s been saying the same thing. If we remove the vikings (and I guess the timberwolves too) where do we come up with a new source of revenue? If we pull reasons for people to go out and voluntarily spend money, where to we then get a new revenue stream?

      1. frozenrunner says:

        People will spend money wherever. What is trendy now will be a ghostown later. Just look at Riverplace and St. Anthony main. Hot spots fall out of favor. In terms of the revenue, most people post 20 million, nice you can make up a number like 50 million

  19. Stadiumwithnohomes says:

    If you admire the top 1%, you smell like a fart, and please take YOUR FARTS with you when you go, Thanks.

  20. Drop Kick says:

    Get rid of football, hockey, and other WAR Games.
    Minnesota has enough bullies.

  21. PT Barnum says:

    There’s a Minnesota Vikings Fan born every minute.

  22. LBJHHH says:

    The Vikings have been in the south Metro, and Down town Mpls. Maybe its time to look at the North Metro for achange. If the Tribes want to keep the State out of the caseno business, maybe they can kick in the funds the taspayers would have to. If the State goes into the Caseno business then one of the things they can eliminate is the Income tax.

  23. no way says:

    dont the Senate committees have other things more important to do!!!

  24. BKinMN says:

    OMG……seriously. As the great Governator of CA. would say, STOP WHINING. The stadium will be built in Arden Hills, and the Dome will be imploded, to make way for the new WNBA Stadium,and the current WORLD CHAMPION, Lynx. Am I the only one that sees this??? Tongue & cheek, of course, for all you DB’s that think you know everything, about everything, and want the Vikes to leave. You leave…..then you won’t have to be burdened, with worrying about where your frickin’ .5/day goes. I give credit to those that do their homework, but to those that just spout……SAVE IT!!!!!!!!!! You’re probably suckin’ off of Uncle Sam’s tit already.

  25. Andy says:

    If the Vikes could beat other teams like they beat their wives and girlfriends… Go Vikes! (and take the Timberwolves with you)

    1. lol says:

      LOL, Go Pack Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. DougT says:

    Put it in Minneapolis and tax the snot out of the citys residents. They like taxes there. They still believe in ‘good progressive government” They are dumb enough to drink the Kool-Aide and like it.

    Then the rest of us will be left alone and still have a foot ball team – Its a win -win moment.

  27. bud says:

    Suburrbs like North Dakota or South Dakota or iowa

  28. Jill says:

    Hey Dayton, you are against bullying?

    Wilf and his thugs are mugging the people of Minnesota and are going to shake them down for hundreds of millions of dollars.

    If you support this, YOU are the bully.

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