By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
After days of intense, closed-door meetings, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday morning announced an agreement for what the governor called, "a new people's stadium" in downtown Minneapolis.
The new $975 million stadium would be open by 2016, under the plan. The deal remains contingent upon legislative and Minneapolis City Council approval.
"Now the real work begins," Dayton said. He was accompanied by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Vikings owners and others who have been wrangling a deal for months.
Dayton asked the Legislature to act quickly and the Minneapolis City Council to "consider carefully what is at stake."
Dayton said the arrangement was "the best deal we could negotiate" but, as with most deals, made no one completely pleased. But he said, it was a deal that could work.
There are serious doubts about any Vikings stadium deal from both governing bodies. Backers said they would immediately start wooing lawmakers, who have said they cannot give any idea a specific vote until they got the plan.
According to the agreement, the Vikings would pay more than 50 percent of the construction and operating expenses. The state would contribute $398 million from charitable electronic pulltabs. The city of Minneapolis would contribute $150 million in up-front costs and then $188.7 million operating and capital expenses, for a total of $338.7 million. That would come from existing Convention Center sales and hospitality taxes. The Vikings would contribute $427 million in up-front costs and $327.1 million operating and capital expenses, for a total of $754.1 million. The new stadium would be owned by a new stadium authority, which would have gubernatorial and city of Minneapolis appointees.
Rybak pitched the deal as a jobs bill that would put people to work and leading the city and state to greatness.
"We believe we have a compelling case to make," Rybak said. He said that the stadium deal could still allow city to spend some of its sales tax dollars on the Target Center, rather than having the tax end completely. The deal would redirect a portion of those tax dollars toward the stadium project and allow the city to control the rest.
Zygi Wilf, Vikings owner, said the deal is something he has been waiting for the entire seven years he has owned the team.
"This is an exciting day," Wilf said. He said the "dream of keeping the Vikings here" is closer to reality. "Here we are at the cusp of getting this done."
The actual stadium bill for the Legislature to consider is expected to be introduced on Monday, liklely setting in motion a series of dramatic hearings and legislative arm-twisting.
The new stadium would include the current footprint of the Metrodome but add in plaza and tailgate space. The new stadium proposal appears to include property owned by the Star Tribune company.
Ted Mondale, the chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission, said the construction plans would allow the team to continue playing at the Metrodome for all but one year of construction.
Under the arrangement, the public stadium authority would operate the stadium, the Vikings would keep the revenue related to football games and the non-football related income would go to the authority, Mondale said.
The state would raise its contribution through an expansion of charitable gambling. Under the plan, the state would authorize electronic pull-tabs, which would allow bars and restaurants to operate hand-held gambling devices. State officials are banking that the iPod-like devices would be more appealing to consumers, causing the state to get a higher take from gambling proceeds. The state would sell bonds to pay for its share of the stadium and then use increased gambling profits to pay them off.
The detailed finance plans: 20120301080611067