The Ramsey County Board agreed Tuesday to solicit preliminary approvals for architects for a $1.1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium at a former munitions site in Arden Hills.
The board voted 4-3 to go ahead and find out which architects are interested in building a new stadium. They approved what is called a "request for qualifications," which precedes a "request for bids." The request for qualifications seeks to approve architects and make the bidding process easier -- if it comes to that.
Supporters said the vote sends a message that Ramsey County is an eager partner with the Vikings. Detractors said the Vikings should seek architects on their own.
Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of stadium development, hailed the action Tuesday before a group of Twin Cities business leaders and reiterated the team's view that the Arden Hills site is "ideal."
"Our fans like this site. They want this site," he told members of the Association for Corporate Growth at a luncheon in downtown Minneapolis.
The board's action was the third time commissioners have voted to move ahead with a stadium proposal. The vote came as the result of a request from team owner Zygi Wilf to approve the request for proposals.
Wilf met Monday night with Gov. Mark Dayton and a couple of legislators at the governor's residence. Dayton reportedly expressed interest in developing a schedule to move the project forward as quickly as possible.
Commissioner Jan Parker said the Ramsey board's action "sends a message to the Legislature, to the competitors that Ramsey County is supportive of this process going forward, that we are a willing partner, we want to be involved in the process. Even though it's only $100, it does send the message Ramsey County wants to be involved."
Commissioner Toni Carter voted against the proposal, saying the move is premature. "This board has not acted in any way publicly to support a stadium," she said.
Commissioner Rafael Ortega said this is a "once-in-my-lifetime opportunity" to do something with this property. Tony Bennett and Jim McDonough also voted for the proposal. Chair Victoria Reinhardt and Janice Rettman also voted no.
The county will solicit requests for qualifications and will review submissions to determine who is qualified to submit bids for up to $40 million in architectural work.
The Vikings' lease in the Metrodome is up at the end of this year, and the team doesn't want to sign a new one without a plan for a new field. Team officials have dangled the prospect that other U.S. cities would welcome the franchise.
No one has approved a stadium financing plan.
Staff writer Kevin Duchschere contributed to this report. Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035 Twitter: @rochelleolson