Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

Wilfs headed to town as stadium proposals ripen

Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, who spend most of their time in New Jersey, are headed back to the Twin Cities in the next 48 to 72 hours to attempt to nail down an agreement with a local partner in their quest for a new stadium.

Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley confirmed the Wilfs visit Wednesday evening.

"I've heard they're coming," Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett told MinnPost this afternoon, but Bennett said he couldn't confirm that.

Minnesota Public Radio reported Tuesday that Ramsey County, with its Arden Hills site, was "edging towards" a deal with the Vikings to be the local partner, bringing as much as a third of the cost of a stadium via a county-wide sales tax.

Bennett today played down any imminent Vikings deal in Arden Hills: "I'm always an optimist, but the [legislative] session is getting pretty late ... Until you have an agreement, nothing is certain."

At least two hurdles continue to hinder any Vikings-Ramsey County deal. One, the Arden Hills site needs a significant upgrade in road construction, perhaps as much as $200 million. That money would, apparently, have to come from the state.

Gov. Mark Dayton's stadium point man, Ted Mondale, has been adamant that the state's contribution will come only from "user fees."

Another unknown: the cost of cleaning the former weapons manufacturing site for the stadium.

An Arden Hills stadium with the various infrastructure components would likely top the $1 billion price tag that Mondale has been seeking to dodge.

Meanwhile, efforts to develop a less costly stadium proposal in Minneapolis at the current Dome site continue.

Mayor R.T. Rybak's spokesman, John Stiles, declined to comment on any details. The mayor and City Council President Barbara Johnson have long been opposed to using some of the cocktail of taxes that help to fund the Minneapolis Convention Center's debt and eventual capital improvements.

But legislators, who have control over such taxation, have their eyes on the various sales, bar, restaurant and lodging taxes that the city collects with the Legislature's authorization. What the Legislature giveth, it can also taketh away.

There is also a Hennepin County-linked plan for a stadium on the Farmers Market site in the North Loop neighborhood near downtown Minneapolis. That plan, being pushed by downtown business leaders, would place a stadium near Target Field, the Twins ballpark. But a finance plan there would require a vote of the Hennepin County Board and, increasingly, getting four votes from the seven-person board appears difficult.

Meanwhile, Dayton signaled that if there's a stadium bill, he wants it resolved before the global state budget solution.

The Star Tribune reported this afternoon that Dayton said he didn't want the Vikings facility to be used as a "bargaining chip" by Republicans and he was quoted as saying: "“If we don’t have a stadium and the Vikings leave, that’s their responsibility not mine."

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

Comments (2)

With the stadium site choices we're left with, Arden Hills is the only viable alternative, unless someone has a funding plan that does not involve a responsible "host" community investment. The chances of that happening are slim & none.

There are statewide benefits involved in keeping the Vikings in MN and there are the more localized "host" community benefits including but not limited to the inter-jurisdictional transfers of:

* public funds (the transfer of $250 million+ from the state
* jobs (the stadium jobs and those created by the mixed-use development around the new stadium)
* commercial activity (I'm thinking about a world class sport bar and other entertainment making the site an entertainment destination.)
* local tax revenues

Minneapolis and Hennepin County invested too much in the Twins stadium and didn't consider building side-by-side stadiums in 2006. Their shortsightedness will most likely be Ramsey County's gain.

Time to fix the stadium bill that was submitted recently and pass legislation to keep the Vikings in MN. A franchise relocation to LA only comes into play if there's no workable stadium bill passed this year.


to stop giving our money to wealthy team owners when they can build their own stadiums.

Why don't you just give *your* money to Mr. Wolf of you want your stadium.