By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
Minneapolis leaders have watched the Vikings stadium game from the sidelines for months now, but Monday they said they’re ready to take the playing field.
Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson told Gov. Mark Dayton in a Monday meeting at the Capitol that they have financial plans for three downtown sites and that they are, in Johnson’s words, “ready to do this.”
They would use a city sales tax to help build a stadium, renovate city-owned Target Center and take that facility off the tax rolls to deliver property tax relief to city residents. Any of the city’s projects would cost less than the $1.1 billion plan to build a stadium in Arden Hills, the site preferred by the Vikings and Ramsey County.
Since Arden Hills is the team’s choice, Rybak said, Minneapolis officials have stayed out of the way. But he said it’s clear that the Arden Hills site will be difficult to build on and it’s time for the city to bring forward its own ideas.
The three sites they backed were at the Metrodome, the Farmers Market and what they called the Xcel Energy site near the Basilica of St. Mary. They would support any one of the three, but continue to say that the Dome site would be the cheapest to redevelop. They presented a detailed $895 million plan to do that last May, just before the Vikings decided to back Arden Hills.
One of the issues with the Arden Hills site is the potential for a referendum on proposed Ramsey County sales tax, which most stadium backers believe would defeat the tax. Rybak said he would not support a similar referendum in Minneapolis.
Johnson said she believed there were enough votes on the City Council to approve a Block E casino in downtown Minneapolis that could factor in the stadium’s financing. Rybak said he doesn’t prefer a casino but could support it if some proceeds were used elsewhere in the city.
Dayton told reporters that he’s anxious to hear about any realistic stadium proposals that people might bring forward before he releases his own plan in early November. He said that the Arden Hills’ plan continues to be hampered by factors such as the referendum question, but he emphasized that he hasn’t come to any conclusions. The Arden Hills plan and the Minneapolis sites all have upsides, he said.
“I think we have an opportunity now to make this happen,” the governor said.
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