Gov. Mark Dayton gave a plan to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Arden Hills a major dose of reality Tuesday, saying the project would need as much as $240 million in nearby road improvements and that the state would likely not rush to do them ahead of schedule.
With the Vikings and Ramsey County close to striking an agreement on a new stadium in Arden Hills – there were unconfirmed reports a press conference would be held later Tuesday -- Dayton’s surprise announcement seemed aimed at telling the team and the county that the project needed more realistic estimates for road improvements.
While the governor maintained he did not have a preferred stadium site – Arden Hills and Minneapolis are competing for the project – his comments by default appeared to strengthen a proposal to build a new stadium at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, where the Vikings have played since 1982 and where proponents argue the needed roads already exist.
The governor said that legislation proposing a new stadium capped the state’s contribution at $300 million -- the project has been estimated to cost as much as $900 million -- and that any road improvements needed in Arden Hills would be subtracted from the amount.
“I’ll support either project up to $300 million,” he said.
A state Department of Transportation analysis, which Dayton released Tuesday, showed that building a stadium in Arden Hills without any other surrounding development would require $175 million in road improvements. Building a stadium and additional development would cost $240 million.
Ramsey County officials have insisted that they have made major progress in reducing the estimate for the roadwork.
With 13 days remaining until the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn, Dayton said he was unsure whether a stadium agreement could be reached and denied he was spending too much time trying to make it happen.
“I think it’s very possible and very doable. [It’s] also possible that it won’t” happen this year, he said.
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