Thursday is deadline day for where the Vikings will play

Minneapolis and Ramsey County hurriedly retooled competing plans Wednesday to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, although both appeared to have continuing flaws. Meanwhile a sudden, last-minute bid from Shakopee could complicate the race.

Racing to meet a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline set by Gov. Mark Dayton, city and county officials said they expected to work nearly up to the deadline. As many as five locations -- including three in Minneapolis -- are in play.

The Vikings, meanwhile, say they still prefer a $1.1 billion stadium in Ramsey County's Arden Hills, and brushed aside Wednesday's proposal by Shakopee officials to build a $920 million stadium in Scott County backed by racino money.

Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, said Wednesday that after years of debate over how -- and whether -- to build a new stadium, little seemed to have been decided.

"Here we are five or 10 years later and we still don't have a host community, we still don't have a local funding source and, of course, because of that, we haven't really decided on a state funding source," Senjem said.

With the Legislature convening in 12 days, Senjem also revealed a possible new political strategy, saying that although legislators may "begin this discussion" now on a Vikings stadium plan, the project could get pushed to 2013.

Ted Mondale, the governor's chief stadium negotiator, said he had not been involved in the Shakopee proposal. Neither was Canterbury Park, the nearby horse racing track that has been pushing for slot machines that would allow it to have a racino.

"We believe that we have the best site, that will be the easiest to develop," said Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke, who took office just last week. The stadium would be built in an industrial area near Hwys. 101 and 169 east of Shakopee.

Mondale said he would be glad to meet with Scott County officials on the Shakopee proposal, but said "it's hard to comment without knowing anything about it."

Jeff Anderson, a Vikings spokesman, said of the Shakopee proposal, "It's time to focus on one site instead of [bringing in] additional sites."

Ramsey County and Minneapolis officials revealed few details in advance of Thursday's deadline.

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, a major stadium proponent, said the county will stick with its plan to offer a local food-and-beverage tax they say would raise $350 million -- a plan dismissed a month ago by a key Senate stadium backer who said it could not win enough legislative votes.

"We can be in the ground, ready to go, faster than anybody. We're shovel-ready," Bennett said.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said city officials are still working to "keep making [the city's plan] better."

Jeremy Hanson Willis, the mayor's chief of staff, said the city's proposal would be a "snapshot" of a still-evolving proposal that would show "here's where the conversation is today."

City officials said they will back the Metrodome, the Vikings home in downtown Minneapolis for 30 years, but said their funding proposal could be used for either the Farmers Market site near Target Field or the Linden Avenue site, near the Basilica of St. Mary.

Chuck Lutz, the city's development director, said studies have shown that 40 percent of the Metrodome's footings and foundation could be used for a new stadium.

While Minneapolis can boast that its plan does not raise new taxes, it does rely on a complicated set of projections. Rybak wants to redirect unpredictable downtown sales taxes that currently fund the city's convention center to help pay for stadium costs, and, at the same time, use some of the money to pay off debt at the city-owned Target Center.

In December, the city said its $300 million for a stadium would pay for operating costs over time, rather than paying for the stadium's construction. But city finance officials said this week that the $300 million figure may change, and they now are considering adding money for construction.

The Vikings have said the Metrodome may be "workable," but now say that the site carries $67 million in additional costs that include, in their estimation, a need for $19 million to enhance parking at the Metrodome. Rybak initially said the Metrodome site, at $895 million, was the cheapest plan.

The Vikings said Tuesday they consider the actual cost to be $962 million, closer to the cost of the other sites.

Added complications

There are also other complications. Mark Rotenberg, the University of Minnesota's general counsel, said Wednesday that there is "no specific agreement" with the Vikings to use the school's TCF Bank Stadium while the Metrodome is under construction. University officials said they were surprised that the Vikings had released cost estimates for using TCF Bank Stadium without consulting the school.

One player who could help Minneapolis remains on the sidelines.

Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat, who was instrumental in attaining county funding for Target Field, said the state's most populous county would not financially assist Minneapolis and the Vikings. As he has in the past, Opat said Wednesday that he supports a stadium next to Target Field.

Grabbing the stage Wednesday, Shakopee city leaders and legislators highlighted the area's adjoining attractions -- Valleyfair amusement park and Canterbury Park racetrack -- and said the stadium's public subsidy would come from racino, user fees for lottery scratch-off games, ticket surcharges, stadium naming rights and Vikings-themed license plates.

"We're aware we're coming late to the game, but everything is in flux right now," Tabke said.

Staff writers Eric Roper, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Rochelle Olson contributed to this article. Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

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2014 preseason     
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