Vikings stadium belongs in Ramsey County

  • Article by: JULIE WEARN
  • Updated: October 19, 2011 - 9:26 PM

Can't the east-metro suburbs have just one of the area's key attractions?


Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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An Oct. 13 editorial ("A costly time bomb in Ramsey County") confirmed the Star Tribune's unrelenting advocacy for a Minneapolis site for a new Vikings stadium.

Combined with the newspaper's disclosure that "the value of property owned by the Star Tribune near the Metrodome is likely to be affected by the stadium decision," this advocacy is a thinly veiled attempt to derail what is the only real plan on the table to build a new home for the Vikings.

Why can't the east-metro suburbs share in the wealth?

Minneapolis has the Twins and Target Field, the Gophers and TCF Bank Stadium, the Timberwolves, and the Metrodome, plus first-class restaurants, nightlife and theater.

Bloomington boasts the airport, the Mall of America, a convention-center hotel complex and a Mayo Clinic site in development. St. Paul has the Minnesota Wild, the Xcel Energy Center, the Ordway and, quite possibly down the line, a new St. Paul Saints stadium.

Let's expand the footprint so that all four corners of the greater Twin Cities host a major attraction.

Ramsey County's AAA bond rating, recognized sound financial management and substantial due diligence in developing an agreement with the Vikings to construct a new stadium on the abandoned Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills should give the public confidence as the county works with the team and state leaders to develop a project that would be good for the entire metro area -- not just downtown Minneapolis.

After all, this proposal is about redeveloping brown fields at TCAAP (not unlike the Ford Plant in St. Paul); to add tax base to our fully developed community, to put people back to work in the construction trades (currently experiencing 19.7 percent unemployment, compared with 17.3 percent nationwide); and to improve existing roadways that benefit all metro residents, businesses and commuters.

I'm proud of the way Ramsey County stepped up to the plate with a first-class plan for using the largest Superfund site in the state.

Ramsey County is a sponsoring public partner of Greater MSP, a regional economic development partnership that held its kickoff event at the Pantages Theater last week.

The goal of Greater MSP, which includes partners from the private sector, such as General Mills, Ecolab and Target, as well as many metro cities and counties, including Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington, is to stimulate economic growth and prosperity in the 13-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

Mayors R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis and Chris Coleman of St. Paul support this effort to find ways to strengthen our region. Redevelopment of TCAAP is a great opportunity to see beyond antiquated and parochial approaches to economic development and chart a new course toward a strengthened and competitive metro area.

Ramsey County and the Vikings are ready to redevelop the TCAAP site, with the stadium as a catalyst for significant commercial and residential redevelopment. Cost increases have already been built into the revised budget.

The entire Metropolitan Council report on the matter -- which the editorial cited as raising questions -- should be read to understand that the Ramsey County proposal fits into a reasonable range of costs and is, in fact, in the middle of that range.

With proper construction management, costs might actually be reduced -- by as much as $76 million, according to the Met Council report. The project budget and timeline will be manageable if a green light can be given by the governor and the Legislature soon.

Denigrating the Ramsey County/Vikings proposal will not result in benefits for the region as a whole. This proposal ensures that a state and regional asset will remain in our state for the next 30 years and that more than $400 million in private resources will be invested.

Let's find a way to move forward with this project, achieve our economic development goals and put people back to work.

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Julie Wearn is executive director of the Roseville Visitors Association.


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