The Vikings stadium site battle is now down to two, the Metrodome site and Arden Hills.
After some growing momentum for a Minneapolis Farmers Market site just days ago, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Hennepin County Board didn’t have sufficient votes to help fund a new Vikings stadium. Also, Hennepin County Board Chairman Mike Opat told MinnPost that he couldn’t go forward with a stadium plan in light of budget cuts faced by the county.
Late Thursday, Opat sent a letter (PDF) to Gov. Mark Dayton saying any efforts he was making to develop a stadium plan in the North Loop area near Target Field would not continue.
His reasons: State budget cuts to Hennepin County social services are substantial; the state’s investment to any Vikings stadium plan “are neither sufficient nor realistic”; and there isn’t enough time left in the legislative session to produce “a thoughtful proposal.”
Meanwhile, Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were expected to be in the Twin Cities to nail down a deal for a local partner in a tripartite arrangement of state-team-and-local partner.
A revised stadium bill could be ready by early next week, with hearings soon after.
With Hennepin County clearly out of the way, all eyes turn to the Ramsey County site in Arden Hills and the Minneapolis Dome site. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Friday morning that an Arden Hills deal is “very, very close.”
Increasingly, it looks as if a cocktail of taxes used to help fund the Minneapolis Convention Center could be used in a Minneapolis city plan to help fund a Vikings stadium.
There is currently an annual surplus in the tax collections for the Convention Center. State lawmakers have long had their eyes on this surplus.
Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson have consistently opposed the use of the taxes, but, apparently, legislators continue to press to have this revenue source for the city’s contribution to the project.
A Dome site is expected to be significantly cheaper than an Arden Hills site. Dayton’s stadium point man, Ted Mondale, has cited cost as a key factor in any stadium deal. A final cost comparison has been expected for weeks.
But in an email to MinnPost today, Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who is leading the county’s Vikings effort, said that the total cost of road improvement around a new Arden Hills stadium might be as low as $100 million; Bennett believes road improvements of I-694 and I-35W are needed whether a stadium is sited in Arden Hills or not.
But such infrastructure costs would have to be funded by the state, and Mondale and Dayton seem to have capped state funding at about $300 million, no matter where the stadium is located.