By Rochelle Olson
Ramsey County’s third Minnesota Vikings stadium proposal doesn’t work for the team, Vice President Lester Bagley said Friday.
The latest plan delivered to Gov. Mark Dayton shifted from using county sales taxes to user fees at the proposed stadium site in Arden Hills. Bagley was direct about the third effort, saying, “Our view is the earlier proposals were more viable.”
The latest concept violates the initial agreement between the team and the county revealed in May. The pact required the team to get the parking revenue and ruled out a ticket tax. “We’ll continue to work with them on it,” Bagley said.
The new plan is assumed to raise $20.6 million a year beginning with $16.3 million in 2016 and growing to $25.5 million in 2045 when the county will have paid off its portion of the project. The total costs are $1.1 billion. The plan would have the Vikings contributing $425 million, the state $350 million and $336 million from the county.
The proposal would use seven revenue streams to raise the money, including $5.4 million in parking fees from non-game events and $2 million in naming rights to parking lots. A 3 percent admissions surcharge would be included.
The deal would collect hospitality taxes from not just the stadium but the entire 430-acre former munitions site. Those taxes include food, beverage, sales and lodging. Growth in sales tax revenues at the site and business property taxes at the site would be used for transportation upgrades in surrounding roads. The county would assume the cost of land acquisition and remediation.
Commissioner Tony Bennett said he envisioned the rights to parking sectors being sold to businesses so fans could navigate to their cars in perhaps the 3M, Medtronic or the Red Bull lots. “It’s a game-changer, it’s very different from the first two proposals,” Bennett said.
In the first plan, the county proposed a half percentage point countywide sales tax increase, but that was shot dead from many angles. Then the county proposed a 3 percent food and beverage tax increase, but that wasn’t well-received by legislators either.
Bagley said the team likes some elements of the proposal such as the property tax use and the taxes on ancillary activity at the site. “Ramsey County is hanging in there and we appreciate that,” Bagley said.
The stadium would sit on 260 acres of the site. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf would have an option to develop 170 surrounding acres.
Dayton declined to give a thumbs up or down to the Ramsey County plan, but slapped the Minneapolis City Council with fresh criticism for “carping” and “taking potshots” on the sidelines.
He gave Ramsey County credit for being “straightforward” and teaming with the Vikings on a “solid financial plan” from the beginning “in marked contrast to Minneapolis.”
He added, “You can’t even get a letter from the City Council saying the support a stadium. ... They just sit on the sidelines carping.”
Seven of the 13 members of the council have said they opposer a public subsidy for a stadium. Council President Barbara Johnson and Mayor R.T. Rybak.
Dayton also said he could understand why the Vikings worked with Ramsey County rather than Minneapolis. The team has said it prefers the Arden Hills site but is working with state and city negotiators on developing a plan for a site near the Metrodome that can’t go forward without council support.
Council members had yet to respond to Dayton’s comments.