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 gang of Capitol leaders is going to get together for a football party.
Gov. Mark Dayton said, at Republican state Sen. Julie Rosen's suggestion, he will host legislative leaders at the governor's residence this Sunday to watch the Minnesota Vikings play.
"It's going to be bipartisan," Dayton said.
Rosen, R-Fairmont, is the Senate's chief author of the Vikings stadium measure.
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.