By ROCHELLE OLSON
The Minnesota Vikings have objected that it was misleading to say the team’s plan for a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills included a convention center and hotel.
The episode erupted after Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, the county’s main stadium proponent, distributed a map at a luncheon showing a possible convention center/hotel near the stadium.
Said Bagley: “[The] Vikings do not have -- nor has the team ever had -- any plans to develop a convention center as part of the Arden Hills development proposal.”
But for at least two months before the luncheon, four separate websites connected to north-suburban cities mentioned the value of a convention center near the Arden Hills stadium.
In an opinion piece under Bennett’s byline that ran Aug. 10 in the Shoreview Press, the Ramsey County commissioner wrote: “One of the advantages to the Arden Hills site is available space and opportunity for related development. The vision for the area includes a convention center/hotel complex and a corporate campus, in addition to the stadium. This additional development will provide construction jobs for many years.”
He added: “The Vikings stadium development envisions a stadium, convention center/hotel complex, and corporate campus, and does not include residential property.”
Similar comments can be found on the North Oaks Homeowners’ Association website, the Arden Hills city website and as part of the Roseville City Council agenda for July 18. Roseville declined to take a stand on the stadium proposal.
The convention center prospect is highly problematic for leaders in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Each city already has a convention facility trying to survive in a single market. No other metropolitan area has two convention centers so close to each other. Officials say a third would draw business away from, and potentially kill, a facility in Minneapolis or St. Paul.
In an article Sept. 4, the Star Tribune reported that Bagley and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf attended a St. Paul Rotary luncheon where maps featuring a convention center/hotel were handed out. Neither mentioned or refuted the map. Bennett later said Ramsey County created the map, but that it was an old map that was not part of current plans.
The Vikings declined to comment.