By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
First it was Basilica of St. Mary officials who expressed concerns about the proposed Linden Avenue site for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Now a longtime machine tool manufacturer that would have to make way for the stadium is asking Gov. Mark Dayton to take the site off his list.
In a letter to Dayton sent Tuesday, John Wanner of Wanner Engineering Inc. said that forcing the company to relocate “would cause a year or more of disruption to our assembly lines, resulting in millions of lost revenue putting our workforce at risk. “At a time when Minnesota is looking to grow jobs, we cannot afford to disrupt the lives of hard working Minnesotans for a sports and entertainment complex, especially when there are numerous sites that would not cause anyone any disruption.”
According to Wanner, the company makes high tech pressure pumps and valves. It’s been located at 1204 Chestnut Avenue, on the east end of the proposed stadium site, for more than 30 years, he said.
"We are smack-dab in the middle of" the Vikings stadium plan for Linden Avenue, he said. "When the governor is talking about his jobs bill -- here we are growing jobs."
Wanner employs 104 Minnesotans in “high paying manufacturing jobs,” he wrote the governor, who have worked an average of 11 years. About 40 percent of its sales are made to foreign buyers. The company has expanded its workforce by 33 percent in the past two years, he wrote.
“I am asking you to please remove Linden Avenue from the sites in contention,” Wanner wrote Dayton.
Wanner's comments came after yet another voice near the Basilica objected to a Vikings stadium being built nearby. YouthLink, a 30-year-old non-profit group near the Basilica site, said last week that "sadly, the proposed football stadium on Linden Ave. would include the demolition of YouthLink.
"This proposed plan would be devastating," said Heather Huseby, the group's executive director.
Dayton received three serious site proposals last week and hopes to settle on one site that can be acted on in the legislative session beginning Jan. 24.
The Vikings want to build a stadium in Arden Hills but have expressed some interest in the Linden Avenue site, should the pendulum swing back to downtown Minneapolis. Last week, the rector of the basilica said he was worried that construction might damage the century-old church, which is a couple blocks away, and that a stadium would tie up area traffic. Most of the buildings on the site are owned by Xcel Energy or the city of Minneapolis.