Vikings’ plan for new stadium hitting snags Vikings’ plan for new stadium hitting snags
The Minnesota Vikings continue their search for a new stadium, while a deal with the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis remains... Vikings’ plan for new stadium hitting snags

The Minnesota Vikings continue their search for a new stadium, while a deal with the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis remains elusive. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s plan calls for the construction of a new $1 billion stadium next to the aging Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. Having a building adjacent to the current facility would allow the Vikings to host games during construction, missing only a handful of games in 2016.

Mayor Rybak’s plan funds the project through a combination of tax increases and extensions. Three percent liquor and restaurant taxes will be implemented downtown. According to TwinCities.com, 1,000 parking meters will see rates spike to $25 on game days and the city will impose a $30 mandatory fee on just under 2,000 parking spaces. These fees are expected to generate $31 million. Projections show new revenue streams netting $31 million. Hotel and sales taxes will cover the new stadium as well as the nearby convention center and the Target Center, home of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. Projections suggest that the ticket sales tax would increase revenue by $60 million over a 30-year period. Property taxes set to expire in 2020 and 2024 would be extended, collecting $55 million in revenue.

John Stiles, Mayor Rybak’s Communications Director, recently spoke with TicketNews. He noted that there is no final agreement about the deal’s cost or who would share the burden. He did estimate that the cost would be somewhere “in the $900 million range if we go with the proposal in Minneapolis.” One-third of the cost would fall onto the Vikings, one-third onto the state, and one-third onto a series of “local partners” within the city. This would place Minneapolis’s burden at approximately $300 million.

Political discord is threatening the deal, with the Republican-controlled legislature facing off against Rybak, a three-term Democrat and Vice President of the Democratic National Committee. As Stiles admits, “there’s a lot of politics in the state capitol [building] and lots of politics in Minneapolis.” Seven members of the 13-person city council oppose the plan, which requires a majority vote for approval. Council member Gary Schiff is critical of the proposed sales tax increase as well as of the ballooning funding gap. A financial consultant for the mayor’s office estimates that the $55 million gap would become $107 million over the next 30 years.

The Vikings initially supported a $1.1 billion plan to construct a new stadium in Arden Hills, a town northeast of Minneapolis in Ramsey County, on the site of a former ammunitions plant. Opposition to a 0.5 percent hike in the county’s sales tax forced Ramsey County to amend its proposal. Last week the Vikings rejected the new proposal, which would have instituted a three percent surcharge on original ticket prices, raising parking fees for non-football events, and selling to private companies the right to name designated parking areas. According to the new plan, the Vikings would pay $425 million for construction whereas state funds would amount to $350 million.

“Our view is the earlier proposals were more viable,” the Vikings’ vice president, Lester Bagley told the Minnesota Star Tribune.

State legislators and Governor Mark Dayton support a plan that requires legislative approval, such as the Metrodome plan, rather than the Arden Hills proposal that falls mainly under county jurisdiction. “I want the people of Minnesota to see the Legislature have a specific proposal that’s in the public interest, that builds a people’s stadium, owned and operated by the public in the public interest,” as reported on Minnesota Public Radio.

The latest push for a new stadium began when the Metrodome’s roof collapsed in Dec. 2010 after a powerful snowstorm. After the site’s first roof failure since 1983, Chairman Roy Terwiliger of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission raised concerns about the building’s age. Construction on the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome began in 1979 and it opened in 1982, making the Metrodome one of the oldest NFL sports stadiums. The Green Bay Packers‘ Lambeau Field is the oldest facility still in use. Opened in 1956, it was substantially renovated in 2003.

Until a deal is reached, the Vikings will stay in the current Metrodome though their current lease expired on February 1, 2012. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell denied rumors that the Vikings would move to Los Angeles if a favorable deal was not quickly reached.