Vikings, Ramsey Co. strike deal

Billion-dollar plan faces obstacles at the Legislature. Money needed for major road improvements could be a problem.

The Minnesota Vikings and Ramsey County announced an agreement on Tuesday to build a $1 billion football stadium with a retractable roof in Arden Hills, capping a furious day of last-minute negotiations and brushing aside concerns from Gov. Mark Dayton and others that the project may be seriously flawed.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, flanked by the team's iconic former coach, Bud Grant, described the deal as purple-clad fans broke into cheers and applause at a county public works facility. The team, trying to build momentum for a plan that already faces heavy skepticism at the State Capitol, showed a film that attempted to link the new stadium to the team's glory days, when it played in the cold at Met Stadium in Bloomington during the 1960s and '70s.

"We believe we have selected the ideal site here in Arden Hills,'' Wilf said. "This establishes a venue for the next generation that our kids and ourselves can be very proud of."

"I'm very happy today. I look to see the future of the Minnesota Vikings in Arden Hills,'' said Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who along with fellow Commissioner Rafael Ortega spearheaded the county's efforts to attract the Vikings.

The plan came a day after Minneapolis, seeking to keep the Vikings at the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis, announced its own complex plan to use a series of tax increases to build an $895 million stadium and renovate the aging Target Center. But the Vikings reacted tepidly to that proposal.

The Ramsey County site, a former 260-acre munitions plant about 10 miles from downtown St. Paul, is one of the largest swaths of undeveloped land left in the Twin Cities. Wilf plans to build a 1.6 million-square-foot stadium with 21,000 parking spaces and other developments, including a Vikings Hall of Fame. The team would contribute $407 million, or 44 percent. The county, which began its improbable quest for a stadium last summer, would finance $350 million with a half-cent sales tax increase, leaving the state to contribute $300 million.

Major hurdles

Even before the deal was made public, signs erupted that the Ramsey County plan faces high hurdles at the Legislature.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said the money needed for road improvements in Arden Hills poses a problem. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the stadium plan's chief House author, said he would not move a stadium bill until road issues were resolved. To do otherwise, he said, was "asking for trouble."

Legislators have only 12 days left before they must adjourn the session, and many were voicing concerns on Tuesday that stadium negotiations have become so complex they might miss the deadline.

As reports swirled through the State Capitol early Tuesday that the Vikings and Ramsey County had reached an agreement, Dayton launched what would be a whirlwind day of stadium politics by splashing the Arden Hills project with his own dose of reality.

In a surprise morning news conference, he said the state's share was fixed at $300 million, whatever the cost of the new roads needed. State transportation officials estimated that a stadium without surrounding development would require $175 million in roadwork, while a fully developed site would need up to $240 million.

"I'll support either project up to $300 million," Dayton said of the competing Arden Hills and Minneapolis plans.

Hours before the Arden Hills deal was announced, Ted Mondale, the governor's chief stadium negotiator, issued a long-awaited cost comparison of the two sites that showed the Arden Hills stadium would cost up to $1.28 billion, compared to $895 million at the Metrodome. According to the analysis, the Arden Hills site would require $275 million to $340 million in highway, parking and other improvements. The Metrodome site would need $30 million for new parking spaces and skyway connections.

That quickly brought charges that there was back-room maneuvering taking place to try to steer the project back to Minneapolis. Rep. Michael Beard, the Republican chair of the House transportation panel, said he was concerned about growing "bias" in favor of Minneapolis.

"It sounds like the Vikings have already picked their prom date," he said, referring to Arden Hills. "If that's the case, then, I guess we've got to figure out how to get them to the prom."

Business weighs in

Charlie Weaver, the executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership who has played a major behind-the-scenes role with the project, said that influential Twin Cities business leaders -- including U.S. Bancorp chief executive Richard Davis, Ecolab chief executive Doug Baker and Ken Powell, the chief executive of General Mills -- have been cautioning the Vikings about the additional costs in building in Arden Hills.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the stadium plan's chief Senate author, said the Vikings asked whether the state could contribute $300 million plus road improvements. Rosen's one-word answer: "No."

Bennett said that he believed the road work could be spread out over a number of years. Wilf said he asked Dayton on Tuesday "to give us the opportunity to make our case" with the Legislature. He added that the stadium might open before the roads were upgraded.

The deal proposes that Ramsey County use its bonding authority for the initial $100 million in road upgrades. Ortega said that is the amount needed to cover the "first phase" of improvements needed in the next decade. He said the county would expect the state to pick up the cost of the $7 million annual debt service over 20 years. That would be on top of the $300 million the state said is its upper limit.

Ramsey County legislators had harsh words for the proposal, with Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, saying that county officials were in an "ivory tower" and out of touch with county taxpayers if they expected them to foot so much of the bill. Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton, whose district includes the Arden Hills property, sent Wilf a letter saying the Vikings should pay at least half the costs.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, whose support would be critical to the project, said he has not seen the proposal.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson said they won't give up. "The Metrodome is the most reasonably priced site," Johnson said.

Wilf, a New Jersey real estate developer, said he would consider "ancillary developments" on the expansive site sometime in the future.

Staff writers Kevin Duchschere, Steve Brandt and Neal St. Anthony contributed to this report. Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 7 Bottom 8th Inning
Kansas City 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 83 4th Qtr 5:11
Denver 68
Phoenix 50 3rd Qtr
LA Lakers 47
LA Clippers 25 1st Qtr 2:18
Golden State 21
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 3 3rd Prd 13:05
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 0 3rd Prd 7:50
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 23 4th Qtr 13:18
Louisiana 41
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close