BY MIKE KASZUBA and ROCHELLE OLSON
Accelerating the push for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, Gov. Mark Dayton sent letters Thursday to Ramsey County and Minneapolis setting Jan. 12 as the deadline for their final proposals for the project.
Dayton said the timeline was set in conjunction with the chief stadium legislation authors in the House and Senate, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont.
"It should contain as much detailed information as possible about your proposed means to finance your local share of the project" and also "the reasons you believe your site to be superior," the governor said.
Minneapolis officials said Thursday they intended to push the Metrodome -- the team's current home -- for the new stadium, but have in the past added that they had three downtown sites that were less expensive than the Vikings' $1.1 billion proposal to build in Ramsey County's Arden Hills.
Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett said the county would go with its existing proposal. "We've walked so many different aisles with the governor and the Legislature. I don't know if the janitor and the night sweepers have checked us out yet, but everybody else has," said Bennett.
For the past year, the Vikings plan to move from the 30-year-old Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis has been thwarted by widespread public opposition to using taxpayer money for the project along with disagreement on how it would be publicly funded. Ramsey County last year partnered with the team on the Arden Hills plan, but the county has struggled to find a local funding source.
Vikings officials, while still insisting that they prefer Arden Hills, have in recent weeks been more closely studying a downtown Minneapolis site near the Basilica of St. Mary.
Rybak and City Council President Barb Johnson said Thursday that they welcomed the deadline and said the city offered a "three-for-one deal" that would not only build a new stadium but also financially restructure Target Center and financially secure the city's convention center.
"Our plan provides Minnesota with a three-for-one deal for the same price or less than the cost of the Arden Hills site," the two city leaders said in a joint statement.
The Vikings meanwhile said they too welcomed the deadline. "We appreciate the governor's and the bill authors' efforts to bring closure to the stadium issue," said Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president for stadium development and publicaffairs. "There is urgency for state leaders to act on this issue early in 2012."
The Legislature convenes on Jan. 24, and likely will debate the stadium at some point.
The letter to Ramsey County:
The letter to Minneapolis: