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Legislators: Give the Dome to the Vikings

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 21, 2011 - 12:28 PM

The unusual bipartisan legislative duo of liberal John Marty and conservative Linda Runbeck offered another Vikings stadium idea Friday, proposing to give the Metrodome to the team to do with it as it will — play in it, renovate it or sell it and build a new one on another metro site.

Marty and Runbeck said they prefer that solution to Ramsey County’s plan to build a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills, which would include subsidies from both the county and the state — a total $650 million public contribution that Marty claimed would be “the biggest taxpayer subsidy of any sports team in history.”

The idea of simply turning over the Dome to the Vikings is not a new one, and team officials in the past have labeled it a nonstarter.

But Marty, referring to the Vikings rookie just named the starting quarterback this weekend against Green Bay, quipped: “Last week, Christian Ponder was a nonstarter.”

Under the proposal, which Marty and Runbeck said they would introduce in a special session if one is called for the Arden Hills plan, the Vikings would get the Dome for free and sign a 25-year contract to run it.

The stadium’s assessed value is just under $42 million. But the city, county and school district would get that money back in the form of annual taxes that the team would pay on the property. It’s estimated that the stadium would yield $1.67 million a year in taxes.

The Vikings would replace the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission as the Dome’s operator, assuming all operating costs but also keeping revenues from concessions and other non-NFL events.

Marty is a DFL state senator from Roseville and Runbeck is a Republican state representative from Circle Pines. Both represent constituents in Ramsey County, which under the Arden Hills plan would impose a half-percent sales tax on residents.

“Why should taxpayers be asked to support a duplicate [stadium]?” Runbeck said. “We want the Vikings to stay here, but a more modest proposal will be better all the way around.”

Marty and Runbeck said they had not discussed their plan with the Vikings or Minneapolis officials. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson unveiled a publicly-subsidized plan in May that would renovate the Dome for $895 million.

Cory Merrifield, who founded Save the Vikes, a stadium advocacy group, said he didn’t consider the Marty/Runbeck proposal sincere. If it were, he said, they would have talked to the team and Minneapolis.

“At the end of the day, this really is a publicity stunt,” he said.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455
 

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