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Artist's rendering of interior of new Vikings stadium

, Associated Press

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Stadium numbers crunched at Mpls. city council hearing

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER
  • Star Tribune
  • May 22, 2012 - 7:10 AM

An opponent of the Vikings stadium bill on the Minneapolis City Council held a hearing on its financial details Monday, while acknowledging that final passage appears inevitable.

"We are going to disagree on Friday morning, but chances are good on Monday morning we're going to wake up and have to build a stadium in the city of Minneapolis," said Council Member Betsy Hodges. The council is expected to take a final vote on the stadium deal, which has already been signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton, this Friday.

Also Monday, Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal issued a formal written opinion backing earlier oral advice that the taxes used to fund the stadium will not trigger a citywide vote requirement in the city's charter. Segal asked a private attorney, Charles Nauen, to conduct an independent review of the opinion.

Documents distributed at Monday's hearing show the city's contribution to the stadium construction and operations will be $309 million, or $678 million when accounting for interest over the life of the deal.

That figure could rise if the relevant taxes -- a citywide sales tax, downtown restaurant and liquor taxes and a hotel tax -- grow faster than 2 percent a year. The city would then also be left with hundreds of millions extra in economic development funds, however.

Council Member Gary Schiff, an opponent of the plan, asked city staffers why there were no guarantees in the bill to ensure nearby development extends beyond "one bar in front of the Metrodome, as we have today."

"The development pressure downtown will all head east in years to come because it's the only way that downtown can grow," responded city development chief Chuck Lutz.

Council members also expressed concern that while the plan provides more than $400 million over time for convention center capital investments, it does not set aside money for the capital projects necessary to keep that facility "competitive."

In addition to the existing sales tax revenue, the city is expecting to garner more than $1.5 million a year from ticket taxes at the new stadium -- not currently levied at the Metrodome. There may also be additional revenue from parking and a potential hotel "user fee."

The legislation also gives Minneapolis the means to renovate the city-owned Target Center. Mayor R.T. Rybak said the city likely will put $60 million to $70 million into that project, which will be combined with a similar amount from private partners.

The stadium proposal will be voted on twice this week, in committee on Thursday and at a council meeting on Friday. In a test vote last month, seven of 13 council members supported the stadium deal.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

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