By Mike Kaszuba and Rochelle Olson
In one more sign of the last-minute push for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, Gov. Mark Dayton and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are scheduled to meet early Tuesday.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House author of the stadium legislation, said he has been invited to the meeting at the governor’s mansion and wanted to ask Goodell “what the NFL is prepared to do or not do” to help build a new stadium.
Lanning said he also hoped that Goodell might address having the Vikings and the league contribute more money to the project. “We would hope that would be a possibility, too,” he said of the meeting’s agenda.
With less than a week before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn, there were multiple signs Monday that Dayton and other stadium supporters were trying to find a way around several significant issues regarding the proposed $1 billion stadium in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills.
But a series of problems – including who would pay for improving the roads at the site – are proving to be vexing.
The stadium proposal has yet to have any hearings at the Legislature, and many legislators said they will not consider a Vikings stadium plan until the state's $5.1 billion budget deficit is resolved. There were in fact signs Monday that Dayton and Republican legislators, who hold majorities in the House and Senate, remain far apart on a budget agreement.
Under a 12-page agreement released last week by Ramsey County and the Vikings, the team would pay $407 million toward the project, and the state would contribute $300 million. The county, through a half percent county wide sales tax increase, would raise another $350 million.
Ramsey County commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega, the county’s two biggest proponents of the Arden Hills stadium plan, met Monday with the governor and Tom Sorel, the state transportation commissioner. Bennett said afterward that the meeting went “very well”.
State transportation officials have said that the proposed 65,000-seat stadium would require at least $175 million in road improvements, a figure that the Vikings have disputed. The figure is significant because Dayton and Lanning have said that whatever the cost of the road improvements the amount has to be deducted from the state’s $300 million overall contribution.
Sorel, according to Bennett, is “trying to get his people to work with our people to get the right numbers because we’re all over the board.
“We have a short time to get there, but we’ll get there. Why not?” said Bennett.
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