Wolves reportedly offer 'global stadium solution'

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA
  • Star Tribune
  • March 11, 2011 - 11:41 PM

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a plan to help build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium -- and get Target Center renovated for them as well.

The Timberwolves called it a "global solution" for Minnesota's multiple stadium issues, according to the proposal, which was obtained by Minnesota Public Radio.

The plan calls for a regional sports authority, and would issue 25-year bonds through the Metropolitan Council to raise $1.173 billion to not only build a new Vikings stadium, but also renovate Target Center (the home of the Timberwolves), build a new St. Paul Saints ballpark and assume the debt on the Xcel Center, the home of the Minnesota Wild.

While the plan would ask the teams to contribute, according to MPR, the majority of the funding -- $74 million annually -- would come from taxpayers. MPR said the plan initially proposed levying a one-fifth-cent metrowide sales tax, using state tobacco settlement funds, tapping the proceeds of a new downtown Minneapolis casino and getting money from a Vikings lottery game.

Barb Johnson, the Minneapolis City Council president, said Friday that while she favors a global solution to the Twin Cities' professional stadium issues, the plan's aim to build a new Vikings stadium and keep the Metrodome was a "red flag." The Vikings have played at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis for 29 years.

"There'd be two football stadiums, and I just don't think that's very practical," said Johnson, who said she had only recently seen the plan.

Ted Mondale, chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns the Metrodome, had last month advocated creating an umbrella-like regional sports authority for the purpose of addressing all of the Twin Cities' professional sports stadium needs.

"I think something like that could likely be in the bill," Mondale said of legislation authorizing a new Vikings stadium. The proposed legislation, which lawmakers, lobbyists and business leaders have been working on for months, has not yet been introduced at the Legislature.

Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden said Friday she had heard of the Timberwolves' proposal, but was unsure how much political traction it was gaining. Glidden, who chairs the City Council's intergovernmental subcommittee, said she believes the council would be "strongly in favor" of a regional sports authority.

"To me, this is the only thing that makes sense," she said.

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

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