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Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett spoke at the State Capitol in mid-January about the county's efforts to help build a new Vikings stadium.

David Denney, Star Tribune

Revised Ramsey County financing plan isn't ready yet

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON
  • Star Tribune
  • January 31, 2012 - 6:10 AM

Ramsey County's third effort at a viable financing plan for a new $1.1 billion Vikings stadium won't be ready for a few days, Commissioner Tony Bennett said Monday.

"We're working on it. It won't be early in the week," he said, adding that the plan might not be ready until next week.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, gave the county a deadline of last Friday to present a new plan. County officials couldn't work that fast and plan architect, Finance Director Lee Mehrkens, was off late in the week.

The county last summer put forward its first plan: a proposal to raise the county sales tax by half a percentage point to support issuance of $350 million in bonds. St. Paul City Hall didn't like the plan nor did legislators who wanted a referendum, which is likely to tank.

In December, Ramsey County floated the idea of a 3 percent food and beverage tax, but tax-increase-averse legislators didn't like that, either.

Bennett and fellow stadium sponsor Rafael Ortega repeatedly have said they are waiting to see a detailed plan from Minneapolis. They note the county submitted a 148-page proposal on Jan. 12 when Minneapolis provided one that was substantially less detailed.

Bennett also has questioned why Minneapolis would be allowed to extend the current convention center taxes when Ramsey County can't use food and beverage. Either way, he said, the taxes wouldn't be there but for the stadium.

Stadium supporters repeatedly have said they want to get something done sooner rather than later in the session and a working group is to meet again this week. If the Ramsey County proposal gets pushed to next week, that could further bog down developments.

Another point of potential controversy when it comes to getting votes from the two Twin Cities delegations: Target Center vs. Xcel Energy Center. In a newsletter, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce accused Minneapolis of trying to "extort" $150 million for Target Center renovations as part of a stadium deal.

"It does not make sense to have two publicly owned facilities competing just 10 miles apart. We will not support, and will fight vigorously against" money for the Target Center causing "a diminished Saint Paul. It isn't fair," the newsletter said.

Since Xcel opened in 2000, the two facilities have had an internecine competition for events.

Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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