Dayton asks sites for final Vikings stadium plans

Published 1:36 pm Thursday, January 5, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday gave leaders in Minneapolis and Ramsey County one week to finalize their proposals to host a new Vikings stadium, so that he and state lawmakers can decide between them.

Dayton sent letters to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Ramsey County Board Chairman Rafael Ortega. He requested “as much detailed information as possible” about how each would pay a local cost share, how ownership and operating structures would work, and arguments as to why their site is superior.

Dayton wrote that his request had been vetted with the two lead stadium bill sponsors in the state House and Senate.

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“This timeline has been determined by Representative (Morrie) Lanning, Senator (Julie) Rosen, and myself as essential to continuing the legislation’s momentum and giving the Legislature the information and time necessary to discuss, decide and act,” the governor wrote to Rybak and Ortega.

The Legislature convenes for its 2012 session on Jan. 24, and the stadium debate is expected to dominate much of lawmakers’ attention. The Minnesota Vikings have been seeking a public subsidy to help build a replacement for the Metrodome, which team officials say is no longer sufficiently profitable. The team’s last game under their lease in that 30-year-old facility was played last weekend, and team officials have vowed not to renew it.

Costs to build a new stadium are likely to exceed $1 billion, with the Vikings are so far signaling willingness to pay more than $400 million. The state would pay about $300 million from an undetermined revenue source likely to include tax revenue from a gambling expansion, leaving the local host expected to cough up about $350 million.

Ramsey County has proposed building on a suburban site in Arden Hills. Minneapolis has discussed three potential sites: two near the Twins’ Target Field, and the other at the current Metrodome site. The Vikings owners prefer the Ramsey County site, but have not ruled out staying in downtown Minneapolis.

It’s been unclear how Ramsey County would pay its local share after Dayton and lawmakers ruled out a local sales tax increase. Recent talks have centered on the possibility of a more narrow sales tax increase, possibly on restaurants and bars. In Minneapolis, Rybak has suggested diverting proceeds from an existing city sales tax that currently pays off convention center construction bonds.

Rybak and Minneapolis Council President Barbara Johnson said in a news release they would meet Dayton’s deadline and that keeping the Vikings in Minneapolis would be “more accessible and affordable for fans than Arden Hills.”

Ortega did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.