One day after Minneapolis seemed to gain some momentum as a site for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, the lead House author for stadium legislation said that the city’s stadium plan is “quite inadequate.”
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, also said Wednesday that Minneapolis’ claim that it could contribute $300 million toward a new Vikings stadium without raising taxes was “very misleading” because much of the money would not be immediately available. “They’re not proposing to write a check for $300 million,” he said.
“There’s sort of this rush that all of a sudden Minneapolis is the answer – [but that] site has not been vetted,” he added.
Lanning’s comments came after Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the lead Senate stadium legislation author, said the Minneapolis plan seemed to be gaining strength – an indication that the two lead legislators on a Vikings stadium may be at odds on a fundamental issue.
On Tuesday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told a Senate panel that the city preferred building a new Vikings stadium at the site of the Metrodome, the Vikings home for the past 29 years. The mayor said the city would divert a series of local option taxes now being used to help pay for Minneapolis’ convention center to a new stadium. Afterward, Rybak acknowledged that the funds “to a certain degree” would not be fully available until 2020.
Rybak’s testimony sparked headlines Tuesday, and led Rosen to tell reporters that the Minneapolis plan was “getting to be a very viable option.”
Rosen also added that Ramsey County, which is partnering with the Vikings to build a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills, had fallen short at Tuesday’s hearing in offering a way to help pay for the project. She said the county’s proposal to be granted authority to levy a series of yet-to-be-name local option taxes was “not acceptable.”
In an interview Wednesday, Lanning said that the Arden Hills proposal had received much greater scrutiny than any Minneapolis stadium plan.
While he conceded that Ramsey County officials had to find local funding for the project Lanning did not – like Rosen – reject having the county use local option taxes. “I would not be dismissive of other local option taxes” as a solution, said Lanning.
But Lanning said he was disappointed that Ramsey County did not have a more specific plan. “I had expected more from them [Tuesday} than we got,” he said.
Lanning said that Minneapolis, Ramsey County and the Vikings needed to have more detailed funding plans in place by the end of December for a legislative proposal to be ready in January. The Legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 24.
“I’m not going to be a party to bringing forward a half-baked solution,” he said.
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