The state should contribute $30 million to clean up the former ammunitions plant site at Arden Hills this year if the Ramsey County locations is not selected as the future home of the Minnesota Vikings, Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday.
"I told the county commissioners that I would put in and work hard for $30 million of bonding to clean up the site if the project, if the stadium goes elsewhere so we can get that ready to be developed. It is just a fabulous piece of property potentially," Dayton said. He said he did not put the money in the borrowing proposal he released last week because he did not want to prejudge where the stadium would be built.
Ramsey County officials and the Vikings have been working together for months to locate a new stadium on the sprawling Arden Hills land.
"I can see why the Vikings find the site appealing," said Dayton.
The governor Friday praised Ramsey County officials for their work with the Vikings.
"They've been consistent, they've been clear and they have a workable plan, except for the Legislature," Dayton said.
Legislative leaders have said they would not approve a Ramsey County tax to raise money for a stadium-building project without a local referendum. Officials believe a referendum would fail before voters, which makes the local tax an untenable source of financing.
"If for perchance, and I hope this doesn't happen but it is a genuine possibility...the (stadium) decision is postponed until 2013,as some would prefer, then there would be an option for Ramsey County to put one or both of those (tax) proposals on the ballot next November and see if people support it or not," the governor said.
On Friday, the governor will meet with Father John Bauer of Minneapolis' Basilica of St. Mary's. Bauer has objected to the stadium potentially being built on Minneapolis' Linden Avenue.
This week, Dayton said the Linden Avenue site may make the most sense as the spot for a new stadium. But he said Friday that the meeting with Bauer should not be taken as a sign the state is moving full steam ahead with Linden Avenue.
"We all want to look at what their objections are and see whether they could be resolved or not. I'm not full steam ahead...I'm not prepared to recommend that site. I don't consider it viable as it stands today. There may be other unanswered questions," Dayton said. He repeated that the due diligence had not been completed on any site to give it his unvarnished endorsement as a future stadium site.
The Minnesota Vikings may end up on the hook for spending half a billion dollars on the proposed new stadium at Arden Hills.
"If you look at the cost escalation for a project like this...and the fact their contract, as written now, they are responsible for that, I think it is fair to say they'll be maybe close to half a billion dollars," Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday.
Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development, did not warm to the half a billion figure but did not rule it out.
"The last public number was 407 (million dollars)," he said. Adding on to that , he said, is "the commitment to make it a people's stadium" so that events besides football games can happen at the new stadium, a move that adds another $20 million a year. Plus, "we're on the hook for any cost overruns on the stadium" and, Bagley said, the Vikings have or will agree to pay any cost overruns on the surrounding roads that would need improvement for the new stadium.
He said the ultimate amount the Vikings would pay was "in negotiations."
Both Bagley and Dayton said the Vikings are still only looking at the Ramsey County site in Arden Hills for their new home.
"It is plan A and it's Arden Hills," Bagley said.
Dayton said if everything moves forward smoothly the state could still have a special session this year to approve the state's financial contribution and allow for Ramsey County's contributions.
But there is a lot of ground to cover between now and then.
By mid-October, the state is due to produce a quick, but complete assessment of the Arden Hills site that would look at both environmental and transportation issues.
Bagley said he was sure that would be an "honest, fair assessment of the project" that would help eliminate the risk involved in a project of that size.
"We think and we hope that it will give us the green light," Bagley said.
The day after the Minnesota Vikings announced the had a deal to build a new stadium in Ramsey County, Gov. Mark Dayton reiterated that the state would not pay extra to fund the more expensive plan.
According to the state’s Transportation Department, the Ramsey County site would require a minimum of $175 million in state highway improvements to work. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said Tuesday that the Arden Hills site would cost as much as $1.28 billion; rebuilding the Metrodome in Minneapolis could cost $895 million.
“I think the numbers are clear -- $300 million from the state….If they can make that work then we have an agreement,” Dayton said Wednesday. “If the state has highway improvements are necessary as part of that then that gets subtracted from the $300 million.”
The governor said the highway improvements would come at a time when the state’s transportation dollars are short.
“It is very clear to everybody that here in Minnesota…that the state funding for highway construction is limited and we need to address that probably in the next session. But for the time being the projects are lined up and we not going to change the sequencing of the projects because of a project development,” Dayton said.
Regarding stadium bonds, he said: “The bonds that are going to be issued are not going to be paid with general fund revenues or general tax. They are going to be repaid with the proceeds from the stadium.”
Despite potential stumbling blocks, the governor said the deal could be done before lawmakers end the session on May 23.
“I believe we are on track that this could be done but obviously (we) still have to nail down the details and the financing and the cost and who is going to responsible for what,” Dayton said.
Asked if the team owners made the right decision by picking Ramsey County over Minneapolis the governor said: “I think hey made the right decision for themselves. They are very enthusiastic…and if they are willing to pay what it takes to do this then everybody benefits…The more they want to get involved, the more they want to put into this, then the bigger they can make this…then I think people will be excited by it and flock to it and it will be a great attracting in Minnesota.”
Dayton said he spoke to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf Tuesday morning, before the team announced they wanted to build a new stadium in Arden Hills, but not since then. He said he was available to talk to the Wilfs but Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commissioner Ted Mondale was his person on the project.
By Mike Kaszuba
Minneapolis officials will announce a proposal Monday to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings on the Metrodome site that will have the city pay for roughly 25 percent of the project, a source with close knowledge of the plan said late Sunday.
City officials have scheduled a mid-afternoon press conference at the State Capitol to outline details of the proposal, which comes two weeks before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn. The city is competing with Ramsey County, which wants to lure the Vikings to suburban Arden Hills, to partner with the team and the state on a new stadium.
The city plan, according to the source, would use sales taxes from the city’s convention center for and provide money for a renovation of Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, the home of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The proposal would also change the debt structure for Target Center.
No city property taxes would be used for the new Vikings stadium, the source said.
The city’s plan comes just days after Ted Mondale, Gov. Mark Dayton’s chief stadium negotiator, said that the Vikings were pursuing the stadium with the understanding that the team would have to raise its contribution to roughly 40 percent of its cost.
Two Republican legislators, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, introduced legislation last month that would have the state, the Vikings and a local government partner pay for roughly a third of the project’s cost. The latest estimate of the stadium’s cost was just under $900 million.
Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barb Johnson met Friday with Zygi Wilf, the Vikings owner, and an official from the National Football League but top city officials have until now kept details of the plan secret.
Following the meeting Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president for stadium development and public affairs, said the city had a “vision” for a new stadium at the Metrodome but Bagley declined to provide details. He said the team was still weighing both the Ramsey County and Minneapolis proposals.
Wilf also met with Ramsey County officials Friday and Dayton, who met with Wilf on Thursday, said the Vikings owner talked “very impressively” of the Arden Hills property, a former ammunition plant. Vikings and Ramsey County officials have touted the property as giving team a better opportunity to capture parking revenues and provide tailgating for fans than the downtown Minneapolis Metrodome.
Ramsey County officials, who have hinted of using a countywide sales tax to help fund the project, have said repeatedly in recent weeks that they are close to an agreement with the team.
With the Legislature scheduled to adjourn on May 23, and still wrestling with how to solve a $5.1 billion state deficit, the Vikings stadium plan is expected to add a large dose of political drama in the session’s closing days.
Polls have consistently shown that a significant majority of Minnesotans oppose using public subsidies to build a new stadium for the Vikings.
The state’s contribution would consist of a variety of so-called user taxes, including a special lottery game, and would also have the state control revenue from the stadium’s naming rights. Dayton has said the state's contribution would be roughly the same for either location.
Though the stadium has loomed as a large issue awaiting legislators this year, the proposed legislation has not yet had a hearing. Republicans hold new majorities in both the House and Senate, and a significant number of both Republican and DFL legislators oppose using taxpayer money to help build the stadium, especially while the state faces major economic woes.
Stadium critics have also argued that public subsidies for the Vikings should not be approved at a time the state is making major cuts to programs for the poor and disadvantaged.
Since 1982, the Vikings have played at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis but have announced that they would not renew the team’s lease after the 2011 season. Wilf has insisted he is not interested in moving or selling the team.
Vikings owner Zgyi Wilf Thursday had chats with lawmakers -- and Gov. Mark Dayton.
"It wasn't planned," Dayton said of his meeting with Wilf.
The governor had an unrelated meeting at the University Club Thursday night, the same day Wilf made a 'surprise' visit to the Minnesota Capitol. Dayton said Wilf was also in the University Club that evening and Lester Bagley, Vikings' lobbyist, realized it would be an opportunity to bring the two together.
"it was an informal conversation," Dayton said. He said Wilf seemed "hopeful and I said I was hopeful (a new Vikings stadium) would be passed through the legislative process this session."
Dayton said his hopes rest, in part on the fact that: "We have some very good authors in both the House and the Senate and bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate."
Dayton said since the 10 minute chat wasn't planned, it didn't delve into details.
"I wasn't planning on meeting with him so I didn't have anything specific to discuss," the governor said. Their chat ranged from the fact that Wilf's 26-year-old son just got married (and Dayton's slightly older sons are still single) to Dayton's belief that a statewide car rental tax and a metro hotel tax should be part of the package.