Proponents of a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills are running a political version of a two-minute drill.
Gov. Mark Dayton, Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chairman Ted Mondale, and key legislative sponsors huddled at the State Capitol on Tuesday, hoping to work out a plan that could push the suburban stadium over the goal line during an eventual budget-balancing overtime session of the Legislature.
The hurry-up offense is advancing a decision that will have an impact for generations. That impact will be felt statewide, but it will be particularly profound in the community where the stadium is built -- as well as the one where it isn't built.
Faced with such a momentous choice, involving hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax dollars, policymakers should have the benefit of a thorough analysis on the pros and cons of the three proposed stadium sites -- and on whether there are better sites available that haven't been considered.
Yet decisionmakers' information is incomplete, not least because Dayton has not asked for the official opinion of the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning agency for the seven-county metropolitan area.
This omission by Dayton, a stadium advocate, is inconsistent with good governance and contradicts his stalwart support of an often unfairly criticized agency.
Beyond its planning function, the Met Council is the authoritative voice on transportation, transit and land use issues -- all key criteria legislators should be considering.
The reasons for sidelining the council so far seem clear enough. The Vikings want the Arden Hills site, especially for its parking revenue and the location's broader development opportunities. Ramsey County commissioners see the plan as their area's best hope to develop a polluted parcel of land.
Dayton wants to keep the team in the state and prizes the economic boost from construction jobs a new stadium would create. Why ask questions that could complicate acting on those incentives?
But to fulfill the governor's vision for "a people's stadium," this decision should be driven by a big-picture assessment of what is best for the people of Minnesota. The Met Council may agree that Arden Hills is the best option.
Or it may say that fueling the vibrancy of downtown Minneapolis, the state's economic engine, is a key concern. Perhaps it would conclude the Farmers Market site near Target Field and Target Center creates the kind of synergies that are best for the metropolitan area, and thus the state.
Or, it may agree with this Editorial Board, and say that the best, most cost-effective option is Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's plan to build on the existing Metrodome site.
The Vikings have effectively created the narrative that "only" a $131 million funding gap remains to complete an Arden Hills solution. They conveniently ignore the overall cost advantages of building on the site of their current home.
Taxpayers and legislators would be wise to remember that a new stadium on the Metrodome site would in total cost the public almost $300 million less than the Arden Hills stadium.
Ramsey County has promised $350 million from a general sales tax increase that would generate most of its revenue from the city of St. Paul, where the economic benefit from an Arden Hills stadium would be nonexistent.
The city of Minneapolis would raise $195 million in sales taxes better linked to stadium activities, and its plan includes the much-needed renovation of Target Center and property tax relief. (Disclosure: The value of Star Tribune property will likely be affected by the stadium decision.)
Games are the place for two-minute drills, for scrambling in search of any available opening. But investing hundreds of millions in public funds, and strategically planning a major metropolitan area, is real life.
It's never too late to get the best objective analysis -- or to make the right decision.
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