By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
Gov. Mark Dayton and the legislative sponsors of the stadium bill told the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday that the state needs to be “full partners” in a new stadium’s construction, ownership and operations, signaling differences with the team over provisions of the Ramsey County deal reached last week.
The letter, signed by Dayton, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, also said that they remain “neutral about where the Minnesota Vikings make their new home, so long as it is Minnesota.”
The Vikings and Ramsey County are pushing a deal to build a $1 billion stadium at an abandoned munitions plant in Arden Hills. State officials have said that plan would require at least $175 million in additional roadwork near the site to make it work. The Vikings and county officials say needed road improvements would cost much less, perhaps as low as $80 million.
The governor and legislators told team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf in their letter that they will rely on estimates from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to determine how much it would cost to improve the highways near the Arden Hills site, on which the team and Ramsey County struck an agreement last week.
MnDOT officials were expected to release revised figures Wednesday afternoon.
The Ramsey County stadium deal says that while the stadium would be publicly owned and governed by a publicly appointed stadium authority, the Vikings would operate and manage the facility.
But in the letter, the three state leaders wrote: “The stadium needs to be an asset and resource for all the people of Minnesota. Just as the Minnesota Vikings require a return on your investment, the people of Minnesota do also.”
The three also reiterated that the state won’t contribute more than $300 million for the project and that it was “unfair to burden the stadium project” with the cost of road improvements related to future development of the Arden Hills site.