Minneapolis, the state and the Minnesota Vikings have reached a tentative agreement on a new, $975 million stadium on a site at or near the Metrodome and on how to divide the costs, multiple sources said Friday.
Under the preliminary deal, the city would contribute $150 million in construction costs to the downtown Minneapolis project. The state would add $398 million, while the Vikings would pay $427 million. The city also would pay approximately $180 million in operating costs over the next 30 years, multiple sources close to the negotiations said.
Senate Majority Leader David Senjem said Friday that if there is an agreement, enough time remains to vote on a stadium funding package before the Legislature adjourns in late April. "I think that we could certainly arrive at a decision on the bill -- up or down -- within the two-month framework," he said.
The sources who described the tentative agreement -- key players in the negotiations -- spoke on the condition that they not be identified. They added that some details remain, such as who is responsible for cost overruns, but said a formal announcement is anticipated next week.
The preliminary agreement would commit the state to nearly $60 million more than previous estimates for a new stadium at the Metrodome, and would have the Vikings pledge roughly the same amount the team had agreed to pay as part of a former stadium plan in Ramsey County's Arden Hills.
Any agreement would be just the first step in the stadium process: The package would need to pass the Legislature and likely the Minneapolis City Council -- neither of which is assured. The National Football League also would have to approve any stadium deal.
Stadium supporters have been worried that with pervasive talk of an early adjournment, they were running out of time in this legislative session. In a Friday morning briefing, Senjem said a special session might be needed.
Later in the day, Senjem disputed remarks by Gov. Mark Dayton that some legislators who face elections in November want to avoid a stadium vote this spring at the State Capitol. "If he's heard that, why, he's in better touch with my members than I am -- and I don't believe that to be true," Senjem said.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley declined to comment Friday on the numbers, but said "there is no agreement. Everything is subject to negotiations. We're working hard on an agreement, but we're not there yet."
Surveys of the 13-member Minneapolis City Council have indicated that a majority, including member Gary Schiff, a vocal opponent, is currently unwilling to support a stadium subsidy without a citywide referendum.
Would a vote be required?
Schiff said he has not been briefed on the deal, but said he is concerned about increasing city costs. He also questioned why the City Council even needed to vote at all, since the state would issue the bonds. "It's not clear what the city is being asked to vote on," Schiff said Friday.
Supporters have not yet laid out what that vote would be, or whether the Legislature would try to circumvent the City Council.
Renovations and refinancing for the city-owned Target Center are not part of the deal, according to the sources, but the city would be allowed to use hospitality taxes for that project. Mayor R.T. Rybak initially proposed including Target Center upgrades in the deal, but that has not been well received by legislators.
On Thursday, a House panel had discussed eliminating a series of city hospitality taxes -- a move that was seen in some circles as a way to pressure the City Council to support a stadium agreement.
City Council President Barbara Johnson, along with a spokesman for Rybak, said Friday that they would not comment on the agreement until details are made public.
Ted Mondale, the governor's chief stadium negotiator, did not respond to requests for comment.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House author of stadium legislation, said he had not yet seen the dollar amounts -- and described himself as "perturbed" that they were being revealed before key legislators were briefed. "I can't confirm or comment," he said.
But Lanning said that removing Target Center directly from a Vikings agreement would likely help sway votes toward the stadium project. "Target Center being included in this complicates the whole deal," he said. "If, in fact, [it's] not, then that would avoid some complication."
Cory Merrifield, who started SavetheVikes.org to build support for a stadium, has been trying to muster seven City Council votes.
"I have a feeling once we get this thing on paper and get it in front of them, [Rybak and Johnson] will have a much better chance of getting the seventh vote," Merrifield said Friday.
The preliminary agreement would increase the stadium's overall cost at the Metrodome -- as well as the state's contribution -- from just a month ago.
In mid-January, Dayton and Mondale had distributed a spreadsheet showing that a new Vikings stadium directly on the Metrodome site would cost $918 million.
Of that amount, Mondale said at the time, $428 million would come from the Vikings, $150 million would come from Minneapolis and $340 million would come from the state.