City of Minneapolis floats Vikings stadium proposal

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and other officials presented a stadium proposal today (Monday, May 9) designed to build a $895 million multi-purpose stadium on the site of Metrodome.

“We believe this is a People’s Solution to a People’s Stadium,” said Rybak, speaking at an afternoon press conference.

The Minneapolis plan  — which envisions using about a third of the existing Metrodome structure — calls for the Minnesota Vikings to kick in $400 million  toward construction, the state some $300 million, while the city would finance the remaining $195 million.

The city proposes a variety of revenue sources to raise its funding portion, including an admission tax on stadium events, extension of downtown hotel and liquor taxes, plus a citywide sales tax — about !5 cents on a $100.

City officials envision the state using a sport memorabilia sales tax, other sale taxes and a dedicated sports-themed lottery game to pay its portion.

Beyond constructing a new stadium, the city’s proposal includes a $100 million facelift for the Target Center.

Taylor indicated the Timberwolves would be willing to chip in some money toward the proposed upgrade, but gave no dollar amounts. “We haven’t negotiated that yet,” he said.

The city’s proposal comes just short days after Hennepin County apparently pulled out of one proposal that might have sited the new stadium near the Target Center.

Media reports suggest the Vikings and the county are coming closer to a deal to place a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills on the edge of the old ammunition plant.

“We either play defense or offense. We chose to play offense,” said Rybak of keeping the team in the Minneapolis. No Vikings officials appeared at the press conference with Minneapolis city officials. Rybak indicated the Vikings have not signed onto the city’s proposal. “We do not have their commitment,” he said.

They don’t.

Vikings officials while expressing thanks for the city’s proposal, were otherwise tepid in response.

“The Vikings were not involved in developing the specifics of this proposal and have not agreed to any of the financing elements,” said Jeff Anderson, Assistant Director of Public Affairs, in a statement. “While we have concerns about provisions within the City’s proposal, the team will examine it in further detail and respond accordingly,” he said.

Rybak insisted the city’s proposal was not last minute, but rather one slowly assembled over time.

It’s superior to the Adren Hills proposal, he argued, as the city already has existing infrastructure and indeed, was is proposing to fix two stadiums in one proposal.

Minneapolis’ proposal would not increase city property taxes, but, by upgrading the Target Center, actually lower property taxed by about $50 million over ten years, said Rybak.

Extending existing taxes on liquor and hotel rooms — a city wide sales tax — are difficult issues, he explained.

But Rybak argued lowering property taxes constituted a “trade off.”

The timeline on stadium construction could be two to three years — it’s hoped it can be built in two, said Rybak.

Construction would mean thousands of jobs in the state’s suffering construction industry, he said.

One obstruction to Minneapolis’ proposal is language in the city charter, approved by city voters, that limits the city’s involvement in sports stadiums to $10 million.

Rybak and city officials look to the Legislature to lift that voter-approved provision. Legally, he believes it can be done, Rybak said. Rybak portrayed the proposed stadium as bringing to pro football the appealing public space that Camden Yards in downtown Baltimore has brought to Major League Baseball.

Rybak said he did not know whether lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton could pass a stadium legislation with only about two weeks left of the regular legislative session.

Dayton is willing to sign a stadium bill, the governor recently said, even if a final budget agreement hasn’t been reached with the Republican-controlled Legislature. Dayton has also indicated he didn’t care where “The People’s Stadium,” as he has dubbed it, was sited.

Just along as its located in Minnesota, he said.

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