Minneapolis officials want at least a $30 million slice of the Metrodome's value, a move that would significantly cut into the money being counted on to help build a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills.
In a letter sent to Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday, city officials said that Minneapolis had "clear and demonstrable rights" to the proceeds of the Metrodome that should not automatically be used to help build a $1 billion stadium in Ramsey County.
City officials said that a state law provides that Minneapolis and Hennepin County are due $5 million each should the Metrodome be sold, but added that the city also had poured many millions more into the facility, including nearly $16 million in revenues from liquor and hotel taxes.
"We hit the roof when we heard there was a plan to take proceeds from the Metrodome and use it to build a stadium in Arden Hills," Mayor R.T. Rybak said on Wednesday, adding that city officials had only learned a week ago of the plans to dedicate Metrodome sales proceeds to the new stadium.
The money "does not belong to someone trying to move a business out of our city," the mayor said. "And we will fight it every step of the way."
Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president for stadium development and public affairs, downplayed the letter and said city officials were not being forthright. When the Vikings were considering building a new stadium in Anoka County five years ago, he said, there was a clear understanding of what would happen to the proceeds from the sale of the Metrodome, the downtown Minneapolis stadium where the Vikings have played since 1982. If the Metrodome was sold, Bagley said, $10 million was to be split between Minneapolis and Hennepin County and the remaining money would "go into a new football stadium" wherever it was built.
"At that time, we were talking about an Anoka County stadium, and they didn't object to it then," Bagley said.
He said the city also was minimizing the team's tax contributions over its years at the Metrodome. Bagley said the city, in calculating the money it would be owed, relied on a consultant's study that also showed the Metrodome had generated $340 million in taxes since opening. More than half of the taxes -- roughly $186 million -- had come from Vikings-related events. "We'll leave it up to the governor and the state Legislature to sort this out," he added.
Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said that the governor had received the city's letter and that the governor was aware of existing law that required Minneapolis and Hennepin County to each get $5 million should the Metrodome be sold. "This is not a surprise to us," she said.
The city's letter was the first tangible sign that Minneapolis intended to challenge both the team's possible departure and financing plans for a new stadium.
When the Vikings announced the Arden Hills plan last spring, the team brushed aside a city plan unveiled a day earlier to build a new stadium at the Metrodome site.
The Vikings made little progress at the Legislature this year with their plans for a 1.6 million-square-foot stadium on the site of the former ammunition plant in Arden Hills. Although Dayton has held out the possibility of a special legislative session yet this year to consider the project, the governor also has ordered an in-depth study of the stadium's costs. That report is due to be completed next month.
Under the Arden Hills proposal, the Vikings would pay at least $407 million of the project and the state would contribute $300 million. Ramsey County would add another $350 million, largely through a countywide sales tax that may or may not face a referendum.
The Vikings, citing the current stadium's limited ability to generate new revenue, have said they will not renew their Metrodome lease when it expires after this year.
Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson, who co-signed the letter to Dayton with Rybak, said city officials only learned indirectly of the plan to divert all of the Metrodome's proceeds to the Arden Hills proposal. "That's the whole point," she said. "This has not been a public discussion about how to pay for this stadium. "We're putting our chips on the table."
Staff writer Rachel E. Stassen-Berger contributed to this report.