By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
Only a day before Gov. Mark Dayton’s deadline for Vikings stadium proposals, a dark horse named Shakopee came up fast from the outside track and beat expected competitors Arden Hills and Minneapolis to the governor’s “in” basket.
Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke, in office just a couple weeks, headlined a presentation Wednesday at the State Capitol for a plan to build a $920 million stadium on a 130-acre site in an industrial area near Hwys. 101 and 169 east of downtown Shakopee.
“We believe that we have the best site, that will be the easiest to develop ... the cheapest in cost and the second largest in land acreage,” said Tabke, 32, a property services executive with an Eagan company.
The site has two owners, both of whom are interested in selling, Tabke said; much of it used to be a dot-com firm that went bust some time ago. It’s close to major highways, can accommodate tailgaters with up to 22,000 parking spaces, and is close to the metro area’s Vikings fan base and the team’s headquarters in Eden Prairie.
Shakopee leaders and supportive legislators said the city handles 6 million visitors a year to Valley Fair, Canterbury Downs and other local attractions. Infrastructure costs would be minimal compared to the other sites, they said.
Their cost breakdown? The Vikings would pay $400 million, and the balance would come from a Racino at Canterbury Downs and user fees for lottery scratch-offs, ticket surcharges, naming rights and Vikings license plates. No income or sales taxes would be used.
“If you use the stadium, you pay for it. If you don’t, you won’t,” said Cory Merrifield, founder of stadium advocate group Save the Vikes.
“I have never had a preferred site, but now I do,” said state Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, one of the Senate’s new assistant majority leaders.
Asked if a new stadium proposal was realistic at so late a date, Tabke said that they had met the deadline that Dayton had imposed. He said that new problems seemed to pop up every day with the sites under consideration for months.
Vikings officials said they’re grateful for the efforts but are sticking with Arden Hills as their preferred site, Merrifield said.
Tabke was asked at the news conference what he was going to do in his third week in office.
“I’m going to take a nap,” he said.