Mpls. stadium plan called inadequate

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 7, 2011 - 9:33 PM

A key state representative is critical of a city funding plan to build a new Vikings stadium at the site of the Metrodome.

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Rep. Morrie Lanning

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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Minneapolis' plan for a new Vikings stadium that had seemed to gain energy on Tuesday lost some of it on Wednesday when a key legislator said that it was "quite inadequate."

The comments by Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the lead author of House stadium legislation, came one day after Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak outlined the plan before a state Senate hearing and appeared to win some qualified nods of approval.

Lanning said that Minneapolis' claim that it could contribute $300 million toward a new stadium without raising taxes was "very misleading" because much of the money would not be immediately available. "They're not proposing to write a check for $300 million," he said.

"There's sort of this rush that all of a sudden Minneapolis is the answer -- [but that] site has not been vetted," he added.

Lanning's remarks came after Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the lead Senate author of stadium legislation, had said the Minneapolis plan seemed to be gaining strength -- an indication that the two lead legislators on the matter may be at odds on a fundamental issue.

Rybak detailed the city's plan on Tuesday at the second of two Senate hearings that featured testimony from a long line of team officials, city and county administrators, lobbyists and fans wearing Vikings jerseys on where a new stadium should be built and how it should be funded.

While the hearings left unclear how much stadium progress had been made, Gov. Mark Dayton said the nine hours of testimony had moved the project forward. He also said on Wednesday that a plan to use electronic pulltabs to help state officials raise $300 million for the stadium might make the most sense.

On Tuesday, Rybak told the Senate panel that the city preferred building a new stadium at the site of the Metrodome, the Vikings' downtown Minneapolis home for the past 29 years. The mayor said the city would divert a series of local option taxes now being used to help pay for Minneapolis' convention center to a new stadium. Afterward, Rybak acknowledged that the funds "to a certain degree" would not be fully available until 2020.

Rybak's testimony sparked headlines and led Rosen to tell reporters that the Minneapolis plan was "getting to be a very viable option" and was at least $200 million cheaper than a $1.1 billion stadium proposal in Ramsey County's Arden Hills.

Rosen added that Ramsey County, which has pledged $350 million for an Arden Hills stadium, had fallen short at Tuesday's hearing in offering a way to help pay for the project. She said the county's proposal to be granted authority to levy a series of yet-to-be-name local option taxes was "not acceptable."

In an interview on Wednesday, Lanning said the Arden Hills proposal -- the Vikings' preferred site -- had received much greater scrutiny than any Minneapolis stadium plan had.

While he conceded that Ramsey County officials had to find local funding for the project, Lanning did not -- like Rosen -- reject having the county use local option taxes. "I would not be dismissive of other local option taxes" as a solution, Lanning said.

But he said that he was disappointed that Ramsey County did not have a more specific plan. "I had expected more from them [Tuesday] than we got," he said.

Lanning said that Minneapolis, Ramsey County and the Vikings need to have more detailed funding plans in place by the end of December for a legislative proposal to be ready in January. The Legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 24.

"I'm not going to be a party to bringing forward a half-baked solution," he said.

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

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