by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
City of Minneapolis officials joined the growing list of hopeful Vikings’ stadium deal makers making their pitch to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson emerged from the Governor’s Office on Monday, Oct. 24 detailing some of the basic parameters that could help keep a Vikings’ stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
Downtown Minneapolis, Rybak said, holds three possible stadium sites and the city has plans for helping to finance any one of the three.
Rybak, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, and others presented a stadium proposal last May that calls for the construction of a $895 million multi-purpose stadium on the site of Metrodome.
The plan — which envisions using about a third of the existing Metrodome structure — calls for the Vikings to kick in $400 million, the state $300 million, while the city would finance the remaining $195 million.
The city included a $100 million upgrade of the Target Center as part of the proposal. “We will not do any proposal that doesn’t also include redoing the Target Center,” Rybak said.
Although not the preferred option, Rybak said city officials are “comfortable” with a Minneapolis-only sales tax increase as a means of stadium financing.
The mayor indicated he does not believe a voter referendum should be required, because elections serve as referendums. Besides, a stadium deal could result in the Target Center being taken off city tax rolls, and result in lower property taxes, Rybak said.
Both Rybak and Johnson indicated that besides being receptive to a sales tax increase, some support exists on the Minneapolis City Council for approving a casino in proposed development of Block E.
Johnson styled a casino an “attractive option,” as state and federal government are cutting back support of cities and city officials must look locally for revenue sources.
“We know Minneapolis can handle this,” Rybak said of putting all the financial pieces together for a stadium deal.
Besides the Metrodome, other possible downtown stadium locations include the Farmers’ Market and near the Basilica of Saint Mary.
But Rybak views the Metrodome site as the best.
The Metrodome upgrade proposal would cost about $300 million less than the Vikings/Ramsey County Arden Hills’ stadium proposal, and even with a $100 million redo of the Target Center it would “conservatively” cost $200 million less, Rybak said.
Vikings’ team officials have repeatedly indicated the only real stadium proposal to them is the one for Arden Hills.
Dayton spoke to the press briefly after his meeting with Rybak and Johnson.
He again asserted his stadium site neutrality, saying the only location for sure where he didn’t want to see a new Vikings’ stadium was Los Angeles.
Dayton has not yet nailed down an exact date for the special session that he is proposing to call to address the Vikings’ stadium issue.
Indeed, Dayton said he would not call a special session at all, unless all four legislative leaders agreed to basic things like starting and end dates, and limiting the scope of the session to stadiums.
To that extent, legislative leaders hold “veto power” over a possible special session, Dayton said.
The governor has suggested Nov. 21 as a special session starting date.