Vikings focus on stadium deal with Ramsey County

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 11, 2011 - 6:53 AM

Negotiations could begin as early as next week about a former arsenal site in Arden Hills, but it's still early in the dance.

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The former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant acreage in Arden Hills

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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For the first time Tuesday, the Ramsey County Commission is expected to take a position on a new Vikings football stadium, authorizing the county manager to negotiate with the NFL team and develop a plan for a proposed site in Arden Hills.

The resolution would allow discussions between the team and the county about the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant. It is expected to pass easily, providing an early show of support. Strong or weak votes for preliminary stadium resolutions can forecast whether a political body will stomach a tougher vote on financing.

Resolution sponsors Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega say they have the votes to pass the resolution or they wouldn't have brought it forward. The resolution gives the county manager authority to develop a budget for "due diligence," including financial and legal analysis for project management, site development, transportation analysis and environmental mitigation.

"We need to go to the Legislature and the governor with a plan that works," Ortega said.

Bennett said the resolution gets the county to the table. "If you're not at the table, you don't get a chance to eat," he said.

A potentially more difficult vote looms in a couple of weeks when Ortega said he expects the county manager to return to the board with a proposed budget for the site study.

Asked about the size of such a budget, Bennett said, "I'm not going to give the enemy of the state or anybody else any information to offset what we're doing."

A Feb. 10 letter signed by Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf is attached to the resolution, encouraging discussions of a "potential partnership" with the county on the former arsonal site, in the northwest corner of Ramsey County.

Vice President Lester Bagley said in an interview that approval of the resolution means going ahead to determine whether the site is truly viable. The Vikings are interested in the Arden Hills site, 10 miles north of the Metrodome, he said.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

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