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Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett and Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley, earlier this year.

Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Vikings fire off letter criticizing referendum

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
  • Star Tribune
  • October 11, 2011 - 7:23 PM

The Minnesota Vikings said Tuesday that a countywide referendum on a proposed half-cent sales tax hike to help build a new football stadium would delay the project by two years and add at least $110 million to the proposal.

The letter was released before Tuesday night's Ramsey County Charter Commission hearing on whether voters should decide whether the county can impose the sales tax to fund its $350 million share of a new $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills.

Team vice president Lester Bagley wrote Charter Commission Chairman Richard Sonterre that a referendum in 2012 also would postpone thousands of jobs for construction workers and others.

"Neither the taxpayers nor the team can afford such a major delay caused by adding this referendum provision," he said.

After the hearing, the commission is expected to vote on whether the proposed sales tax should be put to the voters in the 2012 election.

Most stadium advocates believe voters would turn down such a tax increase and damage Ramsey County's chances to be the crucial local government partner needed to help pay for the stadium. If the matter is left to the Ramsey County Board, a majority of commissioners probably would approve a stadium tax.

The Vikings oppose the referendum, pointing out that one wasn't held when Hennepin County commissioners approved a sales tax increase to build Target Field for the Twins.

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission are expected to release a much-anticipated report about the viability of the Arden Hills site, a former munitions plant that needs extensive clean-up and road upgrades.

The report is expected to be released at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455

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