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Dayton voices more reservations on Vikings stadium plan

  • Blog Post by: Mike Kaszuba
  • May 13, 2011 - 2:48 PM
Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday that the proposed Minnesota Vikings stadium in Arden Hills is “appealing to the Vikings” but may not be in the best interest of Minnesotans.
In an interview with the Star Tribune, the governor expressed concerns regarding the planned stadium in Ramsey County, saying that the team would control much of the project and that a proposed five-member stadium authority that he would help appoint would have limited authority.
“I could see why that would be appealing to the Vikings. I don’t know why Ramsey County agreed to it,” Dayton said of the overall plan.
"The way it is now," he said of the plan, "this narrow [stadium] authority of five people just deeds it over to the Vikings to run and realize all the revenues and everything else."
The governor said he had concerns over the "control of the stadium site, control of the, you know, stadium itself and its operations."
The Vikings and Ramsey County announced their plan Tuesday to build a 65,000-seat stadium in Arden Hills, with the team contributing $407 million and the county raising $350 million for the project through a county wide half percent sales tax increase.  The state, under the plan, would contribute $300 million.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House author of the stadium legislation, set a high bar Friday for a stadium proposal to pass the Legislature in the 10 days before it adjourns on May 23.
"In order for us to move a bill forward, we have to be assured that our limit of $300 million [in state contributions] is kept, that the details are workable [and] acceptable to us," said Lanning, "and that the governor supports whatever road we're on.
"Unless all those things happen, this bill will not move forward -- and it hasn't happened yet," he said.
Dayton again said that he wanted a “people’s stadium”, and that he and the Senate and House authors of proposed stadium legislation met Friday and were in agreement on capping the state’s contribution at $300 million.
“That’s absolutely the limit,” the governor said. Dayton has said that any state roadwork near Arden Hills would have to be deducted from the $300 million, and state transportation officials said that road improvements necessary for the stadium would be roughly $175 million.
Vikings officials have disputed the figure and Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president for stadium development and public affairs, said Thursday the figure “doesn’t pass the smell test.”
With 10 days left before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn, Dayton also said that passing legislation so that work could be started on a new Vikings stadium was "far less preferable [but] it might be more preferable than no bill."  He said however that passing stadium legislation without the details being resolved -- such as the road improvements -- might be giving the project a "blank check."
"I don't think they should be asked to" do that, Dayton said of the Legislature.

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