In Arden Manor, Vikings stadium plan hits close to homeby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
Arden Hills, Minn. — If you're looking for ground zero in the Vikings stadium debate, Arden Manor on Highway 10 might well be it.
The 283 mobile homes there are just yards away from the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant, where the NFL team and Ramsey County want to build a $1.1 billion facility, and residents look on the proposal with a mixture of worry and welcome.
Count Corrinne Kriegel among the worried: She used to be a disc jockey before the wedding business dried up, and she's looking for work. Her 1977 Moduline mobile home is valued on Ramsey County tax rolls at about $4,600. That's only about a third of the average $18,000 home value in Arden Manor.
"This is home for me, and I hope that it's not home for the Vikings," she said recently, fearing that development around a stadium will spill over and drive her out if the Vikings move in next door by 2015.
"If they're willing to spend that much money building that," she said of the proposed stadium across the highway, "something else can be built here. I think they'll have a bunch of little knick-knack stores over here, and a parking lot."
It may not come to that for Kriegel. The state set up a trust fund in 2007 to help relocate mobile home residents pushed out by development or land use changes.
Also, Arden Manor management says the soft ground isn't suitable for commercial development, and that the area would already have stores or businesses if it was.
But that question — what's going to spring up around a new stadium — is really what's at the heart of the Arden Hills stadium debate.
Map: Arden Manor, Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant
Proponents say that a stadium could spark a wave of redevelopment and building that would help pay back taxpayers who contribute to the deal. New stores, hotels and restaurants could boost the county's sales and property tax base.
But there could be a downside. There are also hundreds of people living in four mobile home parks just a short drive from the site, many of them poor and unemployed. That development boom could squeeze out some of the most affordable housing in the Twin Cities.
Of course, not everyone at Arden Manor sees it that way.
Tom Fransen is a salesman who says he'd welcome the stadium. The northeastern suburbs have been neglected by developers for too long, and the stadium may be the only way to get the kinds of roads and amenities he says the area needs.
"Well worth every penny," he said. "With all the people employed building the stadium, and then once its built, all the employment and people up there, I think it's great. Half a cent, or half a percent is nothing," in taxes."
Fransen also says he thinks most the state's mobile home relocation trust fund would ease the transition out of Arden Manor for most residents, if the stadium pushed them out.
But down the street, Martha Noel isn't so sure. She's an unemployed assembly line worker, and doesn't think there'll be a paycheck for her at the stadium — building it or otherwise. The way she looks at it, she and her neighbors will be among the hardest hit by a sales tax. And she questions building a football stadium so close to a residential area.
"I don't like it one bit. I don't watch football, and I don't think I want all the trouble, because there's going to be lots of trouble over here. Just craziness and partying and stuff we don't need around here," she said.
Noel and her neighbors may find out more about the stadium plan Tuesday, when the Ramsey County Charter Commission could vote on whether to put the tax proposal on the ballot in 2012.
- Morning Edition, 10/11/2011, 6:20 a.m.