Changes to Anoka board could complicate Vikings stadium prospects
Residents of Anoka County might get to vote after all on a proposed sales tax for a Vikings stadium in their backyard, thanks to a change of leadership on the county board.
Anoka, Minn. — (AP) - It's been a hotly debated point for nearly two years: Should voters get to weigh in on the proposed 0.75 percent countywide sales tax to fund the county's $280 million contribution toward a new stadium that would be built in Blaine?
Or should the final decision rest with county officials, who have been petitioning the Legislature for an exemption to state law requiring a citizen vote on new sales taxes?
After Tuesday's primary election, a referendum looks more likely than it had for some time. County Board Chairwoman Margaret Langfeld, who opposes a public vote, is retiring, and both candidates who advanced in the primary to replace her support a vote.
On Wednesday, another commissioner, Jim Kordiak, who voted for the original no-referendum plan, said he now thinks voters should decide. Kordiak said he now thinks the sales tax should be metrowide or even statewide.
Together with Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, the only member to oppose the original plan, that's three votes out of seven in favor of a public referendum.
A fourth and decisive vote could come after the November election. Commissioner Dennis Berg is facing a challenge from Terri Cleveland, who said she was motivated to run because the board didn't call for a referendum despite evidence that many voters think tax money shouldn't help subsidize a privately owned stadium.
"We're encouraged," said James Hafner of Coon Rapids, a longtime Vikings stadium opponent. "Today, we are in much better shape obviously than when it was 6-1."
He added: "I think Terri Cleveland's got a real shot to knock off Berg."
Vikings officials had a different spin on Tuesday's primary results, noting the large vote margins of Berg and Dick Lang, another stadium supporter.
"They've got to continue to drive a hard bargain, but we're confident we can make this work," said Lester Bagley, the team's vice president for public affairs and stadium development.
The team has also been meeting with Minneapolis officials to discuss options for keeping the Vikings downtown.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)