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The Big Story Blog: January 12, 2012 Archive

Thursday 1/12/2012
Vikings stadium endgame?

Posted at 8:46 AM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Hed

All plans for a Vikings football stadium are due to Gov. Mark Dayton by 5 p.m. today Are the pieces finally falling into place to build a new stadium partially funded by the public?

A final path to a new Vikings stadium?

Posted at 8:53 AM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

20111115_farmers-market-stadium4_33.jpg
(Vikings at the farmer's market?)

"The proposal for a new, multi-purpose stadium is dead and the reason is that taxpayers are unwilling to sign a blank check. We're interested in having the Vikings stay. But the question is: What is the price?"

Who said it: Amy Koch? Tim Pawlenty? John Marty? Mark Dayton? No. The words came from St. Paul Sen. John Chenoweth - nearly 40 years ago -- as lawmakers and Vikings team owners wrangled over building what would become the Metrodome.

Read through the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission history of the Metrodome and it's stunning how the current rhetoric over a new stadium matches up almost exactly with the same battles in the 1970s, including the dire predictions of Gov. Wendell Anderson in 1975 that the Vikings (and Minnesota Twins) would leave without passage of stadium legislation to replace Metropolitan Stadium.

Here we are again. Today is Dayton's deadline for stadium plans. The Vikings Metrodome lease has expired. The vexing issue: How to pay for the public portion of a new stadium.

Despite more than a decade of starts and stops, there's reason to believe that this is the beginning of the end in the stadium funding wars.

There's support for a stadium and support for at least the idea of using gambling to pay for it among the governor and new Senate leadership. The Vikings' lease is up. There are sites -- here and in California -- competing for the business.

All the stadium proposals are due to Gov. Dayton by the end of Thursday. He plans to "act to make one of them a reality" in the upcoming legislative session.

"I think the facts will speak for themselves in large part," Dayton said last week. "I think one (proposal) will show probably to be a better option than the other or the others, and that will facilitate everyone's decision."

With one plan, the battle over financing and votes can finally take place. And the question Chenoweth asked nearly 40 years ago about the Metrodome -- what is the price? -- can finally be put up for discussion on a new stadium.

Got a plan? It's due to the governor by 5 p.m.

It's game day on Vikings stadium plans

Posted at 9:12 AM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

shak2.jpg
(MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

Just a few months ago, Arden Hills in Ramsey County was the only viable site for a Vikings stadium. Now as we wait for all the proposals to come to the governor by 5 p.m. today, there are at least five options up for discussion.

Minneapolis has jumped in with three ideas that seem to have eclipsed Arden Hills. Shakopee even threw in a plan yesterday to build a stadium on a parcel near ValleyFair amusement park. And, as MPR News reporter Tim Nelson writes, Ramsey County officials say their plan is not dead yet.

More stories:

A quick look at the Vikings stadium proposals

Posted at 9:55 AM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

20110509_vikings-stadium-rendering_33.jpg

We're posting some questions and short answers this morning on the Vikings stadium debate and what happens next, just to keep everyone up to speed.

Q: What are the proposals?

A: The Vikings say Arden Hills in the northern suburbs remains their preference. This looked like the best chance a couple months ago, with owner Zygi Wilf committing up to $425 million for a $1.1 billion stadium, Ramsey County kicking in $350 million through a half cent sales tax hike and the state scrounging up $300 million.

Things unraveled when lawmakers insisted Ramsey County put the sales tax to a vote. Rather than face the inevitable no vote, Ramsey County officials pulled back. The plan is still there but the state would have to come up with about $650 million.

Minneapolis has stepped in with stadium proposals for three sites, two near Target Field and one that would tear down the Metrodome and rebuild on the spot. These would run between $900 million to $1 billion.

The Vikings in recent weeks have warmed to the Minneapolis sites, though they say they wouldn't put up as much of their own money to fund them. They also argue costs for the Metrodome site would run nearly $70 million more than current projections.

Stadium boosters in Shakopee unveiled a last minute bid to build a Vikings stadium, but that's more than a long shot at this point.

What's on the table to pay for a Vikings stadium?

Posted at 10:15 AM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

vikings_stadium-rendering22221_33.jpg

We're posting some questions and short answers this morning on the Vikings stadium debate and what happens next, just to keep everyone up to speed.

Q: What's on the table to pay the public's portion?

A: It's easier to say what's off the table: general fund money. That's been taken off completely. And given what happened in Ramsey County, a local tax increase without a voter referendum won't happen either.

Practically speaking, gambling is the only way to raise the cash needed and win the votes required. Officials have kicked around electronic pull tabs, a Vikings lottery game and a casino at the Block E entertainment area in Minneapolis. But racinos -- slots at the region's two horse racing tracks -- are the most palatable idea.

Advocates say racinos would raise more than $140 million a year, enough to pay for the public's portions of a Vikings stadium and help pay for public schools.

The idea got a big boost recently when Senate Republicans named Dave Senjem of Rochester as their new leader. He's been a big supporter of a Vikings stadium and has backed racino legislation.

Still detractors hate the idea of paying for a stadium with gambling money, contending that gambling does long term damage to many Minnesota families. Minnesota's Indian casinos also oppose the racino idea and are a powerful poltical force at the Legislature.

Next steps on Vikings stadium?

Posted at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

vikes4444.jpg

We're posting some questions and short answers this morning on the Vikings stadium debate and what happens next, just to keep everyone up to speed.

Q: What happens next?

A: All the stadium proposals are due to Gov. Dayton by the end of today. He plans to "act to make one of them a reality" in the upcoming legislative session.

"I think the facts will speak for themselves in large part," Dayton said last week. "I think one (proposal) will show probably to be a better option than the other or the others, and that will facilitate everyone's decision."

While the deadline for plans is 5 p.m., we may get an update at 1 p.m. Dayton's added a press conference to announce a new transportation initiative and will no doubt get a question about the Vikings.

Official: Hennepin County won't chip in for Vikes

Posted at 12:03 PM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

Hennepin County officials were key to the building of a new home for Minnesota Twins baseball a few years ago with Target Field. But don't expect the county to help with funding for a new Vikings football stadium.

The Star Tribune reports:

The local government most responsible for the Minnesota Twins ballpark, Hennepin County, won't be among the contestants for the football prize, County Board Chair Mike Opat confirmed Wednesday.

Opat engineered the county's efforts to finance and build Target Field, but he said that he has no plans -- not yet, anyway -- to gun for the Vikings stadium.

It's the same position he's held for eight months, since he announced last May that Hennepin County wouldn't be pursuing a stadium deal. At the time he cited budget tightening, legislative ambivalence and lack of time as reasons to step down from the chase.

Ramsey County ups ante in Vikings stadium push

Posted at 1:15 PM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

Ramsey County officials are sweetening the deal for a proposed Vikiings stadium in Arden Hills with and more local money to help pay for the project in Arden Hills via a proposed three percent drink and food tax, says MPR News reporter Tim Nelson.

Nelson writes:

The stadium proposal signed by county board chairman Rafael Ortega says the county will commit to a $375 million contribution to a proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. That's a $25 million increase over the deal the county initially reached with the team last May.

In addition, the county's bid includes an updated agreement with the team. In it, the Vikings put their proposed contribution at $425 million, up from their initial $407 million dollar offer. The team had mentioned the improved offer before, but put it in writing with the county's bid today.

It's the first of what are expected to be several stadium bids submitted to Gov. Mark Dayton today, ahead of his stadium deadline. Spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci says he will be looking them over in the next few days.

Ramsey County officials proposed the food and drink tax last month. They argue that, unlike the sales tax, the food and drink levy doesn't require a referendum.

A referendum "could be forced through petition," Nelson adds, "but it isn't clear if that could be done in time, or retroactive if the deal is done before a ballot."

Here's the Ramsey County plan:

2012 RAMCO Stadium Proposal

Minneapolis pitches Metrodome site for new Vikes stadium

Posted at 1:48 PM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

In their final pitch to Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis officials today reiterated that building a new stadium for the VIkings on the current Metrodome sight is the best solution. They also argued it could be done without any additional local taxes and that Minneapolis would also kick in $6.5 million a year for operations and maintenance.

Here's the cover letter to the city's proposal.

We are pleased to present Downtown East, the site of the current Hubert H.Humphrey Metrodome, as our preferred location for a new multi-purpose "People's Stadium" where the Minnesota Vikings will play its home games.

While we are open to and engaged in continued discussions with the Vikings on the Linden Avenue site, we believe that Downtown East remains the best, lowest-cost option for a new Vikings stadium. In 2003, the Minneapolis City Council endorsed the Metrodome site as the City's preferred site for a new stadium.

That continues to be our preferred location. Minneapolis' Downtown East proposal is the best option for Vikings fans, the Minnesota Vikings, other collegiate, amateur and civic users and Minnesota taxpayers:

The best location. Downtown East is a superior location to Arden Hills: it provides the widest variety of affordable amenities to the public and presents the fewest impediments to immediate development.

No new taxes. Minneapolis has a workable financing plan, valid for either Minneapolis site, that uses existing taxes to fund a portion of stadium operating costs and finance a portion of capital costs. In other words, our plan relies on no new taxes.

Cash on the table. The Minneapolis proposal is the only one that puts immediate cash on the table.

Secures three statewide facilities at once. In addition to providing for a true "People's Stadium" for at least the next three decades, our plan also secures the long-term future of two other revenue-generating facilities of statewide significance: Target Center and the Minneapolis Convention Center.

On the local tax question, Minneapolis officials say they would shift existing Convention Center taxes toward the stadium.

Here's the entire proposal:

Minneapolis Stadium Proposal

Vikes say they'll back stadium where legislature wants

Posted at 2:41 PM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

Vikings officials say they are still committed to building a new stadium at the Arden Hills site in Ramsey County but that discussions are continuing with Minneapolis and that building on the current Metrodome site is 'workable.'

The reports, via KSTP's Tom Hauser and WCCO-TV's Pat Kessler, pretty much reiterate what the Vikings have been saying the past few days.

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley made the comments as he spoke to reporters this afternoon about the new football stadium proposals submitted by Minneapolis, Shakopee and Ramsey County today.

Hauser is tweeting updates from the press conference as is Kessler.

#Vikings say team will support stadium wherever legislature decides to build it.
Jan 12 via Twitter for iPhoneFavoriteRetweetReply

Bagley says Minneapolis stadium discussions continue. Calls Metrodome site "workable" & Linden Ave site "intriguing."
Jan 12 via SeesmicFavoriteRetweetReply

Dayton says he may endorse a Vikes stadium site

Posted at 3:56 PM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

Gov. Mark Dayton this afternoon told reporters he'll spend the weekend reviewing the various proposals received today to build a new Vikings stadium and he may back one of the proposals if he's sees one stand out.

Here's the latest from MPR News political reporter Tim Pugmire:

Gov. Mark Dayton says he plans to spend the weekend reviewing Vikings stadium proposals and will then share his opinion on the competing sites next week.

Dayton set today as the deadline for submitting stadium plans. He told reporters that he might endorse a site, if one stands out as the desirable and feasible. Dayton said it's still up to Republican legislative leaders to decide whether to take up a stadium bill during the 2012 session, and the DFL governor said he's been getting mixed signals recently.

"If it's going to get just torpedoed at the end of the session and not even be something people are going to want to vote on because they're worried about how it affects their re-election, their job rather thousands of other peoples jobs, then let's admit that at the beginning and move on."

Vikings officials have said that their preferred site is Arden Hills. Ramsey County officials increased their proposed share of the Arden Hills proposal to $375 million.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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