Developer renews pitch for downtown Vikings stadiumby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — The developers who brought the Twins across downtown Minneapolis to Target Field say they're ready to make another pitch for the Minnesota Vikings. With less than a week before a crucial vote in St. Paul on the team's current plan to build a stadium in Arden Hills, they're hoping to come from behind in Minneapolis.
The Vikings rivalry with division foe Green Bay is well known. But the NFL's stiffest competition in Minnesota right now isn't on the football field, it's the dueling bids to host the Vikings after their lease on the Metrodome runs out.
The team settled on a site. reaching a deal in May with Ramsey County for a stadium in Arden Hills.
But Minneapolis backers are asking for time and a change of game plan. Bruce Lambrecht was the real-estate developer behind Target Field.
He's proposed the Farmer's Market site for the Vikings in the past. But he and his partners say they have a better way to sort out the stadium debate.
"I've got an idea. Let's look at the MAC."
That's the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
Lambrecht explained a "Minnesota Entertainment Commission" could set up a similar organization for all big league sports in Minnesota and settle the football turf battle. That's similar to what the MAC did when Wold-Chamberlain and Holman fields were vying to host the Twin Cities' air traffic before World War II. The state created the MAC in 1943.
"Lets compare that to sports and entertainment facilities. What are the similarities? Well, they're large, publicly owned facilities, they have multiple large tenants," Lambrecht said.
"They have multiple revenue streams. You have parking income, you have food and beverage income, you have rental income from the gates and the landing fees."
Lambrecht and his partners have been pitching the idea to legislators, business leaders and hope to speak about it with Gov. Mark Dayton's this week.
The governor's spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said no appointment is on the schedule, although staff may hear out Lambrecht and his partners on the plan.
Dave Albersman, one of Lambrecht's partners, said officials like Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chair Ted Mondale previously proposed a similar, "global solution" to bring some coherence to Minnesota's perennial stadium battles.
"What we think it does, however, is it gives the politicos an opportunity to do something that they all agree makes sense: to set up a process and then get into looking at the sites, Arden Hills, the Basilica, the Farmer's Market," Albersman said.
Albersman and Lambrecht hope to win the site-selection competition. Earlier this year, they proposed moving the Vikings next door to the Twins, between Target Field and Interstate 94. Lambrecht owns land nearby.
Lambrecht and his partners have an updated plan and want to leave the well-known charity, Sharing and Caring Hands, between the two stadiums, and build near either the Farmer's Market or the Basilica of St. Mary. The plan proposes a redevelopment of the Metrodome into a medical campus.
They envision the University of Minnesota and the Hennepin County Medical Center as anchor tenants, with easy access to the light rail and freeway.
Selling the site, and even naming rights to the campus, would help finance a new NFL stadium. Lambrecht said the state also could refinance debt on the Minneapolis Convention Center and use a portion of proceeds from the Target Field sales tax as well.
A draft finance plan on the deal has the Vikings, the Timberwolves and the state's business community chipping in a total of $540 million, with another $180 million coming from state taxpayers.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team hasn't reviewed the plan. But he said it's just another obstacle to what the team is willing to do — put money up for a stadium in Ramsey County.
"Any discussion or speculation about Minneapolis is counterproductive. We need to get this deal done. We need to get it done in Arden Hills."
A panel is scheduled next week for Ramsey County citizens to weigh in.